Roman Catholic Diocese of Limoges
|Diocese of Limoges
Diocèse de Limoges
|Metropolitan||Archdiocese of Poitiers|
|Area||11,085 km2 (4,280 sq mi)|
|(as of 2004)
|Cathedral||Cathedral of St Stephen in Limoges|
|Patron saint||Saint Martial|
|Metropolitan Archbishop||Pascal Wintzer|
|Emeritus Bishops||Léon-Raymond Soulier Bishop Emeritus (1988-2000)|
|Website of the Diocese|
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Limoges is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church in France. The diocese comprises the départments of Haute-Vienne and Creuse. After the Concordat of 1801, the See of Limoges lost twenty-four parishes from the district of Nontron which were annexed to the Diocese of Périgueux, and forty-four from the district of Confolens, transferred to the Diocese of Angoulême; but until 1822 it included the entire ancient Diocese of Tulle, when the latter was reorganized.
Since 2002, the diocese has been suffragan to the Archdiocese of Poitiers, after transferral from the Archdiocese of Bourges. Currently the see is vacant after the promotion of bishop Christophe Dufour as the new coadjutor archbishop of Aix, in the Archdiocese of Aix.
Saint Gregory of Tours names St. Martial, who founded the Church of Limoges, as one of the seven bishops sent from Rome to Gaul in the middle of the 3rd century. An anonymous life of St. Martial (Vita primitiva), discovered and published by Abbé Arbellot, represents him as sent to Gaul by St. Peter. Controversy has arisen over the date of this biography. The discovery in the library at Karlsruhe of a manuscript copy written at Reichenau by Regimbertus, a monk who died in 846, places the original before that date. As it is in rhythmical prose, Mgr Bellet thinks it belongs to the 7th century while Charles De Smedt and Louis Duchesne maintain that the "Vita primitiva" is much later than Gregory of Tours. M. de Lasteyrie gives 800 as the date of its origin.
In addition to the manuscript already cited, the Abbey of St. Martial at the beginning of the 11th century possessed a circumstantial life of its patron saint, according to which, and to the cycle of later legends derived from it, St. Martial was one of the seventy-two disciples who witnessed the Passion and Ascension of Christ, was present on the first Pentecost and at the martyrdom of St. Stephen. followed St. Peter to Antioch and to Rome, and was sent to Gaul by the Prince of the Apostles, who assigned Austriclinium and Alpinian to accompany him. The three were welcomed at Tulle and turned away from Ahun. They set out towards Limoges, where St. Martial erected on the site of the present cathedral a shrine in honour of St. Stephen. A pagan priest, Aurelian, wished to throw St. Martial into prison, but was struck dead, then brought to life, baptized, ordained and later consecrated bishop by the saint. Aurelian is the patron of the guild of butchers in Limoges. Forty years after the Ascension, Christ appeared to Martial, and announced to him the approach of death. The churches of Limoges celebrate this event on 16 June. After labouring for twenty-eight years as a missionary in Gaul, the saint died at the age of fifty-nine, surrounded by his converts of Poitou, Berry, Auvergne and Aquitaine.
The writer of this "Life" pretends to be Aurelian, St. Martial's disciple and successor in the See of Limoges. Louis Duchesne thinks it not unlikely that the real authorship of this "apocryphal and lying" work should be attributed to the chronicler Adhémar de Chabannes, noted for his fabrications; but M. de Lasteyrie is of opinion that it was written about 955, before the birth of Adhémar. Be that as it may, this "Vita Aureliana" played an important part at the beginning of the 11th century, when the Abbot Hugh (1019–1025) brought before several councils the question of the Apostolic date of St. Martial's mission. Before the Carolingian period there is no trace of the story that St. Martial was sent to Gaul by St. Peter. It did not spread until the 11th century and was revived in the seventeenth by the Carmelite Bonaventure de Saint-Amable, in his voluminous "Histoire de St. Martial". Duchesne and M. de Lasteyrie assert that it cannot be maintained against the direct testimony of St. Gregory of Tours, who places the origin of the Church of Limoges about the year 250.
