Jean-Baptiste de Belloy
Although of an ancient family of military fame, young Belloy preferred an ecclesiastical career, made his classical and theological studies at Paris, where he was ordained a priest and received the degree of Doctor of Theology in 1737. In the ministry he shone more by his virtue than by his learning.
The Bishop of Bourges, Cardinal Léon Potier de Gesvres, appointed him Vicar General of the diocese and archdeacon of his cathedral. In 1751 he was appointed as the Bishop of Glandeves. At the famous Assembly of the French Clergy of 1755, he took sides with the moderate party and contributed to the restoration of tranquility in the Church of France. Dissensions occasioned by the papal bull Unigenitus had become so great in the Diocese of Marseilles that, upon the death of its bishop, Henri François Xavier de Belsunce de Castelmoron, there was imminent danger of schism. Belloy was transferred to that see; he gained the confidence of both parties and restored peace.
In July 1790, the National Assembly decreed the suppression of the Diocese of Marseilles. Belloy withdrew, but sent to the assembly a letter of protest against the suppression of one of the oldest episcopal sees of France. He retired to Chambly, a little town near his native place, where he remained during the most critical period of the Revolution. When Pope Pius VII decided that the French bishops should tender their resignation in order to facilitate the conclusion of the Concordat of 1801, he was the first to comply, setting the example which exercised great influence over the other bishops.
Napoleon, highly pleased with this act of devotion to Church and State, appointed the nonagenarian bishop to the See of Paris. Notwithstanding his extreme age he governed his new diocese with astonishing vigour and intelligence, reorganized the parishes, provided them with good pastors, and visited his flock in person. He restored the Crown of Thorns (10 August 1806) to its place of honour in the Sainte Chapelle. Napoleon was so well satisfied that he asked and readily obtained for him the cardinal's hat, which Pius VII placed on the prelate's head in a consistory held in Paris, 1 February 1805.
Belloy was buried in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, where the monument erected by Napoleon in his honour is one of the finest in the cathedral.
- Honoré Fisquet, La France pontificale (Paris), I, 542-556
- François-Xavier de Feller, Biographie Universelle, II, 199.
- "Jean-Baptiste de Belloy". Catholic Encyclopedia.
|Catholic Church titles|
Antoine-Éléonor-Léon Leclerc de Juigné
(Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gobel, Constitutional Archbishop, 1791-94)
|Archbishop of Paris
| Succeeded by|