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Diocese of Grenoble (Gratianopolitana)

Now comprises the Department of Isère and the Canton of Villeurbanne (Rhône). The ancient diocese was a suffragan of Vienne and included the Deanery of see at Savoy, which in 1779, was made a bishopric with the see at Chambéry. By the Concordat, the Bishop of Grenoble was made a suffragan of the Archbishop of Lyons, thirteen archipresbyterates of the former Diocese of Vienne were affiliated to the Diocese of Grenoble, and there were annexes to it some parishes in the Dioceses of Belley, Gap, Lyons, and Die.

Domninus, the first Bishop of Grenoble known to history, attended the Council of Aquileia in 381. Among his successors are mentioned: St. Ceratus (441-52), celebrated in legend for his controversies against Arianism; St. Ferjus (Ferreolus) (at the end of the seventh century), who, according to tradition, was killed by a pagan while preaching; St. Hugh (1080-1132), noted for his zeal in carrying out Gregory VII's orders concerning reform and for his opposition to Guy of Burgundy, Bishop of Vienne, and subsequently pope under the title of Callistus II; Pierre Scarron (1621-1667), who, with the co-operation of many religious orders, restored Catholicism in Dauphiné; Cardinal Le Camus (1671-1707), organizer of charitable loan associations; Jean de Caulet (1726-1771), who brought about general acceptance of the Bull "Unigenitus", whose collection of books was the nucleus of the public library of the city, and during whose episcopate Bridaine, the preacher, after delivering a sermon on almsgiving went through the streets of the city with wagons and was unable to gather all the donations of linen, furniture and clothing that were offered. The Benedictines and Augustinians founded at an early date numerous priories in the diocese, that of Vizille dating from 994, but during St. Hugh's episcopal administration, monastic life attained a fuller development. The chapter-abbey of Saint-Martin de Miséré, whence originated many Augustinian priories, and the school of the priory of Villard Benoît at Pontcharra were important during twelfth and thirteenth centuries. But the peculiar monastic foundation of Dauphiné, contemporaneous with St. Hugh's regime, was that of the Carthusians under St. Bruno in 1084. The Frères du Saint-Esprit, who during the Middle Ages were scattered broadcast through the Diocese of Grenoble, did much to inculcate among the people habits of mutual assistance. The two sojourns at Grenoble in 1598 and 1600 respectively by Cotton, the Jesuit, later confessor to Henry IV, were prolific of some notable conversions from Protestantism; in memory of this the Constable de Lesdiguières, himself a convert in 1622, favoured the founding at Grenoble of a celebrated Jesuit house. In 1651 a college was established in connexion with the residence, and here Vaucanson, the well-known mechanician, studied. In 1700 the institution included theological courses in its curriculum. From the first half of the thirteenth century the French branch of the Waldenses had its chief seat in Dauphiné, from which country emanated Guillaume Farel, the most captivating preacher of the French Reformation. Pierre de Sébiville, an apostate Franciscan friar, introduced Protestantism into Grenoble in 1522. The diocese was sorely tried by the wars of religion, especially in 1562, when the cruel Baron des Andrets acted as the Prince de Condés lieutenant-general in Dauphiné. Pius VI, when taken a prisoner to France, spent two days at Grenoble in 1799. Pius VII, in turn was kept in close confinement in the prefecture of Grenoble from 21 July until 2 August, 1808, Bishop Simon not being permitted even to visit him.

The following saints may be mentioned as natives of what constitutes the present Diocese of Grenoble: St. Amatus, the anchorite (sixth century), founder of the Abbey of Remiremont, and St. Peter, Archbishop of Tarantaise (1102-1174), a Cistercian, born in the Ancient Archdiocese of Vienne. Moreover, it was in the chapel of the superior ecclesiastical seminary of Grenoble that J.-B. Vianney, the future Curé of Ars, was ordained a priest, 13 August, 1815. The Bishopric of Grenoble is in possession of an almost complete account of the pastoral visits made between 1339 and 1970, a palæographical record perhaps unique of its kind in France.

Archbishopric of Vienne

The legend according to which Crescens, the first Bishop of Vienne, is identical with the Crescens of 2 Timothy 4:20 certainly postdates the letter of Pope Zosimus to the Church of Arles (417) and the letter of the bishops of Gaul in 451; because, although both these documents allude to the claims to glory which Arles owes to St. Trophimus, neither of them mentions Crescens. Archbishop Ado, of Vienne, (860-75) set afoot this legend of the Apostolic origin of the See of Vienne and put down St. Zachary, St. Martin, and St. Verus, later successors of Crescens, as belonging to the Apostolic period. This legend was confirmed by the "Recueil des privilèges de l'Église de Viene", which, however, was not compiled under the supervision of the future Pope Callistus II, as M. Gundlach has maintained, but a little earlier date, about 1060, as Mgr. Duchesne has proved. This collection contains the pretended letters of a series of popes, from Pius I to Paschal II, and sustains the claims of the Church of Vienne. "Le Livre épiscopal de l'archevêque Léger" (1030-1070) included both the inventions of Ado and the forged letters of the "Recueil".

