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Roman Catholic Diocese of Laval

Coordinates: 48°04′07″N 0°46′43″W / 48.06861°N 0.77861°W / 48.06861; -0.77861
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Diocese of Laval

Dioecesis Valleguidonensis

Diocèse de Laval
Ecclesiastical provinceRennes
Area5,175 km2 (1,998 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
279,500 (est.) (91.6%)
Parishes31 'new parishes'
DenominationCatholic Church
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
Established30 June 1855
CathedralCathedral of the Holy Trinity in Laval
Patron saintImmaculate Conception
Secular priests112 (diocesan)
45 (Religious Orders)
Current leadership
Metropolitan ArchbishopPierre d'Ornellas
Website of the Diocese

The Diocese of Laval (Latin: Dioecesis Valleguidonensis; French: Diocèse de Laval) is a Latin Church ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Catholic Church in France. The episcopal see is Laval Cathedral in the city of Laval. Created in June 1855, the diocese was originally erected from the Diocese of Le Mans, and corresponds to the department of Mayenne. Under the Ancien Régime the diocese of Mans had an Archdeacon of Laval, whose responsibilities extended over the deaneries of Ernée, Évrun, Laval and Mayenne.[1] The diocese is a suffragan in the ecclesiastical province of the metropolitan Archdiocese of Rennes. The current bishop is Thierry Scherrer, appointed in 2008.[2]


At the beginning of the Revolution, the Constituent Assembly decided that the number of dioceses in France was excessive, and that approximately fifty of them could be eliminated. Those that survived would have their boundaries changed to coincide with new departmental subdivisions of France. This was contrary to Canon Law, which reserved the creation and suppression of dioceses, as well as the appointment and transfer (translation) of bishops to the Pope. In creating the new department of Mayenne, the French government produced a territory in which there was no established bishopric. The very large former diocese of Mans (now called Sarthe) was divided, and the western half given to the diocese of Mayenne, situated at Laval. A new Metropolitanate was created (the Métropole du Nord-Ouest), with its center at Rennes,[3] embracing the department-dioceses of Ille-et-Vilaine, Côtes du Nord, Finistère, Loire-Inférieure, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Morbihan, and Sarthe.[4]

In March 1791 the electors of the Department of Mayenne met to elect a constitutional bishop. These electors did not need to be active members of the Roman Catholic Church, nor even Christians. The election, therefore, was blasphemous and schismatic. The office of bishop was first offered to Abbé de Vauponts, the Vicar General of the (former) diocese of Dol. After some hesitation, he refused, and won a commendation from Pope Pius VI. On 20 March, the electors then turned to Father Noel-Gabriel-Luce Villar, a native of Toulouse and teacher of rhetoric at the Collège de Toulouse, and then principal of the Collège de la Flèche.[5] He was consecrated in Paris by the Constitutional Bishop Jean-Baptiste Gobel on 22 May 1791.[6] Gobel had been consecrated titular Bishop of Lydda in 1772, and therefore the consecration of Villar was valid, though uncanonical and schismatic.[7] The new bishop returned to Laval, and was installed in the church of la Trinité, which served as a cathedral for the Constitutionals. Only twenty-two ecclesiastics signed the record.[8] Villar participated in the Legislative Assembly, and voted King Louis XVI guilty, though not requiring the death penalty. In 1794, when Reason replaced Religion in France, he abandoned his ecclesiastical activities and no longer said Mass. He did not resign his bishopric, however, until 3 October 1798, under pressure from his Metropolitan, Bishop Le Coz.[9] He died on 26 August 1826.[10]

In October 1798 Bishop Le Coz was able to authorize an election, by the priests of Mayenne, to provide a successor to Bishop Villar. They chose Charles François Dorlodot (or D'Orlodot), the curé of the church of S. Vénérand in Laval, and Bishop Le Coz confirmed the election on 6 February 1799. Dorlodot was consecrated at Laval by Le Coz and the constitutional bishops of Saint-Brieuc and Vannes on 7 April 1799. He took part in the provincial council held by Le Coz in Rennes, and then in the national council held in Paris in 1800.[11] On November 29, 1801, by the bull Qui Christi Domini, Pope Pius VII suppressed all of the Roman Catholic dioceses in France, and reinstituted them under papal authority.[12] The Constitutional Diocese of Mayenne (Laval) was ignored by the Vatican, which had played no part in its existence. In 1802 the French government suppressed the diocese of Mayenne (Laval),[13] and Dordolot was named a Canon of Mans. He continued to reside in Laval, however, and found employment as librarian of the École Central until 1810, when he followed his patron Le Coz to Besançon.[14] He died in Besançon on 3 January 1816.[15]

In 1846 the creation of the new diocese was decided upon, but was not carried out until after the death of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Bouvier of Le Mans on 29 December 1854. A Bull of Pope Pius IX, June 30, 1855, established the See of Laval. The apologist Emile Bougaud was consecrated Bishop of Laval in February 1888, and died a few months later. The request of the Holy See in 1904 for the resignation of Bishop Pierre-Joseph Geay (1896-1904) was one of the reasons assigned by the French Republic for breaking with the pope and preparing the separation of Church and State.[16]

In August 1859 Bishop Casimir-Alexis-Joseph Wicart held a diocesan synod in the église S. Michel in Laval.[17] Bishop Grellier held a synod in November 1913.[18]

Bishops of Laval[edit]

