Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Diocese of Saint-Flour
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Diocese comprising the Department of Cantal, and is suffragan of the Archbishopric of Bourges. Re-established by the Concordat of 1802, by which the Department of Haute-Loire was brought into this diocese, this department was detached from it in 1823 by the reestablishment of the See of Le Puy. The traditions relative to St. Florus (Flour), who is said to have been the first Bishop of Lodève and to have died at Indiciat (later Saint-Flour) while evangelizing Haute-Auvergne, have been the subject of numerous discussions. In two documents concerning the foundation of the second monastery of St-Flour, drawn up in 1013 and 1031, and in a letter written to Urban IV in 1261 by Pierre de Saint-Haon, prior of Saint-Flour, St. Flour is already considered as belonging to the Apostolic times, and the "Speculum sanctorale" of Bernard Gui in 1329 relates at length the legend of this "disciple of Christ". M. Marcellin Boudet believes it more likely that St. Flour lived in the fifth century, and that it was he who attended the Council of Arles in 450 or 451.
At the close of the tenth century there was already a monastery at Indiciat. A local seigneur, Astorg de Brezons, surnamed "the Red Bull", gave this monastery to Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, and the donation was confirmed by Gregory V (996-99). Amblard de Brezons, his nephew, surnamed "le Mal Hiverné", seized the monastery and destroyed all of it except the church. Amblard and Astorg, from 1010 to 1013, gave this church and its fief to St. Peter's at Rome, together with the monastery of Sauxillages, governed by Odilo; but later Amblard considered this donation as void, and constructed a fortress, a remnant of which is now the sacristy of the cathedral, upon the site of the old monastery; afterwards Amblard, seized with remorse at Rome, between 1025 and 1031 gave back to Odilo all he possessed, and a large monastery was again founded. Urban II, after the Council of Clermont (1095), consecrated the church of this new monastery. The church collapsed in 1396, and no remains of it exist. Pope Callistus II passed some time there. In August, 1317, John XXII detached Haute-Auvergne from the see of Clermont and raised St-Flour to the rank of a bishopric, the first ordinary of which was his chaplain Raymond de Montuéjols. Among his successors were Pierre d'Estaing (1361-67), afterwards Archbishop of Bourges and cardinal in 1370; Louis-Siffrein-Joseph de Salamon (1820-29), former counseiller-clerc to the Parliament of Paris, who during the Revolution had secretly acted in France as the pope's agent, a rôle concerning which he has left very important memoirs.
The Abbey of Aurillac was celebrated: it was founded by St. Géraud, Count of Aurillac, who in 898 brought thither monks from Vabres; it soon became well known, according to John of Salisbury, as a centre of literacy and scientific studies: Gerbert (later Sylvester II), and Guillaume d'Auvergne, friend and confidant of Saint Louis, studied there. St. Odo, Abbot of Cluny, from 926 to 943, was at first a monk at Saint-Pierre de Mauriae, and, according to some, Abbot of Aurillac. St. Peter Chavanon, founder in 1062 of the monastery of Pébrac, in the Diocese of Le Puy, was for some time superior of the Abbey of Chazes, near Vic. The tragic poet de Belloy (1727-95), author of the celebrated tragedy on the Siege of Calais, was born at Saint-Flour. Louis-Antoine de Noailles (1651-1729), Archbishop of Paris, was born at Laroquebrou in the diocese. Abbé Jean Chappe d'Auteroche (1722-69), astronomer, who in 1769 went to California to observe the transit of Venus and died there of a contagious disease, was a native of Mauriae. Abbé de Pradt (1759-1837) was born at Allanche. The Diocese of Saint-Flour is remarkable among the French dioceses for the great number of its sanctuaries and pilgrimages dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. There are sixty-five, of which the following are the more important: Notre-Dame de Claviers, at Moussages, the statue of which is the most ancient in the diocese; Notre-Dame des Miracles, at Mauriac, sixth century; o Notre-Dame de Frodière, at Saint-Flour, eleventh century; Notre-Dame de' Laurie, at Laurie, an eleventh-century sanctuary; Notre-Dame de Bon Secours at Marmanhac; Notre-Dame de Quezac, which is visited annually by between 20,000 and 30,000 pilgrims; Notre-Dam de Vau Claire, at Molompise - these three dating-back to the twelfth century; Notre-Dame de Valentines at Ségur, belong to the thirteenth century; Notre-Dame de Turlande at Paulhenc, Notre-Dame de Villedieu, both dating to the fourteenth century; Notre-Dame de Pitié at Chaudesaigues; Notre-Dame de Puy Rachat, at Nieudan; Notre-Dame des Oliviers, at Marat, all three dating back to the fifteenth century; Notre-Dame d'Aubespyre, at Aubespeyre; Notre-Dame dela font Sainte, at St. Hippolyte, visited annually by between 10,000 and 12,000 pilgrims; Notre-Dame de Pailherols; Notre Dame aux Neiges, at Aurillac, all four dating back to the sixteenth century; Notre-Dame de Guérison, at Enchanet; Notre-Dame de Lescure, both dating back to the eighteenth century.
The "Revue catholique des églises" published in 1905, an interesting monograph of the diocese; it shows that 50 percent of the men go to Mass each Sunday, 25 per cent go every second Sunday, and 70 per cent fulfill their Easter duty. An interesting work is the "Œuvre des bergers", which assembles several hundred shepherds from the neighbouring regions each year at Pailherols and La Font Sainte for a day's religious exercises, the only one which they can have during the five months that they pass alone in the mountains. Before the application of the law of 1901 on the associations, there were in the Diocese of Saint-Flour Lazarists and various teaching orders of brothers. Some congregations of nuns have their mother-houses in the diocese, in particular: the Soeurs de Saint Joseph, with their mother-house at Saint-Flour; the Petites Soeurs des Malades, with their mother-house at Mauriac; the Soeurs de l'Enfant Jesus, dites de l'instruction; and the Soeurs de la Sainte Famille, with their mother-house at Aurillac. At the close of the nineteenth century the religious congregations directed in the diocese, 1 crèche, 12 refuge halls, 1 school for the deaf and dumb, 1 boys' orphanage, 6 girls' orphanages, 1 home for honest poor girls, 1 hospice for incurables, 1 asylum for the insane, 1 dispensary, 1 house of retreat, I house of nuns devoted to nursing the sick in their own homes, 13 hospitals or hospices. At the time of the destruction of the concordat (1905) the Diocese of Saint-Flour contained 230,511 inhabitants, 24 parishes, 288 succursal churches, and 190 vicariates towards the support of which the State contributed.
Gallia Christiana nova (1720), 419-437. and instr., 127-162: BOUDET, La lgene de St. Florus d'après les textes les plus anciens; additions aux nouveax Bollandistes in Annales du Midi (1895); IDEM, La Légende de St. Florus et ses fables (Clermont,1897); CHAUMEIL, Biographie des personnes remarquables de la Haute Auvergne, précédé d'un essai sur l'histoire religieuse de cette demi-province, (Saint-Flour, 1867); FROMENT, Esquisse historique sur le monastère et la ville de St-Flour in Revue d'Auvergne (1885); CHABAU, Pèlerinages et sanctuaires de la Sainite vierge dans le diocèse de St-Flour, (Paris, 1889); ROUCHY, Le diocèse de St. Flour in Revue catholique des èglises (1905).