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At first very extensive, the diocese lost Haute-Auvergne in 1317 through the reorganization of the structure of bishoprics in southern France and Aquitaine by Pope John XXII, resulting in the creation of the diocese of Saint-Flour. In 1822, in the reorganization of French dioceses by Pope Pius VII, following the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, the diocese of Clermont lost the Bourbonnais, on account of the erection of the diocese of Moulins. Since the reorganization in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, there are now four dioceses in the Province of Clermont: Clermont, Le Puy-en-Velay, Moulins, and Saint-Flour.
The first Bishop of Clermont was Saint Austremonius (Stramonius). According to local tradition he was one of the seventy-two Disciples of Christ, by birth a Jew, who came with Saint Peter from Palestine to Rome and subsequently became the Apostle of Auvergne, Berry, Nivernais, and Limousin. At Clermont he is said to have converted the senator Cassius and the pagan priest Victorinus, to have sent Saint Sirenatus (Cerneuf) to Thiers, Saint Marius to Salers, Saint Nectarius (Nectaire) and Saint Antoninus into other parts of Auvergne, and to have been beheaded in 92. This tradition is based on a life of Saint Anstremonius written in the tenth century in the Mozac Abbey, where the body of the saint had rested from 761, and rewritten by the monks of Issoire, who retained the saint's head. Gregory of Tours, born in Auvergne in 544 and well versed in the history of that country, looks upon Austremonius as one of the seven envoys who, about 250, evangelized Gaul; he relates how the body of the saint was first interred at Issoire, being there the object of great veneration.
Several famous Jansenists were natives of Clermont: Blaise Pascal, author of the Pensées (1623-62); the Arnauld family, and Jean Soanen (1647-1740), Bishop of Senez, famous for his stubborn opposition to the Bull "Unigenitus". On the other hand, the city of Riom in the diocese of Clermont was the birthplace of Jacques Sirmond, the learned Jesuit (1559-1651), Confessor to Louis XIII and editor of the volumes on the ancient councils of Gaul.
Other natives worth mention were the Abbé Jacques Delille, poet and Academician (1738-1813); and François Dominique de Reynaud, Comte de Montlosier, the publicist (1755-1838), who was a member of the Estates General of 1789 for Clermont-Ferrand and a Royalist in the Convention, famous for his memoir against the Jesuits and for his being refused a Catholic burial by Bishop Ferou. The famous Jesuit paleontologist and philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) was born only seven miles from Clermont, in the Château d'Orcines; his publications were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. Undoubtedly, and by far, the most famous native sons of the diocese of Clermont were Édouard Michelin (1859-1940) and his elder brother André Michelin (1853-1931), who perfected the pneumatic tire.
In the diocese of Clermont, the King of France enjoyed the right of nomination of the head of numerous houses. These included the Benedictine abbeys of Saint-Austremoine d'Issiore, Ebrulles, La Chaise-Dieu, Saint-Allire-les-Clermont, Manlieu (Grand-lieu), Mauzac près de Riom, Menat, Saint Symphorien, Thiers, and Aurillac. Cistercian abbeys included: Bellaigue, Bouchet (Vau-Luisant), Mont-Peyroux, and Val-honneste. The king nominated the Abbot of the Augustinian house at Chantoin, as well as the Premonstratensian Abbots of Saint-André-lez-Clermont, Saint-Gilbert-de-Neuf-fontaines, and the abbeys of Beaumont, La Boissie, Cessac, and L'Eschelle. Priories which were royal benefices were: Bragat, Cusset, Theulle (Ordre de Grammont), and Sallignac. He also held the nomination of the Collegiate Churches of Arthonne (the Abbot), Verneul (the Dean, Chanter, and five prebends), and the Dean of Saint-Amable de Rion. Other abbeys in the diocese included Saint-Pourçain, between Clermont and Moulins.
The mendicant orders began to appear in the diocese of Clermont at an early date. The Franciscans were installed in Montferrand around 1224, and shortly thereafter at Le Puy. The Dominicans were in evidence in Clermont itself by 1227 and the Franciscans in 1241. The Dominicans also settled in Aurillac ca 1230, at Riom (1233) and at Brioude (ca. 1240-1244). Clermont also had houses of Clarisses and Carmelites. The Augustinians settled at Ennezat in 1352 and the Carmelites at Aurillac in 1358. The Dominicans opened a convent at Saint-Flour before 1367. The Celestines took up residence in Vichy in 1410. The reformed Franciscans appeared in the fifteenth century, and the observant Franciscans in 1430 at Murat.