Bishop Thierry Scherrer


  1. ^ Léon Maître, Dictionnaire topographique du Département de la Mayenne (Paris: Imprimerie nationaloe 1878), p. vii.
  2. ^ Diocèse de Laval, Biographie de Mgr Scherrer, retrieved: 2017-05-14. (in French)
  3. ^ Tableau des évêques constitutionnels de France, de 1791 a 1801 (in French). Paris: chez Méquignon-Havard. 1827. pp. 20–23.
  4. ^ Pisani, p. 125.
  5. ^ Bouiller, pp. 34-38.
  6. ^ Tableau, p. 22. Pisani, pp. 142 and 457.
  7. ^ Pisani, p. 53.
  8. ^ Bouiller, p. 38.
  9. ^ Pisani, p. 143.
  10. ^ Tableau, p. 22.
  11. ^ Pisani, p. 145.
  12. ^ Pius VI; Pius VII (1821). Collectio (per epitomen facta,) Bullarum, Brevium, Allocutionum, Epistolarumque, ... Pii VI., contra constitutionem civilem Cleri Gallicani, ejusque authores et fautores; item, Concordatorum inter ... Pium VII. et Gubernium Rei publicae, in Galliis, atque alia varia regimina, post modum in hac regione, sibi succedentia; tum expostulationum ... apud ... Pium Papam VII., Contra varia Acta, ad Ecclesiam Gallicanam, spectantia, a triginta et octo Episcopis, Archiepiscop. et Cardinal. antiquae Ecclesiae Gallicanae, subscriptarum, etc. 6 Avril, 1803 (in Latin). London: Cox & Baylis. pp. 111–121.
  13. ^ Bouiller, pp. 363-368. William Henley Jervis (1882). The Gallican Church and the Revolution. London: K. Paul, Trench, & Company. pp. 375–388.
  14. ^ Boullier, p. 372.
  15. ^ Pisani, p. 146-147.
  16. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Laval" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  17. ^ Casimir Alexis Joseph Wicart (1859). Actes du premier synode diocésain de Laval tenu dans l'église de Saint-Michel les 27, 28, et 29 août 1859 (in French). Laval: typographie de H. Godbert.
  18. ^ Eugène-Jacques Grellier, ed. (1914). Statuta synodalia dioecesis valleguidonensis promulgata in sessionibus 24, 25, 26 Novembris 1913 (in Latin). Laval: apud viduam A. Goupil.
  19. ^ E. L. Couanier de Launay (1888). Vie de Mgr. C. Wicart, Premier Évêque de Laval, et Histoire de L'érection de cet Évêché (in French). Paris.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) L'épiscopat français..., pp. 286–287.
  20. ^ Le Hardy was born in Valenciennes in 1833. La Gerarchia cattolica per l'anno 1882 (Roma: Monaldi 1882), p. 172. L'épiscopat français..., pp. 287–288.
  21. ^ He was consecrated on 25 July 1887. L'épiscopat français..., p. 288.
  22. ^ Bougard was born in Dijon in 1823. La Gerarchia cattolica per l'anno 1888 (Roma: Monaldi 1888), p. 184. L'épiscopat français..., pp. 288–289.
  23. ^ L'épiscopat français..., pp. 289–290.
  24. ^ Geay was born in 1845 in Saint-Symphorien-sur-Coise (Lyon). He served as Archpriest of the Cathedral of Lyon. He was nominated Bishop of Laval on 30 May 1896, and preconised (approved) by Pope Leo XIII on 25 June. He was consecrated a bishop on 6 September 1896 in Lyon by Archbishop Pierre-Hector Couillié. He resigned in 1904, at the demand of Pope Pius X because of his support of the government in the struggle over the separation of church and state in France. He died in 1919. Albert Monniot (1901). Un préfet violet: Mgr Geay, évêque de Laval (in French). Paris: Société française d'impr. et de publicité. "Pierre-Joseph Geay". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney.[self-published source] L'épiscopat français..., p. 290. Ritzler-Sefrin, VIII, p. 580.
  25. ^ Grellier was born at Joué (Maine-et-Loire) in 1850. He was preconised on 21 February 1906 by Pope Pius X, and consecrated by him in the Vatican on 25 February. Grellier had been Vicar General of the diocese of Angers and Vicar General of Cardinal Mathieu. He resigned on 15 June 1936. Nos évêques en 1907: Photographies et biographies. Lille: Imprimerie de la croix du nord. 1907. p. 91.
  26. ^ Christian Gury (2000). L'honneur flétri d'un évêque homosexuel en 1937 (in French). Paris: Kimé. ISBN 978-2-84174-186-1.
  27. ^ On 19 December 1933 Richaud was named Auxiliary Bishop of Versailles and titular Bishop of Irenopolis (Turkey). He was appointed Archbishop of Bordeaux on 10 February 1950. He was named Cardinal) by Pope John XXIII on 15 December 1958. He died in Bordeaux on 5 February 1968. Martin Bräuer (2014). Handbuch der Kardinäle: 1846-2012 (in German). Berlin: De Gruyter. p. 346. ISBN 978-3-11-026947-5.
  28. ^ Rousseau was born in Saint Sulpice (Blois) in 1893. He was appointed titular Bishop of Isba on 22 June 1943, and consecrated on 25 August 1943. He was appointed to the diocese of Mende on 3 November 1945, and transferred to Laval on 14 June 1950. On 28 February 1962 he was named titular Bishop of Ausafa (Byzacena). He died in Blois on 29 September 1967. Annuario Pontificio 1965 (Rome 1965), p. 528.
  29. ^ Billé was appointed Archbishop of Aix on 5 May 1995, and Archbishop of Lyon on 10 July 1998. He was named a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II on 21 February 2001. He died on 12 March 2002. Bräuer, p. 610. Christian Mens (2011). Eglise de Lentilly (in French). Paris: Editions Publibook. p. 323. ISBN 978-2-7483-7486-5.
  30. ^ On 11 September 2007 Bishop Maillard was named Archbishop of Bourges.

External links[edit]

48°04′07″N 0°46′43″W / 48.06861°N 0.77861°W / 48.06861; -0.77861