Ancient Diocese of Lavaur

The bishopric of Lavaur (Tarn, France) (in Latin: dioecesis Vaurensis) was founded by Pope John XXII in his plan to reorganize the sprawling diocese of Toulouse. The town is situated some fifteen miles to the east of Toulouse. Lavaur had the reputation of being one of the strongest centers of Catharism, being referred to as sedes Satanae, atque erroris haeretici primatica ('seat of Satan and prime source of heretical error'[1] The diocese consisted of some 80–90 parishes. It hosted one abbey, that of Sorèz,[2] a convent of the Clarisses, a convent of the Daughters of the Cross, a convent of Dominicans, one of Franciscans, one of Capuchins, two of reformed Dominicans, and two houses of the Doctrinaires.[3] The diocese produced some 35,000 livres for the bishop.[4]

The diocese was abolished by the Concordat of 1801.


Huguenot control (purple) and influence (violet), 16th cent.

The diocese had its primitive origins in a donation made in 1098 by three sons of Guillaume Seigneur of the chateau of Lavaur, one of whom was Isarn, the Bishop of Toulouse. They gave to the monks of Saint-Pons the church of Saint-Élan (Alain) in the territory of Toulouse, not far from their chateau, on the left bank of the River Agoût; the church was in need of rebuilding; the mission of the monks was to rebuild the church, around which grew a small town (villa). During the Albigensian Crusade the town, which was politically in the County of Toulouse and subject to the heretic Count Raymond of Toulouse, was besieged.[5] The town was fortified in the 13th century. The monastery church became the Cathedral of Saint-Alain in the fourteenth century, when the diocese was created.[6]

Pope John XXII created the diocese of Lavaur in a bull dated 22 February 1317.[7]

The Cathedral Chapter had twelve Canons,[8] among whom were the dignities of Provost,[9] Archdeacon, Sacristan, and Precentor. The Bishop had a vote in Chapter meetings, though he was not a member of the Chapter. There were also four hebdomidary chaplains and twenty-eight ordinary chaplains.

From 1622, the town of Lavaur became headquarters for the royal operations against Henri, Duke of Rohan. The Count de Vieule was named Governor of Castres and Lavaur, and the César, Duke of Vendôme, the natural brother of Louis XIII, was placed in charge of operations.[10] Under Louis XIV, the King took a more active role in determining the talents of prospective bishops of Lavaur.[11]

In 1671 the city of Lavaur had approximately 3,000 Catholics, and the diocese had approximately 65 parishes.[12] In 1768, there were perhaps 4,000 Catholics, and there were 88 parishes.[13]

The French RevolutionEdit

In 1790 the Constituent Assembly passed a number of anti-Catholic laws, the culmination of which was the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which reduced the number of dioceses in France from 135 to 83, and made these dioceses coterminous with the new civil administrative districts, the 'départements'. The old dioceses were abolished. Clergy were to be provided with salaries, but they were required to take an oath of allegiance to the State. Bishops were to be elected by the electors of each department, rather than appointed by the King and approved by the Pope, as had been provided for in the Concordat of Bologna of 1516 between Francis I and Leo X. An elector need not be a Catholic, which meant that non-Catholics would be taking part in the selection of Catholic bishops. The inevitable result was schism between the French 'Constitutional Church' and the Roman Catholic Church.

The diocese of Lavaur, which was on the schedule of dioceses to be abolished, was subsumed into the new 'diocèse de Tarn', a suffragan of the Metropole du Sud, with its seat at Albi. The electors of Tarn duly met at Castres on 13–15 March 1791, and elected Abbé Jean-Joachim Gausserand as their Constitutional Bishop; it was presumed that Cardinal de Bernis, in refusing to take the oath, had resigned the See of Albi. The Bishop of Lavaur had protested and fled to Spain. Gausserand was consecrated in Paris on 3 April 1791 by the Metropolitan of Rhone-et-Loire (Lyon), Antoine-Adrien Lamourette. The new bishop's reception in Albi was frosty, and in Lavaur it was icy. After the Terror, when religion was reconstituted, Gausserand discovered that he had lost 200 priests through abdication, and that 40 were married; several had left their priestly duties and were functioning as civil administrators. In 1797 he admitted that fewer than 100 priests continued to function in the 'diocese of Tarn'. When the Concordat of 1801 was negotiated between First Consul Bonaparte and Pope Pius VII, Gausserand refused to submit or recant, and, when steps were being taken in 1808 to place him under Interdict, he removed himself to Toulouse. He died on 12 February 1820.[14]

In the implementation of the Concordat of 1801, the diocese of Lavaur was not restored.