The most distinguished bishops of Limoges are: St. Ruricius (died 507), who built the monastery and church of St. Augustine at Limoges; St. Roricius II (d. about 553), who built the church of St-Pierre-du-Queyroix and the Basilica of St. Junianus at Limoges; St. Ferréol (d. 597), the friend of St. Yrieix; St. Lupus, or Saint Loup (613-629); St. Sacerdos (Saint Sardon), Abbot of Calabrum, afterwards bishop; St. Cessa (740-761), who led the people of Limoges against the Saracens under Charles Martel; Cardinal Jean du Bellay (1541–1545).
The ecelesiastics who served the crypt of St. Martial organized themselves into a monastery in 848, and built a church beside that of St.-Pierre-du-Sépulchre which overhung the crypt. This new church, which they called St-Sauveur, was demolished in 1021 and replaced in 1028 by a larger edifice in Auvergnat style. Urban II came in person to reconsecrate it in 1095. In the 13th century the chapel of St. Benedict arose beside the old church of St-Pierre-du-Sépulchre. It was also called the church of the Grand Confraternity of St. Martial. The different organizations which were grouped around it, anticipated and solved many important sociological questions.
In the Middle Ages, Limoges comprised two towns: one called the "City", the other the "Chateau" or "Castle". The government of the "Castle" belonged at first to the Abbots of St. Martial who claimed to have received it from king Louis the Pious. Later, the viscounts of Limoges claimed this authority, and constant friction existed until the beginning of the 13th century, when owing to the new communal activity, consuls were appointed, to whose authority the abbots were forced to submit in 1212. After two intervals during which the English kings imposed their rule, king Charles V of France in 1371 united the "Castle" with the royal demesne, and thus ended the political rule of the Abbey of St. Martial. Until the end of the old regime, however, the abbots of St. Martial exercised direct jurisdiction over the Combes quarter of the city.
In 1534, Abbot Matthieu Jouviond, finding that the monastic spirit had almost totally died out in the abbey, thought best to change it into a collegiate church, and in 1535 the king and the pope gave their consent. It was suppressed in 1791, and early in the 19th century even the buildings had disappeared. In the 13th century, the Abbey of St. Martial possessed the finest library (450 volumes) in France after that of Cluny Abbey (570 volumes). Some have been lost, but 200 of them were bought by Louis XV in 1730, and to-day are one of the most valuable collections in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris. Most manuscripts, ornamented with beautiful miniatures, were written in the abbey itself. M. Emile Molinier and M. Rupin admit a relation between these miniatures of St. Martial and the earliest Limoges enamels, but M. de Lasteyrie disputes this theory. The Franciscans settled at Limoges in 1223. According to the chronicle of Pierre Coral, rector of St. Martin of Limoges, St. Anthony of Padua established a convent there in 1226 and departed in the first months of 1227. On the night of Holy Thursday, it is said, he was preaching in the church of St. Pierre du Queyroix, when he stopped for a moment and remained silent. At the same instant he appeared in the choir of the Franciscan monastery and read a lesson. It was doubtlessly at Châteauneuf in the territory of Limoges that took place the celebrated apparition of the Infant Jesus to St. Anthony.
The diocese specially honours the following: St. Sylvanus (Silvain), a native of Ahun, martyr; St. Adorator disciple of St. Ambrose, suffered martyrdom at Lubersac; St. Victorianus, an Irish hermit; St. Vaast, a native of the diocese who became Bishop of Arras and baptized king Clovis (5th-6th century); St. Psalmodius, a native of Britain, died a hermit at Eymoutiers; St. Yrieix, d. in 591, chancellor to Theudebert II King of Austrasia and founder of the monastery of Attanum (the towns of Saint-Yrieix are named after him); St. Etienne de Muret (1046–1126), who together with Guillaume d'Uriel, Bishop of Limoges, founded the famous Benedictine abbey of Grandmont.
