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Diocese of Orléans

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This Diocese comprises the Department of Loiret, suffragan of Paris since 1622, previously of Sens. After the Revolution it was re-established by the Concordat of 1802, when it included the Departments of Loiret and Loir et Cher, but in 1822 Loir et Cher was included in the new Diocese of Blois. The present Diocese of Orléans differs considerably from that of the old regime; it has lost the arrondissement of Romorantin which has passed to the Diocese of Blois and the canton of Janville, now in the Diocese of Chartres. It includes the arrondissement of Montargis, formerly subject to Sens, the arrondissement of Gien, once in the Diocese of Auxerre, and the canton de Châtillon sur Loire, once belonging to Bourges. To Gerbert, Abbot of St. Pierre le Vif at Sens (1046-79), is due a detailed narrative according to which Saints Savinianus and Potentianus were sent to Sens by St. Peter with St. Altirius; the latter, it was said, came to Orléans as its first bishop. Before the ninth century there is no historical trace in the Diocese of Sens of this Apostolic mission of St. Altinus, nor in the Diocese of Orléans before the end of the fifteenth. Diclopitus is the first authentic bishop; he figures among the bishops of Gaul who (about 344) ratified the absolution of St. Athanasius. Other bishops of the early period are: St. Euvertius, about 355 to 385, according to M. Cuissard; St. Aignan (Anianus) (385-453), who invoked the aid of the "patrician" Ætius against the invasion of Attila, and forced the Huns to raise the siege of Orléans; St. Prosper (453-63); St. Monitor (about 472); St. Flou (Flosculus), died in 490; St. Eucherius (717-43), native of Orléans and a monk of Jumièges, who protested against the depredations of Waifre, a companion of Charles Martel, and was exiled to Cologne by this prince, then to Liège, and died at the monastery of St. Trond.

Of the eighth-century bishops, Theodulfus was notable. It is not known when he began to govern, but it is certain that he was already bishop in 798, when Charlemagne sent him into Narbonne and Provence as missus dominicus. Under Louis le Débonnaire he was accused of aiding the rebellious King of Italy, was deposed and imprisoned four years in a monastery at Angers, but was released when Louis came to Angers in 821. The "Capitularies" which Theodulfus addressed to the clergy of Orléans are considered a most important monument of Catholic tradition on the duties of priests and the faithful. His Ritual, his Penitential, his treatise on baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist, his edition of the Bible, a work of fine penmanship preserved in the Puy cathedral, reveal him as one of the foremost men of his time (see P.L., CV, 187). His fame rests chiefly on his devotion to the spread of learning. The Abbey of Ferrières was then becoming under Alcuin a centre of learning. Theodulfus opened the Abbey of Fleury to the young noblemen sent thither by Charlemagne, invited the clergy to establish free schools in the country districts, and quoted for them, "These that are learned shall shine as the brightness of the firmament: and they that instruct many to justice, as stars to all eternity" (Daniel 12:3). One monument of his time still survives in the diocese, the apse of the church of Germigny modelled after the imperial chapel, and yet retaining its unique mosaic decoration. Other noteworthy bishops are: Jonas (821-43), who wrote a treatise against the Iconoclasts, also a treatise on the Christian life and a book on the duties of kings (for these texts see P.L., CVI, 117); St. Thierry II (1016-21); Blessed Philip Berruyer (1234-6); Blessed Roger le Fort (1321-8); Cardinal Jean de Longueville (1521-33), who received Queen Eleanor, sister of Charles V, in the cathedral of Orléans, and King Francis I in the church of St. Aignan of Orléans; Cardinal Antoine* Sanguin (1534-52), who received Charles V at Orléans in 1539; Bernier (1802-6); Fayer (1843-9), member of the Constituent Assembly of 1848; Dupanloup (1849-78). For the Abbeys of Fleury and Ferrières see FLEURY and FERRIÈRES.

