Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Besançon

Coordinates: 47°14′01″N 6°01′50″E / 47.23361°N 6.03056°E / 47.23361; 6.03056
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Archdiocese of Besançon

Archidiœcesis Bisuntina

Archidiocèse de Besançon
Coat of arms
Ecclesiastical provinceBesançon
Area9,732 km2 (3,758 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2015)
578,400 (95.1%)
DenominationCatholic Church
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
Established4th Century
CathedralCathedral of St. John
Patron saintImmaculate Conception
Current leadership
Metropolitan ArchbishopJean-Luc Bouilleret

The Archdiocese of Besançon (Latin: Archidiœcesis Bisuntina; French: Archidiocèse de Besançon) is a Latin Church ecclesiastical territory or archdiocese of the Catholic Church in France. It comprises the département of Doubs (except for Montbéliard) and the département of Haute-Saône (except for the canton of Héricourt).

The see is currently sede vacante. From 1034 to 1184, the archbishop had civil authority within the Holy Roman Empire as the prince-archbishop of Besançon. He gradually lost his civil power to the town council; the city became the Imperial city of Besançon in 1184. The city was annexed by France in stages, eventually being fully subsumed by France in 1792 during the French Revolution. The Archdiocese of Besançon is a metropolitan see with five suffragan dioceses in its ecclesiastical province: the Dioceses of Belfort-Montbéliard, Nancy, Saint–Claude, Saint-Dié, and Verdun.

Early history of the diocese[edit]

A statue of Ferreolus.

Local tradition states that the diocese was evangelized by Saints Ferreolus and Ferrutio (Ferréol and Ferjeux),[1] who were sent here by St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon. According to the Catholic encyclopedia, "Louis Duchesne proved that these legends belong to a chain of narratives forged in the first half of the 6th century and of which the "passion" of St. Benignus of Dijon was the initial link."[1]

During the Middle Ages several popes visited Besançon, among them pope Leo IX who consecrated the altar of the old Cathedral of St. Etienne in 1050, and Eugenius III who in 1148 consecrated the church of St. Jean, the new cathedral. A council was held at Besançon in 1162, presided over by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, in the interest of the Antipope Victor IV against Pope Alexander III. Guido of Burgundy, who was pope from 1119 to 1123 under the name of Calixtus II, and the Jesuit Claude-Adrien Nonnotte (1711–1793), an adversary of Voltaire, were natives of Besançon.

Later history[edit]

St. Peter Fourier (1565–1640), who inaugurated systematic education for girls, was born in the diocese. The miracle attributed to the "Sacred Host of Faverney", during a fire in the year 1608, was annually commemorated by elaborate ceremonies. The places of pilgrimage were Notre Dame du Chêne at Scey; Notre Dame d'Aigremont; the pilgrimage of Saint Peter of Tarentaise at Cirey-les-Bellevaux, where St. Pierre de Tarentaise died in 1174; Notre Dame des Jacobins at Besançon; and Notre Dame de la Motte at Vesoul.

Few 19th-century dioceses have undergone similar territorial changes. The Concordat of 1802 gave the Diocese of Besançon all those districts which, in 1822, constituted the Diocese of St.-Claude. In 1806, Besançon was given jurisdiction over the three parishes of the Principality of Neufchâtel (Switzerland) which fell under the control of the bishopric of Lausanne in 1814. In 1870, after the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine by Germany, the district of Belfort was withdrawn from the bishopric of Strasburg and attached to the diocese of Besançon.

The metropolitan jurisdiction of Besançon also underwent changes. In 1802 its suffragans were the Bishoprics of Dijon and Autun (in Burgundy), Metz, Nancy and Strasbourg (in Alsace-Lorraine). Under the Bourbon Restoration, Dijon and Autun were withdrawn from Besançon, which became the metropolitan of the sees of Saint-Dié, Verdun and Belley. In 1874, after the Franco-Prussian War, the churches of Metz and Strasburg were exempt, under the direct control of the Holy See.

On 3 November 1979, Belfort, Montbéliard, and the canton of Héricourt (Haute-Saône) were detached from the diocese of Besançon and constituted into a new autonomous diocese, that of Belfort-Montbéliard.[2]

Abbeys founded from the diocese[edit]

The monastery of Luxeuil, founded by St. Columbanus (d. 615), gave to the diocese of Besançon a series of saints. First came the direct successors of St. Columbanus: the Abbot St. Eustasius who founded a celebrated school in this monastery; the Abbot St. Valbert who sent monks to found the Abbeys of St. Valéry, St. Omer, and St. Bertin, and died in 665; the Abbot St. Ingofroid; St. Donatus, who became Bishop of Besançon; and St. Ansegisus, author of a celebrated collection of capitularies.

The Abbey of Lure (in Haute-Saône) was founded at the beginning of the 7th century by St. Déicole (Deicolus), or Desle, disciple of St. Columbanus; later its abbots were princes of the Holy Empire. The Abbey of Beaume les Dames, founded in the 5th century and in which Gontram, King of Burgundy, was buried, was the school where St. Odo, afterwards Abbot of Cluny, studied in the tenth century; at the end of the eighth century there was built near it an abbey for Benedictine nuns, members of the nobility. During the French Revolution the superb church of this abbey was laid waste. Other saints of the Diocese of Besançon include the hermit St. Aldegrin (10th century).