Mention must also be made of the following natives of Limoges: Bernard Guidonis (1261–1313), born at La Roche d'Abeille, Bishop of Lodève and a celebrated canonist; the Aubusson family, one of whom, Pierre d'Aubusson (1483–1503), was Grand Master of the Order of Jerusalem and one of the defenders of Rhodes against the Ottomans; Marc Antoine Muret, called the "Orator of the Popes" (1526–1596). Three popes came from the Diocese of Limoges: Pierre Roger, born at Maumont (today part of the commune of Rosiers-d'Égletons), elected pope in 1342 as Clement VI, died in 1352; Etienne Albert, or Étienne d'Albret, born at Monts, elevated to the papacy in 1352 as Innocent VI, died in 1362. Pierre Roger de Beaufort, nephew of Clement VI, also born at Maumont, reigned as Gregory XI from 1371 till 1378. Maurice Bourdin, Archbishop of Braga (Portugal), antipope for a brief space in 1118, under the name of Gregory VIII, also belonged to this diocese. St. Peter Damian came to Limoges in 1062 as papal legate, to compel the monks to accept the supremacy of the Order of Cluny.
Council of Limoges
The Council of Limoges, held in 1031, is noted not only for its decision with regard to St. Martial's mission, but because, at the instigation of Abbot Odolric, it proclaimed the "Truce of God" and threatened with general excommunication those feudal lords who would not swear to maintain it. It was at the priory of Bourganeuf in this diocese that Pierre d'Aubusson received the Ottoman prince Zizin, son of Sultan Mohammed II of Turkey, after he had been defeated in 1483 by his brother, Bajazet II.
Pilgrimages and Feasts
In 994, when the district was devastated by a plague (mal des ardents), the epidemic ceased immediately after a procession ordered by Bishop Hilduin on the Mont de la Joie, which overlooks the city. The Church of Limoges celebrates this event on 12 November.
The principal pilgrimages of the diocese are those of: Saint Valtéric (hermit) at Saint-Vaubry (6th century); Our Lady of Sauvagnac at Saint-Léger-la-Montagne (12th century); Notre-Dame-du-Pont, near St-Junien (14th century), twice visited by Louis XI; NotreDame-d'Arliguet, at Aixe-sur-Vienne (end of the 16th century); Notre-Dame-des-Places, at Crozant (since 1664).
Before the Associations Law of 1901, there were in the diocese of Limoges Jesuits, Franciscans, Marists, Oblates of Mary Immaculate and Sulpicians. The principal congregations of women which originated here are the Sisters of the Incarnation founded in 1639, contemplatives and teachers, who were restored in 1807 at Azerables, and have houses in Texas and Mexico. The Sisters of St. Alexis, nursing sisters, founded at Limoges in 1659. The Sisters of St. Joseph, founded at Dorat in February, 1841, by Elizabeth Dupleix, who had visited the prisons at Lyons with other pious women since 1805. The Congregation of Our Saviour and the Congregation of the Blessed Virgin, a nursing and teaching congregation founded at la Souterraine, in 1835, by Joséphine du Bourg.
The Sisters of the Good Shepherd (also called 'Marie Thérèse nuns'), nursing sisters and teachers, had their mother-house at Limoges.
As of 2004, the diocese has a population of 478,363 and 97 parishes; 126 priests, of whom 104 are diocesan priests and 22 are religious priests; and 214 nuns.
- Saint Martial, 3rd century
- Saint Aurelian, 3rd century
- Adelfius I.
- Dativus 4th century
- Adelfius II. 4th century
- Exuperius 4th century
- Astidius 4th century
- Peter du Palais 506
- Rorice I. 507
- Rorice II. 535-553
- Exochius 6th century
- Saint Ferreol 575-597
- Asclepius 613
- Saint Loup 614-631
- Simplicius 7th century
- Felix ca. 650
- Adelfius III.