After his victory over the Alamanni, Clovis was bent on the sack of Verdun, but the archpriest there obtained mercy for his fellow-citizens. To St. Euspicius and his nephew St. Mesmin (Maximinus), Clovis also gave the domain of Micy, near Orléans at the confluence of the Loire and the Loiret, for a monastery (508). When Euspicius died, St. Maximinus became abbot, and during his rule the religious life flourished there notably, and the monastery counted many saints. From Micy monastic life spread. St. Liphardus and St. Urbicius founded the Abbey of Meung-sur-Loire; St. Lyé (Lætus) died a recluse in the forest of Orléans; St. Viatre (Viator) in Sologne; St. Doulchard in the forest of Ambly near Bourges. St. Leonard introduced the monastic life into the territory of Limoges; St. Almir, St. Ulphacius, and St. Bomer in the vicinity of Montmirail; St. Avitus (died about 527) in the district of Chartres; St. Calais (died before 536) and St. Leonard of Vendœuvre (died about 570) in the valley of the Sarthe; St. Fraimbault and St. Constantine in the Javron forest, and the aforesaid St. Bomer (died about 560) in the Passais near Laval; St. Leonard of Dunois; St. Alva and St. Ernier in Perche; St. Laumer (died about 590) became Abbot of Corbion. St. Lubin (Leobinus), a monk of Micy, became Bishop of Chartres from 544-56. Finally Ay (Agilus), Viscount of Orléans (died after 587), a protector of Micy, was also a saint. The monks of Micy contributed much to the civilization of the Orléans region; they cleared and drained the lands and taught the semi-barbarous inhabitants the worth and dignity of agricultural work. Early in the eighth century, Theodulfus restored the Abbey of Micy and at his request St. Benedict of Aniane sent fourteen monks and visited the abbey himself. The last abbot of Micy, Chapt de Rastignac, was one of the victims of the "September Massacres", at Paris, 1792, in the prison of L'Abbaye.

The schools of Orléans early acquired great prestige; in the sixth century Gontran, King of Burgundy, had his son Gondebaud educated there. After Theodolfus had developed and improved the schools, Charlemagne, and later Hugh Capet, sent thither their eldest sons as pupils. These institutions were at the height of their fame from the eleventh century to the middle of the thirteenth. Their influence spread as far as Italy and England whence students came to them. Among the medieval rhetorical treatises which have come down to us under the title of "Ars" or "Summa Dictaminis" four, at least, were written or re-edited by Orléans professors. In 1230, when for a time the doctors of the University of Paris were scattered, a number of the teachers and disciples took refuge in Orléans; when Boniface VIII, in 1298, promulgated the sixth book of the Decretals, he appointed the doctors of Bologna and the doctors of Orléans to comment upon it. St. Yves (1253-1303) studied civil law at Orléans, and Clement V also studied there law and letters; by a Bull published at Lyons, 27 January, 1306, he endowed the Orléans institutes with the title and privileges of a University. Twelve of his successors granted the new university many privileges. In the fourteenth century it had as many as five thousand students from France, Germany, Lorraine, Burgundy, Champagne, Picardy, Normandy, Touraine, Guyan, Scotland. Among those who studied or lectured there are quoted: in the fourteenth century, Cardinal Pierre Bertrandi; in the fifteenth, John Reuchlin; in the sixteenth, Calvin and Théodore de Bèze, the Protestant Anne Dubourg, the publicist François Hotmann, the jurisconsult Pierre de l'Etoile; in the seventeenth, Molière (perhaps in 1640), and the savant Du Cange; in the eighteenth, the jurisconsult Pothier.