It is historically certain that Verus, present at the Council of Arles in 314, was the fourth Bishop of Vienne. In the beginning the twelve cities of the two Viennese provinces were under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Vienne, but when Arles was made an archbishopric, at the end of the fourth century, the See of Vienne grew less important. The disputes that later arose between it and the See of Arles concerning their respective antiquity are well-known in ecclesiastical history. In 450 Leo I gave the Archbishop, or Vienne the right to ordain the Bishop of Tarantaise, Valance, Geneva, and Grenoble. Many vicissitudes followed, and the territorial limit of the powers of Metropolitan of Vienne followed the wavering frontier of the Kingdom of Burgundy and in 779, was considerably restricted by the organization of a new ecclesiastical province comprising Tarantaise, Aosta, and Sion. In 1120 Callistus II, who was Bishop of Vienne under the name of Guy of Burgundy, decided that the Archbishop of Vienne should have for suffragans the Bishops of Grenoble, Valence, Die, Viviers, Geneva, and Maurienne; that the Archbishop of Tarantaise should obey him, notwithstanding the fact that this archbishop himself had suffragans, that he should exercise the primacy over the provinces of Bourges, Narbonne, Bordeaux, Aix, Auch, and Embrun, and that, as the metropolitans of both provinces already bore the title of primate, the Archbishop of Vienne should be known as the "Primate of Primates". In 1023 the Archbishops of Vienne became lords paramount. They had the title of Count, and when in 1033 the Kingdom or Arles was reunited to the empire, they retained their independence and obtained from the empire the title of Archchancellors of the Kingdom or Arles (1157). Besides the four Bishops of Vienne heretofore mentioned, others are honoured as saints. In enumerating them we shall follow M. Duchesne's chronology: St. Justus, St. Dionysius, St. Paracodes, St. Florentius (about 374), St. Lupicinus, St. Simplicius (about 400), St. Paschasius, St. Nectarius, St. Nicetas (about 449), St. Mamertus (d. 475 or 476), who instituted the rogation days, whose brother Claudianus Mamertus was known as a theologian and poet, and during whose episcopate St. Leonianus held for forty years the post of grand penitentiary at Vienne; St. Avitus (494-5 Feb., 518), St. Julianus (about 520-533), St. Pantagathus (about 538), St. Namatius (d. 559), St. Evantius (d. 584-6), St. Verus (586), St. Desiderius (Didier) 596-611, St. Domnolus (about 614), St. Ætherius, St. Hecdicus, St. Chaoaldus (about 654-64), St. Bobolinus, St. Georgius, St. Deodatus, St. Blidrannus (about 680), St. Eoldus, St. Eobolinus, St. Barnardus (810-41), noted for his conspiracies in favour of the sons of Louis the Pious, St. Ado (860-875), author of a universal history and two martyrologies, St. Thibaud (end of the tenth century). Among its later bishops were Guy of Burgundy (1084-1119), who became pope under the title of Callistus II, Christophe de Beaumont, who occupied the See of Vienne for seven months of the year 1745 and afterwards became Archbishop of Paris, Jean Georges Le Franc de Pompignan (1774-90), brother of the poet and a great enemy of the "philosophers", and also d'Aviau (1790-1801), illustrious because of his strong opposition to the civil constitution of the clergy and the first of the emigré bishops to re-enter France (May, 1797), returning under an assumed name and at the peril of his life.

Michael Servetus was living in Vienne, whither he had been attracted by Archbishop Palmier, when Calvin denounced him to the Inquisition for his books. During the proceedings ordered by ecclesiastical authority of Vienne, Servetus fled to Switzerland (1553) In 1605 the Jesuits founded a college at Vienne, and here Massilon taught at the close of the seventeenth century. The churches of Saint-Pierre and Saint-André le Haut are ancient Benedictine foundations. (For the celebrated council held at Vienne in 1311 see TEMPLARS and COUNCIL OF VIENNE.)

After the Concordat of 1801 the title of Vienne passed to the See of Lyons, whose titular was henceforth called "Archbishop of Lyons and Vienne," although Vienne belongs to the Diocese of Grenoble.

The principal places of pilgrimage in the present Diocese of Grenoble are: Notre-Dame de Parménie, near Rivers, re-established in the seventeenth century at the instance of a shepherdess; Notre-Dame de l'Osier, at Vinay, which dates from 1649 and Notre-Dame de la Salette, which owes its origin to the apparition of the Virgin, 19 September, 1846, to Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Mathieu, the devotion to Notre-Dame de la Salette being authorized by Bishop Bruillard, 1 May, 1852.