1300 to 1500Edit

1500 to 1800Edit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Thomas Salmon (1745). Modern History Or the Present State of All Nations. London: Longman. p. 470.
  2. ^ Gallia christiana XIII, pp. 354-368.
  3. ^ Prêtres de la Doctrine Chrétienne (in Latin: Congregatio Patrum Doctrinae Christianae), founded in Avignon in 1582 by César de Bus.
  4. ^ Robert de Hesseln (1771). Dictionnaire universel de la France, Contenant la Description Geographique et Historique (etc.) (in French). Paris: Desaint. p. 581.
  5. ^ Compayré, pp. 458-459.
  6. ^ Gallia christiana XIII, p. 331. De Vic and Vaissete, p. 448 (added by the later editors).
  7. ^ Gallia christiana XIII, Instrumenta no. ix, pp. 268-271.
  8. ^ Gallia christiana XIII, p. 331. De Vic and Vaissete, p. 438.
  9. ^ Gallia christiana XIII, pp. 352-355.
  10. ^ Compayré, p. 461.
  11. ^ Compayré, p. 470.
  12. ^ Ritzler, V, p. 406, note 1.
  13. ^ Ritzler, VI, p. 433, note 1. A list of the parishes and their personnel is given by Th. Bessery, "L'état des paroisses du diocèse de Lavaur à la fin de l'Ancien Régime," Albia Christiana 9 (1912), pp. 251-273.
  14. ^ Paul Pisani (1907). Répertoire biographique de l'épiscopat constitutionnel (1791-1802) (in French). Paris: A. Picard et fils. pp. 18–26, 403–407.
  15. ^ Bishop Roger was the son of Count Géraud V of Armagnac and Fezensac. He had previously been Archdeacon of Agen and Canon of Paris. He was appointed on 26 October 1317, and was transferred to Laon on 22 May 1338. He died in 1339. De Vic and Vaissete, IV, p. 438. Eubel, I, pp. 296, 518.
  16. ^ Robert was Seigneur de Donazan, the third son of Gaston I, Comte de Foix. De Vic and Vaissete, p. 438. Eubel, I, p. 518.
  17. ^ Archambaud's father was Amalric, Vicomte de Lautrec; his mother was Marguerite de Périgord, sister of Cardinal Élie de Talleyrand-Perigord. Archambaud was transferred to Châlons-sur-Marne on 11 January 1357. Eubel, I, pp. 175 and 518.
  18. ^ The narrative of the election on 11 September 1383 of Sicardus de Brugayrosio by five canons survives; Bertrand of Fréjus received one vote. Neither candidate was acceptable to Clement VII, who quashed the election. Gallia christiana XIII, p. 334, and Instrumenta, no. xii, pp. 273-275. On 8 October the Pope appointed instead Gilles de Bellemère, Doctor in utroque iure (Civil and Canon Law), the former Archdeacon of Angers (Eubel says Avignon), who was serving in the Curia in Avignon as Auditor causarum contradictarum (appellate judge). Eubel, I, p. 518 with n. 4. Bishop Gilles was transferred to Le Puy (Aniciensis) on 17 October 1390: Eubel, I, p. 92; he was transferred to Avignon on 19 August 1392: Eubel, I, p. 124.
  19. ^ Guido de Rupe had previously been Archdeacon of Tours. He was approved on 25 October 1390, according to Eubel, I, p. 518; but according to Gallia christiana XIII, p. 336, he was elected on 13 January 1391. Documents indicate he was still alive in May 1393.
  20. ^ Bernard was transferred in 1397 to the diocese of Agen.
  21. ^ Pierre de Vissac had been Dean of Brivatensis in the diocese of Clermont. Bishop of St.-Flour (1383–1397). Eubel, I, pp. 251 and 518.
  22. ^ Eubel, I, p. 518, states that his bulls were issued on 6 April 1412. His death on 21 September 1433: Gallia christiana XIII, pp. 340-341.