- Rusticus 669
- Hergenobert 7th century
- Ermenon 8th century
- Salutaris 8th century
- Saint Sacerdos 720
- Ausuindus 8th century
- Saint Cessadre 732
- Rorice III. 8th century
- Ebulus I. 752-768
- Asclepius ca. 793
- Reginbert 817
- Odoacre 821-843
- Stodilus 850-861
- Aldo 866
- Geilo 869
- Anselm 869-896
- Turpin D’Aubusson 905-944
- Ebalus II. 958-963
- Hildegaire 977-990
- Alduin 990-1012
1000 to 1300
- Géraud I 1012-1020
- Jourdain de Laront 1029-1051
- Itier Chabot 1052-1073
- Guy de Laront 1076-1086
- Humbauld de Saint-Sèvère 1087-1095
- Guillaume D'Uriel 1098-1100
- Pierre Viroald 1100-1105
- Eustorge 1106-1137
- Gérald II du Cher 1142-1177
- Sébrand Chabot 1179-1198
- Jean de Veyrac 1198-1218
- Bernard de Savène 1219-1226
- Guy de Cluzel 1226-1235
- Guillaume du Puy 1235
- Durand ca. 1240-1245
- Aymeric de La Serre 1246-1272
- Gilbert de Malemort 1275-1294
- Raynaud de La Porte 1294-1316
1300 to 1500
- Gérard Roger 1317-1324
- Hélie de Talleyrand 1324-1328
- Blessed Roger le Fort 1328-1343
- Nicolas de Besse 1343-1369
- Guy de Comborn 1346-1347
- Jean de Cros 1348-1371
- Aymeric Chati de L’Age-au-Chapt 1372-1390
- Bernard de Bonneval 1391-1403
- Hugues de Magnac 1403-1412
- Ramnulfe de Peyrusse des Cars 1414-1426
- Hugues de Rouffignac 1426-1427
- Pierre de Montbrun 1427-1456
- Jean de Barthon I. 1457-1486
- Jean de Barthon II. 1486-1510
1500 to 1800
- René de Prie 1510-1517
- Philippe de Montmorency 1517-1519
- Charles de Villiers de L`Isle-Adam 1522-1530
- Antoine de Lascaris 1530-1532
- Jean de Langeac 1533-1541
- Jean du Bellay 1541-1544
- Antoine Senguin 1546-1550
- César des Bourguignons 1555-1558
- Sébastien de L'Aubespine 1558-1582
- Henri de La Marthonie 1587-1618
- Raymond de La Marthonie 1618-1627
- François de Lafayette 1628-1676
- Louis de Lascaris D'Urfé 1676-1695
- François de Carbonel de Canisy 1695-1706, † 1723
- Antoine de Charpin de Genetines † (13 Sep 1706 Appointed - 21 Jun 1739 Died)
- Jean-Gilles du Coëtlosquet (1739–1758)
- Louis-Charles du Plessis d'Argentré † (3 Sep 1758 Appointed - 28 Mar 1808 Died)
- Marie-Jean-Philippe Dubourg † (29 Apr 1802 Appointed - 31 Jan 1822 Died)
- Prosper de Tournefort † (13 Oct 1824 Appointed - 7 Mar 1844 Died)
- Bernard Buissas † (21 Apr 1844 Appointed - 24 Dec 1856 Died)
- Florian-Jules-Félix Desprez † (4 Feb 1857 Appointed - 30 Jul 1859 Appointed, Archbishop of Toulouse)
- Alfred Duquesnay † (16 Oct 1871 Appointed - 17 Feb 1881 Appointed Archbishop of Cambrai)
- Pierre Henri Lamazou † (17 Feb 1881 Appointed - 3 Jul 1883 Appointed Bishop of Amiens)
- François-Benjamin-Joseph Blanger † (3 Jul 1883 Appointed - 11 Dec 1887 Died)
- Firmin-Léon-Joseph Renouard † (28 Feb 1888 Appointed - 30 Nov 1913 Died)
- Hector-Raphaël Quilliet † (24 Dec 1913 Appointed - 18 Jun 1920 Appointed Bishop of Lille)
- Alfred Flocard † (16 Dec 1920 Appointed - 3 Mar 1938 Died)
- Louis-Paul Rastouil † (21 Oct 1938 Appointed - 7 Apr 1966 Died)
- Henri Gufflet † (7 Apr 1966 Succeeded - 13 Jul 1988 Retired)
- Léon-Raymond Soulier (13 Jul 1988 Succeeded - 24 Oct 2000 Retired)
- Christophe Dufour (24 Oct 2000 Appointed - 20 May 2008 Appointed, Coadjutor Archbishop of Aix)
- "Limoges". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Limoges". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.