Before the enforcement of the law of 1901 there were in the Diocese of Grenoble Assumptionists, Olivétans, Capuchins, Regular Canons of the Immaculate Conception, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Fathers of Holy Ghost and the Holy Heart of Mary, Brothers of the Cross of Jesus, Brothers of the Holy Family, Brothers of the Christian Schools and Brothers of the Sacred Heart. The diocesan congregations of women were: the Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, devoted to hospital work and teaching, and founded by Cathiard, who, after having been an officer under Napoleon, died Archpriest of Pont de Beauvoisin; the Sisters of Providence, founded in 1841, devoted to hospital duty and teaching (mother-house at St. Marcellin), and the Sisters of Our Lady of the Cross, likewise devoted to hospital and educational work, founded in 1832 (mother-house at Murinais). Prior to the congregations law of 1901, the following institutions in the Diocese of Grenoble were in charge of religious orders: 65 infant schools, 1 asylum for incurable children, 2 asylums for deaf-mutes, 4 boys' orphanages, 8 girls' orphanages, 7 free industrial schools (ouvroirs), 2 houses of shelter, 33 hospitals, hospices, or private hospitals, 1 dispensary, and 18 houses for religious nurses caring for the sick in their homes. In 1905, when the Concordat ceased, the Diocese of Grenoble had a population of 601,940 souls, with 51 parishes, 530 succursales, and 87 curacies subventioned by the State.

University of Grenoble

Created by three Bulls of Benedict XII, 12 May, 27 May, and 30 September, 1339. On 25 July, 1339, the Dauphin Humbert II (the counts of Dauphiné bore the title of Dauphin) drew up a charter of the privileges granted to the students at Grenoble, promulgated measures to attract them, and stipulated that the university should give instruction in civil and canon law, medicine, and the arts. A curious ordinance issued 10 May, 1340 by Humbert II commanded the destruction of all the forges in the vicinity of Grenoble lest they should produce an irreparable famine of wood and charcoal. Humbert may have wished that life should be frugal where university was established. Finally on 1 August, 1340, he declared that the superior court of justice of Dauphiné (conseil delphinal), which he removed from Saint-Marcellin to Grenoble, should be composed of seven counsellors, four whom might be chosen from among the professors at Grenoble. Humbert's projects do not appear to have been completely realized. The university lacked resources, indeed arts and medicine were not taught, and even the chairs of law seem scarcely to have survived the reign of Humbert II. At all events, when Louis XI created the University of Valence in 1452, he declared that no institution of the kind existed at that time in Dauphiné. But in 1542 François de Bourbon, Count of Saint-Pol, great-uncle of Henry IV of France, and governor of Dauphiné, re-established the university. The Italian jurist Gribaldi, the Portuguese jurist Govea, and the French jurist Pierre Lorioz, called Loriol, attracted many students thither, but the orthodoxy of these professors was suspected. This was one of the reasons which, in April, 1565, led Charles IX to unite the University of Grenoble to that of Valence, for which in 1567 Bishop Montluc, well known as a diplomat and powerful at court, was able to obtain the noted jurist Cujas. The citizens of Grenoble protested and sent delegates to Paris, but the edict of union between the universities was strengthened by the circumstance that at the very time when Charles IX published his edict Govea and Loriol were compelled to institute a suite against the town of Grenoble in order to secure the payment of their arrears of salary. Equally ineffectual were the efforts for the renewal of the university frequently made by the town in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Napoleon I, on 1 November, 1805, re-established the faculty of law of Grenoble. Since 1896 the different faculties of Grenoble form the University of Grenoble.


I. DIOCESE: Gallia Christiana (Nova) (1866), XVI, 1-146; 217-264, instrumenta, 1-172; PRUDHOMME, Histoire de Grenoble (Grenoble, 1888); VERNET, Histore de Grenoble (3 vols., Grenoble, 1900-2); "cenotes">II. UNIVERSITY: MARCEL FOURNIER, Les statuts et privilèges des universités francaises, II (Paris, 1891), 723-28; PAUL FOURNIER, L'ancienne université de Grenoble; BUSQET, Documents relatifs à l'ancienne université in Livre du centenaire de la faculté de droit (Grenoble, 1906), 12-69, 115-261. BELLET, Notes pour servir à la géographie et à l'histoire de l'ancien diociese de Grenoble Montbéliard, 1833); IDEM, De I'apostolicité de léglise de Vienne in Semaine Religieuse de Grenoble (1869-70); GUNDLACH, Der Streit der Bisth?mer Arles und Vienne (HANOVER, 1890); DUCHESNE, Fastes épiscopaux, I, 84-206; Jules Chevalier, Mémoire sur les Héresies en Dauphiné (Valence, 1890); PRA, Les Jésuites à Grenoble (Lyons, 1901); COLLOMBET, Histoire de la sainte église de Vienne (4 vols., Vienne, 1847-48); MERMET, Chronique religieuse de la ville de Vienne (Vienne, 1856).

About this page

APA citation. Goyau, G. (1910). Grenoble. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Goyau, Georges. "Grenoble." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Deborah Tankersley.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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