Among the notabgsaints of the diocese are: St. Baudilus, a Nîmes martyr (third or fourth century); the deacon St. Lucanus, martyr, patron of Loigny (fifth century); the anchorite St. Donatus (fifth century); St. May, abbot of Val Benoît (fifth century); St. Mesme, virgin and (perhaps) martyr, sister of St. Mesmin (sixth century); St. Felicule, patroness of Gien (sixth century); St. Sigismund, King of Burgundy, who, by order of the Merovingian, Clodomir, and despite the entreaties of St. Avitus, was thrown (524) into a well with his wife and children; St. Gontran, King of Orléans and Burgundy (561-93), a confessor; St. Loup (Lupus), Archbishop of Sens, born near Orléans, and his mother St. Agia (first half of the seventh century); St. Gregory, former Bishop of Nicopolis, in Bulgaria, who died a recluse at Pithiviers (1004 or 1007); St. Rose, Abbess of Ervauville (died 1130); Blessed Odo of Orléans, Bishop of Cambrai (1105-13); the leper St. Alpaix, died in 1211 at Cudot where she was visited by Alix of Champagne, widow of Louis VII; St. Guillaume (died 1209), Abbot of Fontainejean and subsequently Archbishop of Bourges; the Dominicans, Blessed Reginald, dean of the collegiate church of St. Aignan, Orléans (died 1220); the Englishman St. Richard, who studied theology at Orléans in 1236, Bishop of Chichester in 1244, a friend of St. Edmund of Canterbury; St. Maurus, called to France by St. Innocent, Bishop of Mans, and sent thither by St. Benedict; resided at Orléans with four companions in 542; St. Radegonde, on her way from Noyon to Poitiers in 544, and St. Columbanus, exiled from Luxeuil at the close of the sixth century, both visited Orléans. Charlemagne had the church of St. Aignan rebuilt and reconstructed the monastery of St. Pierre le Puellier. In the cathedral of Orléans on 31 December, 987, Hugh Capet had his son Robert (born at Orléans) crowned king. Innocent II and St. Bernard visited Fleury and Orléans in 1130.

The people of Orléans were so impressed by the preaching of Blessed Robert of Arbrissel in 1113 that he was invited to found the monastery of La Madeleine, which he re-visited in 1117 with St. Bernard of Thiron. The charitable deeds of St. Louis at Puiseaux, Châteauneuf-sur-Loire, and Orléans, where he was present at the translation of the relics of St. Aignan (26 October, 1259), and where he frequently went to care for the poor of the Hôtel Dieu, are well known. Pierre de Beaufort, Archdeacon of Sully and canon of Orléans, as Gregory XI (1371-8), was the last pope that France gave to the Church; he created Cardinal Jean de la Tour d'Auvergne, Abbot of St. Benoît-sur Loire. Blessed Jeanne de Valois was Duchess of Orléans and after her separation from Louis XII (1498) she established, early in the sixteenth century, the monastery of L'Annonciade at Châteauneuf-sur-Loire. Etienne Dolet (1509-46), a printer, philologian, and pamphleteer, executed at Paris and looked upon by some as a "martyr of the Renaissance", was a native of Orléans. Cardinal Odet de Coligny, who joined the Reformation about 1560, was Abbot of St. Euvertius, of Fontainejean, Ferrières, and St. Benoît. Admiral Coligny (1519-72) (see SAINT BARTHOLOMEW'S DAY) was born at Châtillon-sur-Loing in the present diocese. At the beginning of the religious wars Orléans was disputed between the Guises and the followers of the Protestant Condé. In the vicinity of Orléans Duke Francis of Guise was assassinated 3 February, 1562.