To 1000[edit]

Saint Claudius served as bishop of Besançon during the 7th century.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "the catalogue of the earliest bishops of Besançon is to be read with caution."[1]

  • Ferreolus 180?–211?
  • Linus
  • Antidius I. c. 267
  • Germanus
  • Maximinus died before 304
  • Paulinus died c. 310
  • Eusebius
  • Hilarius
  • Pancharius (attested 346)[3]
  • Justus c. 362
  • Aegnanus died c. 374
  • Sylvester I 376–396?
  • Anianus (4th century)
  • Fronimius
  • Desideratus
  • Leontius ?–443
  • Chelidonius c. 445, died 451?, deposed by Hilary of Arles
  • Antidius II
  • Chelmegisl
  • Claudius I c. 517
  • Urbicus c. 549
  • Tetradius I c. 560
  • Sylvester II. c. 580
  • Vitalis I
  • St. Rothadius, a monk at Luxeuil and organizer of the monastic life
  • Nicetas died c. 611
  • Protadius 614?–624?
  • St. Donatus, a monk at Luxeuil, wrote a rule for canon priests in his diocese, died 660
  • Migetius
  • Ternatius died c. 680
  • St. Gervase c. 680, died 685)
  • Claudius II, 685, died 693?
  • Felix c. 710
  • Tetradius II died 732
  • Albo c. 742
  • Wandelbert
  • Evrald
  • Arnoul
  • Hervaeus 757–762
  • Saint Gedeon died 796
  • Bernoin 811–829
  • Amalwin 838–840
  • Arduicus 843–872
  • Theoderic I 872–895
  • Berengar 895–831
  • Aymin c. 914
  • Gontier c. 931
  • Gottfried I 944–953
  • Guy 958–970
  • Guichard
  • Leutald 993–994


  • Hektor 1002–1015
  • Walter I 1016–1031
  • Hugh I of Besançon (1031–1067)[4]
  • Hugo II de Montfaucon (died 1085)
  • Hugo III of Burgundy (1085–1101)[5]
  • Hugo IV (1102–1107)
  • Guillaume I de Arguel (1109?–1117)
  • Anseric de Montréal 1117–1134
  • Humbert 1134–1162
  • Walter II 1162–1163
  • Herbert (schismatic) 1163–1170
  • Eberhard de Saint-Quentin 1171–1180
  • Theoderic II. de Montfaucon 1180–1191
  • Etienne de Vienne 1191–1193
  • Amadeus de Tramelay 1197–1220
  • Gerard I. de Rougemont (1221–1225)
  • Jean Allegrin) (1225–1227)[6]
  • Nicolas de Flavigny (1227–1235)
  • Gottfried II. (1236–1241)
  • Jean II. (1242–1244)
  • Guillaume de la Tour (1245–1268)
  • Odo de Rougemont (1269–1301)



  • 1498-1502 : François de Busleyden
  • 1502–1541 : Antoine I. de Vergy
  • 1541–1544 : Cardinal Pierre de la Beaume[7]
  • 1544–1584 : Claude III. de la Beaume (Cardinal in 1578)
  • 1584–1586 : Cardinal Antoine II. de Perrenot[8]
  • 1586–1636 : Ferdinand de Rye
  • 1636–1637 : Francois III. de Rye (Coadjutor from 1623)
  • 1637–1654 : Claude IV. de Achey
  • 1654–1659 : Charles Emanuel de Gorrevot, never consecrated
  • 1659–1662 : Jean Jacques Fauche
  • 1662–1698 : Antoine-Pierre de Grammont[9]
  • 1698–1717 : Francois-Joseph de Grammont
  • 1717–1721 : René de Mornay
  • 1723–1731 : Honoré de Grimaldi
  • 1733–1734 : Antoine-Francois de Bliterswijk-Montcley
  • 1735–1754 : Antoine Pierre II. de Grammont
  • 1754–1774 : Antoine Clairiard de Choiseul de Beaupré (Cardinal in 1761)
  • 1774–1792 : Raymond de Durfort
  • 1791–1793 : Philippe-Charles-François Seguin
    • 1791–1801 : Flavigny
    • 1798–1801 : Demandre

From 1800[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Besancon (Vesontio)". Retrieved 2020-03-28.
  2. ^ Historique — Diocèse de Besançon - Eglise Catholique de Besançon Archived 2009-10-20 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Bishop Pancharius (not "Pancratius") attended the synod of Cologne on 12 May 346. Duchesne, p. 212, no. 1. Charles Munier, Concilia Galliae, A. 314 – A. 506, (in Latin) (Turnholt: Brepols 1963), p. 27. The name "Pancratius" occurs in the "Nomina episcoporum Vesontionensis" as the 6th bishop, who was consecrated by Pope Julius]] (337–352): DUchesne, p. 200.
  4. ^ Hugh I of Salins, prince of the Empire, founded markets and schools in Besançon
  5. ^ Hugo was son of William I, Count of Burgundy, brother of Pope Callixtus II
  6. ^ "Récit de la Franche-Comté ou Comté de Bourgogne". Retrieved 2020-03-28.
  7. ^ De la Beaume had been Coadjutor from 1530; Cardinal in 1541.
  8. ^ Also known as Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle, he was the minister of Philip II and built the palace of Besançon
  9. ^ Grammont opposed Jansenism and the Reformation. In 1691, he transferred to Besançon the University of Dôle.


Reference works[edit]


External links[edit]

47°14′01″N 6°01′50″E / 47.23361°N 6.03056°E / 47.23361; 6.03056