The Jesuits established themselves in Clermont with the College de Clermont in 1630, after a stormy beginning in which the municipality attempted to bring the College under its control. The institution grew in numbers and prestige until 1762, when an ordinance of the Parlement of Paris of 27 February forbade the municipal officers of Clermont from choosing the masters and regents of the College from among the Jesuits. The Jesuits left Clermont in March, and the Society of Jesus was completely suppressed in France in 1764. Thereafter the College was administered by a committee, authorized by a royal order, of which the Bishop was the chair. In 1791 the College became an 'Institut' administered by the Directorate of the Département, and in 1796 it became the École centrale du département de Puy-de-Dôme and was administered by the municipal committee on public instruction. The Jesuits also had colleges at Billom and Mauriac.
The Council of 535 met under the presidency of Bishop Honoratus of Bourges and ratified at least fifteen canons, including one (§2) that ordered that bishops be elected by the clergy and people, with the consent of the Metropolitan; and one (§8) that forbade that Jews be appointed judges over Christians. Canon 6 prohibited sexual relations between a Christian and a Jew.
The Council of 590 met at the southern border of the diocese of Clermont, where it touches the dioceses of Mende and Rodez. The bishops at the meeting, including perhaps Avitus of Clermont and Innocentius of Rodez attempted to deal with the complicated business of Tetradia, the widow of one Desiderius, and her dealings with Count Eulalius.
The earliest cathedral in Clermont is naturally attributed to Saint Austremonius, the first bishop, and would therefore be a work of the third century; this is hardly likely, since Christianity was still an illegal cult, nor is it likely that it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, given that the second cathedral had a different dedication. The second building is attributed to Bishop Namatius, in the mid-fifth century, and took twelve years to construct. It was dedicated to SS. Vitalis and Agricola. This building is described by Gregory of Tours in glowing terms. The first stone for the third cathedral was laid in 937, and it was dedicated by Bishop Stephanus (II) nine years later. It was dedicated to the Virgin, SS. Vitalis and Agricola, S. Croix, S. Gervais, S. John the Baptist, S. Julian the Martyr, and the Holy Angel. The fourth and current cathedral was founded in 1248 by Bishop Hugues de la Tour, who laid the first stone before his departure for Crusade. The cathedral was finally consecrated in 1341, though it was still uncompleted.
The Cathedral Chapter of Clermont had three dignities (the Provost, the Abbot, and the Dean); there were thirty-five Canons, all of which were filled by vote of the Chapter. The Chapter was suppressed by the Constitutional government in 1793. It was reestablished in accordance with the Concordat of 1801 by Bishop Du Valk de Dampierre in April 1803, with only one dignity, the Grand Chantre, and ten canons.
The Grand Seminaire de Clermont was the idea of Bishop Louis d'Estaing (1650-1664), whose principal concern was the improvement of the condition of the clergy of his diocese. In 1653 the bishop entered into an agreement with the Abbey of Saint-Alyre for the conversion of an unused priory in Clermont for his seminary, in exchange for a tax abatement. The project won the approval of the government of Louis XIV in a royal edict of 1654. In 1775 the Grand Seminary was transferred to larger quarters, and its quarters handed over to the Petit Seminaire which had been founded in 1712. Both were closed by order of the Revolutionary government and the buildings were sold on 11 February 1791 and turned into a barracks. The Grand Seminary was reconstituted by Bishop Du Valk de Dampierre in 1804 at Montferrand, along with the Minor Seminary. In 1980 the Grand Seminaire de Clermont was forced to close its doors, due to the small number of ordinands. Students for the priesthood from the diocese now attend the Séminaire Saint-Irénée de Francheville, near Lyon.
^Hefele, IV, p. 371. J.D. Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, editio novissima, Tomus IX (Florence 1763), pp. 141-146. It is interesting that no bishop of Auvergne (Clermont) subscribes, though Bishop Gallus was present at the Council of Orleans earlier in the same year.
^The Council of 585/588 was a provincial synod, presided over by the Archbishop of Bourges: Mansi, IX (Florence 1763), 973-974.
^The council in confinio trium civitatum (Arverni, Gabalitani, Rutheni; Clermont, Mende, Rodez): Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum Book X, chapter 8. Mansi, Tomus X, pp. 453-456. Gonod (1833), p. 13. De Clercq, p. 261.