The Calvinist, Jacques Bongars, councillor of Henry IV, who collected and edited the chronicles of the Crusades in his "Gesta Dei per Francos", was born at Orléans in 1554. The Jesuit, Denis Petav (Petavius), a renowned scholar and theologian, was born at Orléans in 1583. St. Francis of Sales came to Orléans in 1618 and 1619. Venerable Mother Françoise de la Croix (1591-1657), a pupil of St. Vincent de Paul, who founded the congregation of Augustinian Sisters of Charity of Notre Dame, was born at Petay in the diocese. The Miramion family, to which Marie Bonneau is celebrated in the annals of charity under the name of Mme de Miramion (1629-96), belonged by marriage, were from Orléans. St. Jane de Chantal was superior of the Orléans convent of the Visitation in 1627. Mme Guyon, celebrated in the annals of Quietism, was born at Montargis in 1648. France was saved from English domination through the deliverance of Orléans by Joan of Arc (8 May, 1429). On 21 July, 1455, her rehabilitation was publicly proclaimed at Orléans in a solemn procession, and before her death in November, 1458, Isabel Romée, the mother of Joan of Arc, saw a monument erected in honour of her daughter, at Tournelles, near the Orléans bridge. The monument, destroyed by the Huguenots in 1567, was set up again in 1569 when the Catholics were once more masters of the city. Until 1792, and again from 1802 to 1830, finally from 1842 to the present day, a great religious feast, celebrated 8 May of every year at Orléans in honour of Joan of Arc, attracted multitudes. The Church of Orléans was the last in France to take up again the Roman liturgy (1874). The Sainte Croix cathedral, perhaps built and consecrated by St. Euvertius in the fourth century, was destroyed by fire in 999 and rebuilt from 1278 to 1329; the Protestants pillaged and destroyed it from 1562 to 1567; the Bourbon kings restored it in the seventeenth century.

The principal pilgrimages of the diocese are: Our Lady of Bethlehem, at Ferrières; Our Lady of Miracles at Orléans, dating back to the seventh century (Joan of Arc visited its sanctuary 8 May, 1429); Our Lady of Cléry, dating from the thirteenth century, visited by Philip the Fair, Philip VI, and especially by Louis XI, who wore in his hat a leaden image of Notre Dame de Cléry and who wished to have his tomb in this sanctuary where Dunois, one of the heroes of the Hundred Years' war was also interred. Prior to the Associations Law of 1901 the Diocese of Orléans counted Franciscans, Benedictines, Missionary Priests of the Society of Mary, Lazarists, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, and several orders of teaching Brothers. Among the congregations of women which originated in this diocese must be mentioned: the Calvary Benedictines, a teaching and nursing order founded in 1617 by Princess Antoinette d'Orléans-Longueville, and the Capuchin Leclerc du Tremblay known as Père Joseph; the Sisters of St. Aignan, a teaching order founded in 1853 by Bishop Dupanloup, with mother-house in Orléans. At the beginning of the twentieth century the religious congregations of this diocese conducted: 1 crèche; 77 infant schools; 2 institutions for the deaf and dumb; 10 orphanages; 2 houses for penitent women, 12 religious houses for the care of the sick in their own homes; 2 houses of retreat; 27 hospitals or asylums; 1 poor house. In 1905 (last year of the Concordat) the diocese had 371,019 inhabitants; 41 pastorates; 293 succursal parishes; 23 vicariates subventioned by the State.


Gallia Christiana, VIII (1744), 1408-1513; Instrumenta, 479-546; DUCHESNE, Fastes Episcopaux, 453-60; CUISSARD, Les premiers évêques d'Orléans (Orléans, 1887); DUCHATEAU, Hist. du diocèse d'Orléans (ibid., 1888); BIMBENET, Hist. de la ville d'Orléans (3 vols., ibid., 1884-7); BAUNARD, Vie des saints et personages illustres de l'église d'Orléans (3 vols., ibid., 1862-3); COCHARD, Les saints de l'église d'Orléans (ibid., 1879); CUISSARD, Théodulfe, évêque d'Orléans, sa vie et ses œuvres (ibid., 1892); SÉJOURNÉ, Les reliques de St. Aignan, évêque d'Orléans (ibid., 1905); CUISSARD; Les chanoines et dignitaires de la cathédrale d'Orléans (ibid., 1900); DELISLE, Les écoles d'Orléans au douzième et au treizème siècles (Paris, 1869); BIMBENET, Hist. de l'université d'Orléans (Orléans, 1853); FOURNIER, Les statuts et privilèges des Universités françaises, I (Paris, 1890); JAROSSAY, Hist, d'un monastère orléanais, Micy St. Mesmin, son influence religieuse et sociale (Orléans, 1901).

About this page

APA citation. Goyau, G. (1911). Diocese of Orléans. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Goyau, Georges. "Diocese of Orléans." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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