  23. ^ Jean Boucher had been Archdeacon of the Church of Lavaur. He was elected by the Chapter in 1433, and his appointment was approved by Pope Eugene IV on 13 January 1434. He died on 6 September 1458. Gallia christiana XIII, p. 341. Eubel, II, p. 263.
  24. ^ Hector de Bourbon was the natural son of Jean II, Duc de Bourbon. He held the diocese of Lavaur in commendam. He was already Archbishop of Toulouse since 18 February 1491; he died in 1502. Eubel, I, pp. 252 and 263.
  25. ^ Petrus de Roseyo: Eubel, II, p. 263, with note 2.
  26. ^ Eubel, III, p. 327.
  27. ^ Simon de Beausoleil was elected by the Cathedral Chapter on 6 June 1514, with the consent of King François I, over the opposition of Cardinal de'Medici. He held the Licenciate in Canon Law, and was the major Archdeacon of Narbonne and Abbot of Mont-Olive. He resigned the diocese because of advanced age in 1525 (he was over 90). Gallia christiana XIII, pp. 343-344.
  28. ^ Petrus de Buis (Busii) was the son of Antonius, a Councillor in the Parliament of Toulouse. He was a Protonotary Apostolic and Provost of the Church of Toulouse. He died on 30 October 1526. Gallia christiana XIII, p. 344. Eubel, III, p. 327, with note 6.
  29. ^ Georges de Selve was third son of Jean de Selve, First President of the Parlement de Paris. He was tonsured in the diocese of Rouen, and became a Protonotary Apostolic. Georges was not yet eighteen when named Bishop of Lavaur by King Francis I. His predecessor, Pierre de Buxi, was a relative of Georges' mother. Robert J. Kalas (1987). "The Selve Family of Limousin: Members of a New Elite in Early Modern France". The Sixteenth Century Journal. 18 (2): 147–172, at 162-163. JSTOR 2541174. Compayré, p. 467. Georges de Selve was one of the "Ambassadors" of Hans Holbein's famous picture.
  30. ^ Eubel, III, p. 328.
  31. ^ A Parisian, Danès had directed the studies of the young Bishop Georges de Selve. He was a student of Janus Lascaris and Guillaume Budé, and the first professor of Greek at the Collège de France. He was sent by Francis I as one of his ambassadors to the Council of Trent. Danès died on 23 April 1577. Compayré, p. 467. Eubel, III, p. 328.
  32. ^ Pierre Dufaur a priest of Toulouse. He Archdeacon of Toulouse. He served as Vicar-General of Cardinal Georges d'Armagnac. His appointment as Bishop of Lavaur by King Henri III was approved by Pope Gregory XIII on 14 March 1582; he died on 21 November 1582. He was never installed, and never visited the diocese. Gallia christiana XIII, p. 347. Eubel, III, p. 328.
  33. ^ Birague, a native of Milan but a naturalized Frenchman, was Chancellor of France (1573–1583). He had been married, but after his wife's death he entered the Church. It is claimed that his name appears as Bishop in "les manuscrites de Lavaur," but Crozes places Birague in 1577, then stating that he resigned in favor of his nephew. Hippolyte Crozes (1865). Monographie de l'ancienne cathédrale de Saint-Alain de Lavaur (Tarn) ... (in French). Toulouse: A. Chauvin. pp. 50, note 1. Eubel, III does not list René de Birague.
  34. ^ Horace de Birague was nephew of the Chancellor of France. He was approved by the Pope on 21 November 1583. He died on 26 February 1601. Gallia christiana XIII, p. 348. Eubel, III, p.328.