^Robert Somerville (1974). "The Council of Clermont (1095), and Latin Christian Society". Archivum Historiae Pontificiae. 12: 55-90, especially 57-60. JSTOR23563638.
^Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum Book X, chapter 8. Duchesne, pp. 36, 40, 55.
^P. Jaffé, Regesta pontificum Romanorum, I, editio altera (Leipzig 1885), p. 681-682. Urban II left Clermont in the first days of December.
^Adrien de Brimont (1862). Un Pape au moyen âge. Urbain II (in French). Paris: Ambroise Bray. pp. 243-285. D. C. Munro, "The Speech of Pope Urban II at Clermont," American Historical Review, XI (1906), 231--242. R. Somerville (1976), 'The Council of Clermont and the First Crusade', Studia Gratiana, 20 (1976), pp. 335-337.
^Abrunculus was Bishop of Langres, who came to Clermont shortly after the death of Sidonius Apollinaris, and was chosen to succeed him. Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum Book II, chapter 23. Duchesne, p. 35, no. 12.
^Bishop Gallus was not present at the Council of Orléans of 533, though he sent a delegate, or at the Council of Orléans of 538, to which he sent his representative. He was present in 535 at the Council of Clermont, presided over by Bishop Honoratus of Bourges; at the Council of Orléans of 541; and at the Council of Orléans of 549. C. De Clercq, Concilia Galliae, A. 511 - A. 695 (Turnholt: Brepols 1963), pp. 110-111; 130; 143; 158. Tardieu, p. 181.
^Cautinus was a 'bad bishop', having been chosen by King Theodebert at Metz and consecrated by his bishops. When he appeared in Clermont, Cautinus was opposed by the priest Cato, who was the choice of the bishops who had come to bury Bishop Gallus. A schism resulted. Both Cautinus and Cato were killed by the plague of 571. Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum Book IV, chapters 7-35. Tardieu, p. 181. Duchesne, p. 36 no. 17.
^Praejectus was elected during the reign of Childeric II (663-675), who approved his election, and died on 25 January 676, massacred at Volvic (13 km north of Clermont) by the followers of Hector, Patrician of Marseille: Duchesne, p. 37-38 no. 25. Gonod (1833), pp. 15-16. Tardieu, pp. 182-183.
^Bonitus had studied law, and became Referendary (judge) for King Sigebert III of Austrasia (ca. 634-ca. 660). He then served as Governor of Marseille for Thierry III, King of Neustria (673-691) and Austrasia (679-691). Bonitus became bishop of Auvergne on the death of his brother Avitus, in an election of questionable canonical validity, though he was confirmed by Pepin of Herstal (679-695). After ten years as bishop he retired to the monastery of Manglieu, later making a pilgrimage to Rome. He died at Lyon, where he had been resident for some four years, ca. 707. Gonod (1833), pp. 16-17. Tardieu, p. 183.
^Bishop Bonitus had designated Nordebertus as his successor, and, at the request of the clergy and people he was confirmed by the King. Gonod (1833), p. 17. Tardieu, p. 183.
^Bishop Stephanus was Bishop of Clermont when the city was taken by siege by Pepin the Short in 761. Gonod (1833), p. 18. Duchesne, p. 38 no. 30.
^Sigo attended the Council of Soissons in August 866. Mansi, Tomus XV (Venice 1770), p. 731. Tardieu, p. 184. Duchesne, p. 39 no. 33.
^Gilbert was the first Bishop of Auvergne to call himself Bishop of Clermont. R. Twigge, "Medieval Service Books of Aquitaine, IV. Clermont-Ferrand," Nicholas Patrick Wiseman, ed. (1897). The Dublin Review. Vo. CXXI. London: Burns and Oates. pp. 355-377, at 356.
^Bishop Robert d'Auvergne was transferred to the diocese of Lyon on 3 April 1227. Bishop Hugo was only a subdeacon and Provost when approved by Pope Gregory IX, and therefore he was named Administrator. Next year he was named Bishop. He died on 28 December 1249. Eubel, I, p. 192 with note 1.
^Pierre André had been Canon of Paris and Bishop of Noyon (1340-1342) before his appointment to Clermont on 25 September 1342. His Vicar-General and official at Clermont was Guillaume de Grimoard, who became Pope Urban V. Bishop Pierre was transferred to the diocese of Cambrai on 17 February 1349. He died on 13 September 1368. Eubel, I, pp. 160, 192, 372.
