Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Diocese of Séez
Diocese embracing the Department of Orne. Re-established by the Concordat of 1802, which, by adding to it some parishes of the dioceses of Bayeux, Lisieux, Le Mans, and Chartres, and by cutting off some districts formerly included in it, made it exactly coextensive with the department. It is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Rouen. Mgr. Duchesne is of opinion that for the period anterior to 900 no reliance can be placed on the episcopal catalogue of Séez, which we know by certain compilations of the sixth century. This catalogue mentions Sigisbald and Saint Latuinus (Lain or Latuin) as the first two bishops of the sec. Saint Landry, martyr, would be the third. Some historians say that Sigisbald had lived about 451, and Landry about 480; others, relying on a later tradition, assign Saint Latuinus to the first century and make him a missionary sent by Saint Clement. The first bishop of Séez historically known, according to Mgr. Duchesne, is Passivus, who assisted at four councils after the year 533. As bishops of Séez the following merit mention: St. Raverennus (date uncertain), whom Mgr. Duchesne does not include in the episcopal list; St. Aunobertus (about 689); assassinated, whose double episcopacy Mgr. Duchesne assigns to the close of the seventh or the beginning of the eighth century; St. Adalhelmus (Adelin), author of a work on the life and miracles of St. Opportuna; Gervaise (1220-28), a Premonstratensian, who had the confidence of Celestin III, Innocent III, and Honorius III; Jean Bertaut (1607-11), who, with his fellow-student and friends, Du Perron, contributed greatly to the conversion of Henry IV, and who was esteemed for his poetical talents; for the occupation of the See of Séez in 1813 by Guillaume Baston (1741-1825), see BASTON, GUILLAUME-ANDRÉ-RENÉ.
St. Evroul, a native of the Diocese of Bayeux, founded, after 560, several monasteries in the Diocese of Séez; one of them became the important Abbey of St-Martin-de-Séez, which, owing to the influence of Richelieu, its administrator-general, was reformed in 1636 by the Benedictines of St-Maur. Rotrou II, Count of Perche, in fulfillment of a vow, established in 1122, at Soligny, the Abbey of La Trappe, in favour of which Bulls were issued by Eugene III (1147), Alexander III (1173), and Innocent III (1203), and which was reformed in 1662 by Abbot Amand Jean le Bouthillier de Rancé (q.v.). During the Revolution the Trappists went with Dom Augustin de Lestranges, 26 April, 1791, into Switzerland, where they founded the convent of La Val Saint, but returned to Soligny soon after the accession of Louis XVII. Among the abbots of the Trappists monastery at Soligny were: Cardinal Jean du Bellay, who held a number of bishoprics and resigned his abbatial dignity in 1538; the historian Dom Gervaise, superior of the abbey from 1696-8. On the occasion of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew (1572) Matignon, leader of the Catholics, succeeded in saving the lives of the Protestants at Alençon. The cathedral of Séez dates from the twelfth century; that of Alençon was begun in the fourteenth. The following saints are the object of special devotion: SS. Ravennus and Rasyphus, martyred in the diocese about the beginning of the third century; St. Céronne (d. about 490), who founded two monasteries of nuns near Mortagne; St. Cenerius, of Céneri (d. about 669), born at Spoleto, founder of the monastery of St. Cenerius; St. Opportuna, sister of St. Chrodegang, and her aunt, St. Lanthilda, abbesses of the two monasteries of Almenèches (end of the seventh or beginning of the eighth century); St. Evremond (d. about 720), founder of the monasteries of Fontenay les Louvets and Montmevrey; St. Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury (d. 1099), who as Comte de Séez, had followed William the Conqueror into England.
The chief pilgrimages in the diocese are: Notre-Dame de Champs at Séez, Notre-Dame du Vallet, Notre-Dame du Repos, near Almenèches, three very ancient shrines; Notre-Dame de Lignerolles, a pilgrimage of the seventh century; Notre-Dame de Recouvrance, at Les Tourailles, dating beyond 900; Notre-Dame de Longny, established in the sixteenth century; Notre-Dame du Lignon, a pilgrimage of the seventeenth century. In 1884 Mgr. Buguet, curé of Montligeon chapel, founded an expiatory society for the abandoned souls in Purgatory, since erected by Leo XIII into a Prima Primaria archconfraternity, which publishes six bulletins in different languages and has members in every part of the world. Notre Dame de la Chapelle Montligeon is also a place of pilgrimage. The Grande Trappe of Soligny still exists in the Diocese of Séez, which before the application of the law of 1901 against religious congregations had different teaching congregations of brothers, in addition to the Redemptorists. Among the congregations of nuns originating in the diocese may be mentioned: the Sisters of Providence, a teaching and nursing institute founded in 1683 with mother-house at Séez; the Sisters of Christian Education, established in 1817 by Abbé Lafosse, mother-house at Argentan, and a branch of the order at Farnborough in England; the Sisters of Mercy, founded in 1818 by Abbé Bazin to nurse the sick in their own homes. At the close of the nineteenth century the religious congregations had in the diocese: 2 infant asylums, 24 infant schools, 3 workshops, 1 school for the blind, 1 for the deaf and dumb, 4 boys' orphanages, 11 girls' orphanages, 2 refugees, 16 hospitals, 16 convents of nuns devoted to the care of the sick at home, and 1 insane asylum. At the time of the destruction of the Concordat (1905) the diocese contained 326,952 inhabitants, 45 cures, 467 succursal churches, 135 vicariates towards the support of which the State contributed.
Gallia Christiana (nova), XI (1759), 674-711, instr. 151-200; DUCHESNE, Fastes épiscopaux, II, 229-34; FISQUET, France pontificale, diocèse de Séez (Paris, 1866); HOMMEY, Histoire Générale ecclésiastique et civile du diocèse de Séez (Alençon, 1899-1900); MARAIS AND BEAUDOUIN, Essai historique sur la cathédrale et le chapître de Séez (Alençon, 1878); BLIN, Vie des saints du diocè de Séez et histoire de leur culte, I (Laigle, 1873).