  35. ^ Duvergier was a native of Bourges, a priest of the diocese of Bourges, and Doctor in utroque iure (Civil and Canon Law). He was consecrated in Paris on 6 July 1606 by Bishop Leonard de Trappes, OFM Cap., of Auch. Gallia christiana XIII, p. 348. He died on 25 March 1636. He was responsible for the establishment of the Capuchins in Lavaur in 1617. Gauchat, IV, p. 360, with note 3.
  36. ^ D'Abra: Gauchat, IV, p. 360, with note 4.
  37. ^ De Tulles died on 3 or 4 December 1668: Gauchat, IV, p. 360, with note 5.
  38. ^ Quémadeuc was a Breton, the son of Thomas, Governor of Ploemel. Doctor of theology (Paris, 1664) and cousin of Mme de Sévigné. He became Aumonier to Anne of Austria and Abbot commendatory of St-Jean-des-Près. He was named Bishop of Saint-Malo on 31 October 1670 by King Louis XIV. He was approved by Pope Clement X on 4 May 1671. Guy-Alexis Lobineau (1839). Vies des saints de Bretagne (in French). Paris: Méquignon Junior. pp. 243–245. Ritzler, V, p. 252, with note 2.
  39. ^ Amelot was born in Paris, and was Doctor in Canon Law (Paris, 1651). He was nominated by King Louis XIV on 5 January 1671, and approved by Pope Clement X on 22 June 1671. He was consecrated in Paris by Archbishop François d'Harlay de Chauvallon on 2 August 1671. He was transferred to the diocese of Tours on 11 September 1673. Ritzler, V, p. 406 and note 3.
  40. ^ Le Sauvage was born in Granville, in Lower Normandy, in the diocese of Coutances, the son of a lieutenant in the admiralty courts. He was orphaned, and sent to live in Paris with an uncle who was a priest at Saint-Séverin. He was Master of theology and Socius of the Sorbonne, and Abbot commendatory of the monastery of S. Pierre de Belloloco in the diocese of Limoges. Joseph Bergin (2004). Crown, Church, and Episcopate Under Louis XIV. Yale University Press. pp. 84–85. ISBN 978-0-300-10356-4. Ritzler, V, p. 406, with note 4.
  41. ^ Le Goux did not arrive in Lavaur until 18 October 1678. On 12 October 1693 he became Archbishop of Albi. On 12 November 1703 he became Archbishop of Narbonne. Compayré, p. 470. Ritzler, V, p. 75, 280.
  42. ^ Fléchier was not confirmed by Pope Innocent XI, who was engaged in the struggle with Louis XIV over 'Gallican Rights'. Ritzler, V, p. 406 note 5.
  43. ^ Mailly was the second son of Louis-Charles, Marquis de Nesle. His younger brother François was a Cardinal (1719–1721) and was Archbishop of Arles (1698–1710) and Archbishop of Reims (1710–1721). Victor-Augustin was a Canon Regular and Prior of St.-Victor de Paris. He took part in the Assembly of the Clergy in 1688. His bulls were granted on 13 October 1692, having been delayed since his nomination in 1687 by the diplomatic rupture between Louis XIV and Pope Innocent XI. He was consecrated on 16 November 1692 in Paris. Armand Jean (1891). Les évêques et les archevêques de France depuis 1682 jusqu'à 1801 (in French). Paris: A. Picard. p. 403. Gallia christiana XIII, p. 352.
  44. ^ Ritzler, VI, p. 433 and note 2.
  45. ^ Ritzler, VI, p. 433 and note 3.
  46. ^ Castellane fled his diocese in the Revolution, and was an exile in London. Mémoire des évêques françois résidens à Londres, qui n'ont pas donné leur démission (in French) (second ed.). London: Prosper. 1802. p. 78. Ritzler, VI, p. 433 and note 4.


Reference worksEdit


Coordinates: 43°41′57″N 1°49′17″E / 43.6993°N 1.8213°E / 43.6993; 1.8213