Dominique Marie Varlet

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Dominique-Marie Varlet

Dominique-Marie Varlet (15 March 1678, Paris - 14 May 1742, Rijswijk) was a French Catholic bishop who caused a schism with the Roman Catholic Church. He had a doctorate in theology from the Sorbonne and was ordained in 1706, exercising his ministry first in parishes around Paris.

After a stint in the seminary of Foreign Missions of Paris, he went to North America to evangelize the Indians of New France from 1713 to 1718. On a visit to Quebec in 1718, he was recalled to France by the hierarchy, named Coadjutor of Msgr. Pidou Louis-Marie de Saint-Olon (1637–1712), Bishop of Babylon, and consecrated in Paris on 19 February 1719 by Jacques de Goyon Matignon, Bishop Emeritus of Condom.

He went to Persia, stopping in Amsterdam, where he learned that the episcopal see of Utrecht was vacant because the Pope had refused the candidate proposed by the Cathedral Chapter of Utrecht, with Canon Cornelius Steenoven suspected of Jansenism.

Varlet agreed to confirm several hundred people, then left for his bishopric in Babylon. He then moved to Shamaké (now in Azerbaijan). On 26 March 1720, he learned that Rome had suspended him from duty on 7 May 1719, following confirmation that he had ministered in the Netherlands.

He left for Europe, trying in vain to lift the ban. He took refuge in the Netherlands. He consecrated, against the orders of the Pope, a succession of bishops as the head of Utrecht: Steenoven in 1724, Cornelius John Barchman in 1733, Theodore van der Croon, and Pierre John Meindartz in 1739.

Varlet and the elected bishops consecrated by him and their followers were excommunicated as schismatics. This schism marked the birth of the Old Catholic Church, which collected many opponents to Unigenitus.


Further reading[edit]

  • Thériault, Serge A. "La Sainte Trinité dans la théologie de Dominique Varlet, aux origines du vieux-catholicisme", Internationale Kirchliche Zeitschrift, Jahr 73, Heft 4 (Okt.-Dez. 1983), p. 234-245.

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