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The medieval diocese of Cambrai was based upon the Roman civitas of the Nervii.
Originally erected in the late 6th century as the Diocese of Cambrai, when the episcopal see after the death of the Frankish bishop Saint Vedast (Vaast) was relocated here from Arras. Though subordinate to the Archdiocese of Reims, Cambrai's jurisdiction was immense and included even Brussels and Antwerp.
For the first bishops of Arras and Cambrai, who resided at the former place, see Arras. On the death of Saint Vedulphus (545-580) the episcopal residence was transferred from Arras to Cambrai. Among his successors were:
The list of notable people associated with the Diocese of Cambrai is very extensive, and their biographies, although short, take up no less than four volumes of the work by Canon Destombes. Exclusive of those saints whose history would be of interest only in connection with the Belgian territory formerly belonging to the diocese, mention may be made of:
The Jesuits Cortyl and du Béron, first apostles of the Pelew Islands, were martyred in 1701, and Chomé (1696-1767), who was prominent in the Missions of Paraguay and Argentina in the province of Misiones, also the OratorianGratry (1805-1872), philosopher and member of the French Academy, were natives of the Diocese of Cambrai. The English college of Douai, founded by William Allen in 1568, gave in subsequent centuries a certain number of apostles and martyrs to Catholic England. Since the promulgation of the law of 1875 on higher education, Lille has been the seat of important Catholic faculties.
A chronicle of the bishops of Cambrai was written in the 11th century. This Gesta episcoporum Cambracensium was for some time attributed to Balderic, archbishop of Noyon, but it now seems that the author was an anonymous canon of Cambrai. The work is of considerable importance for the history of the north of France during the 11th century, and was first published in 1615.
Under the old regime the Archdiocese of Cambrai contained forty-one abbeys, eighteen of which belonged to the Benedictines. Chief among them were:
the Abbey of St. Géry, founded near Cambrai about the year 600 in honour of St. Médard by St. Géry (580-619), deacon of the church of Treves, and who built a chapel on the bank of the Senne, on the site of the future city of Brussels;
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Notre-Dame de Grâce at Cambrai, containing a picture ascribed to St. Luke;
Notre-Dame des Dunes at Dunkerque, where the special object of interest is a statue which, in the beginning of the fifteenth century, was discovered near the castle of Dunkerque;
the feast associated with this, 8 September 1793, coincided with the raising of the siege of this city by the Duke of York;
Notre-Dame des Miracles at Bourbourg, made famous by a miracle wrought in 1383, an account of which was given by the chronicler Froissart, who was an eyewitness. A Benedictine abbey formerly extant here was converted by Marie Antoinette into a house of noble canonesses. Until a comparatively recent date, the great religious solemnities in the diocese often gave rise to ducasses, sumptuous processions in which giants, huge fishes, devils, and representations of heaven and hell figured prominently. Before the law of 1901 was enforced there were in the diocese Augustinians, English Benedictines, Jesuits, Marists, Dominicans, Franciscans, Lazarists, Redemptorists, Camillians, Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul, and Trappists; the last-named still remain. Numerous local congregations of women are engaged in the schools and among the sick, as, for instance: the Augustinian Nuns (founded in the sixth century, mother-house at Cambrai);
the Bernardines of Our Lady of Flines (founded in the thirteenth century);
the Daughters of the Infant Jesus (founded in 1824, mother-house at Lille);
^Eubel, I, p. 160. Guillaume was the son of Jean d'Avenses Comte d' Hainault and Marguerite the sister of Guillaume Count of Holland. He was brother of John II of Avenses, Count of Hainault. Guillaume was appointed by Pope Honorius IV on 9 May 1286. He had previously been Provost of Cambrai. He died in 1296.
^Cardinal Robert of Geneva was unanimously elected Pope on 20 September 1378, under the name of Clement VII.
^Richardot's father, the Seigneur de Barly, was President of the Council of Artois and Councilor of State in Bruxelles. Jean Richardot was ambassador of the Archduke and Archduchess to Pope Clement VIII. Richardot was elected by the specific command of the Archduke and Archduchess to the Chapter of Cambrai. Eubel-Gauchat, IV, p. 131. Gallia christiana III, p. 57. Fisquet, pp. 259-262.
^Eubel-Gauchat, IV, p. 131. Gallia christiana III, pp. 57-58. Fisquet, pp. 262-264.
^Eubel-Gauchat, IV, p. 131. Gallia christiana III, pp. 58-59. Fisquet, pp. 264-271.
^Jean d' Estrées was the nephew of Cardinal César d' Estrées. In 1692 he was sent as ambassador to Spain by Louis XIV, and again in 1703. He was Abbot Commendatory of Saint-Claude, Evron, and Préaux. In 1705 he was named Prelate Commander of all of the royal Orders of chivalry and became a member of the Council on Foreign Affairs. He was a member of the Académie Française, taking the chair of Boilieu. He died on 3 March 1718, without having received his bulls of preconisation and consecration from the Pope. Fisquet, pp. 329-330.
^Nominated by King Louis XV, Tremoille was consecrated in Rome by Pope Clement XI on 30 May 1719 and granted the pallium on 18 September. He died on 10 January 1720. Ritzler, V, p. 139, with note 6. Fisquet, pp. 330-331.