^Pierre was subsequently Bishop of Uzès (1357-1366). Eubel, I, p. 192 and 511.
^Jean de Mello was previously Bishop of Châlons-sur-Saône (1353-1357). His transfer received papal approval on 8 February 1357. Eubel, I, p. 151, 192.
^Jacques de Comborn was approved by Pope Eugene IV on 10 May 1445. He died on 15 February 1475. Eubel, II, p. 130.
^Allemand had previously been Bishop of Cahors (1465-1475). He was approved as Bishop of Clermont on 8 March 1475. Eubel, II, pp. 123 and 130.
^Bishop Charles de Bourbon died on 22 February 1504/5. Jacques d'Amboise was the brother of Cardinal Georges d'Amboise, Archbishop of Rouen. He was elected by the Chapter of Clermont on 15 March 1505, and his bulls were approved on 23 May 1505. He died on 27 December 1516, and was buried at Cluny, where he had also been the Abbot. Gallia christiana X, pp. 205-206. Eubel, III, p. 169 with note 4.
^Bishop Thomas Duprat, a native of Issoire, was the brother of Antoine Duprat, Chancellor of France. He opened a new university at Issoire in the diocese of Clermont in 1519, but it was forced to close in 1520 because of pressure from the University of Paris and Charles, Duc de Bourbon. M.G. des Devises du Dezert, "L'enseignement secondaire et supérieur à Clermont-Ferrand," Association française pour l'avancement des sciences (1908). Clermont-Ferrand et le Puy-de-Dôme: Congres de l'Association française pour l'avancement des sciences, 1908 (in French). Société anonyme du "Moniteur du Puy-de-Dome" et des imprimeries G. Mont-Louis. p. 287. Duprat died at Modena in 1528, where he had been sent as Ambassador Extraordinary to conduct Renée of France, daughter of Louis XII, to her marriage to the Duke of Ferrara.
^A Doctor of theology (Paris), nephew of Bishop Guillaume Rose and an ardent member of the Catholic League, Rose had been Bishop of Senlis (1601-1610). Rose's bulls were granted on 1 March 1610. He died in January 1614. Gauchat, Hierarchia catholica IV, p. 153 with note 2; 316 with n. 2.
^D' Estaing, the nephew of Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld, was approved by Pope Paul V on 12 January 1615. He died on 11 September 1650. Gallia christiana X, pp. 299-300.
^Bochart was born in Paris and was Bachelor in theology from the local university. He was nominated to the diocese of Clermont by King Louis XIV on 18 May 1687, and preconized (approved) by Pope Innocent XII on 10 March 1792. The delay in his bulls was caused by the excommunication of Louis XIV and his diplomatic rupture with Pope Innocent XI. Bochart was consecrated on 31 August 1692. He died on 11 August 1715. Gonod (1833), pp. 52-53. Ritzler, Hierarchia catholica V, p. 161 with note 3.
^Le Maistre was born in the Château de la Garlaye (Nantes), and was Doctor in theology and Licenciate in Civil and Canon Law (Valence). He was Canon and a Vicar General of Lyon, as well as a royal Aumonier. He was nominated to the diocese of Clermont by King Louis XV on 30 October 1742, and preconized (approved) by Pope Benedict XIV on 28 January 1743. He died on 5 June 1776. Gonod (1833), p. 54. Jean, p. 108. Ritzler, Hierarchia catholica VI, p. 169 with note 2.
^Bonnal was born at the Château de Bonnal in the diocese of Agen, and held a doctorate in theology (Besançon). He was named Abbot Commendatory of Saint-Ambroix (Bourges). He was Archdeacon Major, with a canonry and prebend, in the Church of Châlons-sur-Saône, and was a Vicar-General of the diocese. He was nominated by King Louis XVI on 23 June 1776, and preconized by Pope Pius VI on 16 September 1776. He refused to take the Oath to the Constitution, and emigrated. He was arrested by advancing French armies in Holland in 1795 and imprisoned at Altona. He died in exile in Munich on 3 September 1800 at the age of 66. Gonod (1833), pp. 54-59. Jean, p. 108. Ritzler, p. 169 with note 3.
^Gonod, p. 58-59. In 1802 Périer was named to the diocese of Avignon.
^Du Valk: Abbé Fouilhaux, in: Société bibliographique (France) (1907)., L'épiscopat français..., pp. 197-198.
^Féron: Abbé Fouilhaux, in: Société bibliographique (France) (1907)., L'épiscopat français..., pp. 198-199.