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Archbishop of Besançon

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Besançon is a Latin Rite Roman Catholic ecclesiastical territory in France. It comprises the département of Doubs (except for Montbéliard) and the département of Haute-Saône, except for the canton of Héricourt.

The see is currently sede vacante.

Formerly the archbishop was a prince-bishop within the Holy Roman Empire, although he gradually lost his power to the townspeople becoming a free city. The city was annexed by France in stages, eventually being fully subsumed in 1792 it during the French Revolution.

Early history of the diocese

Local tradition states that the diocese was evangelized by Saints Ferreolus and Ferrutio (Ferréol and Ferjeux),[1] who were sent here by St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "Louis Duchesne proved that these legends belong to a chain of narratives forged in the first half of the 6th century and of which the "passion" of St. Benignus of Dijon was the initial link."[1]

During the Middle Ages several popes visited Besançon, among them pope Leo IX who consecrated the altar of the old Cathedral of St. Etienne in 1050, and Eugenius III, who in 1148 consecrated the church of St. Jean, the new cathedral. A council was held at Besançon in 1162, presided over by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, in the interest of the Antipope Victor IV against Pope Alexander III. Guido of Burgundy who was pope from 1119 to 1123 under the name of Calixtus II, and the Jesuit Claude-Adrien Nonnotte (1711–1793), an adversary of Voltaire, were natives of Besançon.

Abbeys founded from the diocese

The monastery of Luxeuil, founded by St. Columbanus (d. 615), gave to the diocese of Besançon a series of saints. First came the direct successors of St. Columbanus; the Abbot St. Eustasius who founded a celebrated school in this monastery; the Abbot St. Valbert who sent monks to found the Abbeys of St. Valéry, St. Omer, and St. Bertin, and died in 665; the Abbot St. Ingofroid; St. Donatus, who became Bishop of Besançon; and St. Ansegisus, author of a celebrated collection of capitularies.

The Abbey of Lure (in Haute-Saône) was founded at the beginning of the 7th century by St. Déicole (Deicolus), or Desle, disciple of St. Columbanus; later its abbots were princes of the Holy Empire. The Abbey of Beaume les Dames, founded in the 5th century and in which Gontram, King of Burgundy, was buried, was the school where St. Odo, afterwards Abbot of Cluny, studied in the tenth century; at the end of the eighth century there was built near it an abbey for Benedictine nuns, members of the nobility. During the French Revolution, the superb church of this abbey was laid waste. Other saints of the Diocese of Besançon include the hermit St. Aldegrin (10th century).

Later history

St. Peter Fourier (1565–1640), who inaugurated systematic education for girls, was born in the diocese. The miracle attributed to the "Sacred Host of Faverney," during a fire in the year 1608, was annually commemorated by elaborate ceremonies. The places of pilgrimage were Notre Dame du Chêne at Scey; Notre Dame d'Aigremont; the pilgrimage of St. Pierre of Tarentaise at Cirey-les-Bellevaux, where St. Pierre de Tarentaise died in 1174; Notre Dame des Jacobins at Besançon; and Notre Dame de la Motte at Vesoul.

Few 19th-century dioceses have undergone similar territorial changes. The Concordat of 1802 gave the Diocese of Besançon all those districts which, in 1822, constituted the Diocese of St.-Claude. In 1806, Besançon was given jurisdiction over the three parishes of the Principality of Neufchâtel (Switzerland) which fell under the control of the bishopric of Lausanne in 1814. In 1870, after the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine by Germany, the district of Belfort was withdrawn from the bishopric of Strasburg and attached to the dicoese of Besançon.

The metropolitan jurisdiction of Besançon also underwent changes. In 1802 its suffragans were the Bishoprics of Dijon and Autun (in Burgundy), Metz, Nancy and Strasbourg (in Alsace-Lorraine). Under the Bourbon Restoration, Dijon and Autun were withdrawn from Besançon, which became the metropolitan of the sees of Saint-Dié, Verdun and Belley. In 1874, after the Franco-Prussian War, the churches of Metz and Strasburg were exempt, under the direct control of the Holy See.

On 3 November 1979, Belfort, Montbéliard, and the canton of Héricourt (Haute-Saône) were detached from the diocese of Besançon and constituted into a new autonomous diocese, that of Belfort-Montbéliard.[2]


To 1000

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "the catalogue of the earliest bishops of Besançon is to be read with caution."[1]

  • Ferreolus 180?–211?
  • Linus
  • Antidius I. c.267
  • Germanus
  • Maximinus died before 304
  • Paulinus died c.310
  • Eusebius
  • Hilarius
  • Pancratius died c.353
  • Justus c.362
  • Aegnanus died c.374
  • Sylvester I 376–396?
  • Anianus (4th century)
  • Fronimius
  • Desideratus
  • Leontius ?–443
  • Chelidonius c. 445, died 451?, deposed by Hilary of Arles
  • Antidius II
  • Chelmegisl
  • Claudius I c.517
  • Urbicus c.549
  • Tetradius I c.560
  • Sylvester II. c.580
  • Vitalis I
  • St. Rothadius, a monk at Luxeuil and organizer of the monastic life
  • Nicetas died c.611
  • Protadius 614?–624?
  • St. Donatus, a monk at Luxeuil, wrote a rule for canon priests in his diocese, died 660
  • Migetius
  • Ternatius died c.680
  • St. Gervase c.680, died 685)
  • Claudius II, 685, died 693?
  • Felix c.710
  • Tetradius II died 732
  • Albo c.742
  • Wandelbert
  • Evrald
  • Arnoul
  • Hervaeus 757–762
  • Gedeon died 796
  • Bernoin 811–829
  • Amalwin 838–840
  • Arduicus 843–872
  • Theoderic I 872–895
  • Berengar 895–831
  • Aymin c.914
  • Gontier c.931
  • Gottfried I 944–953
  • Guy 958–970
  • Guichard
  • Leutald 993–994


  • Hektor 1002–1015
  • Walter I 1016–1031
  • St. Hugh I of Besançon (Hugh I of Salins) (1031–1067), prince of the Empire, founded markets and schools in Besançon
  • Hugo II de Montfaucon died 1085
  • Hugo III of Burgundy 1085–1101, son of William I, Count of Burgundy, brother of Pope Callixtus II
  • Hugo IV 1102–1107
  • Guillaume I de Arguel 1109?–1117
  • Anseric de Montréal 1117–1134
  • Humbert 1134–1162
  • Walter II 1162–1163
  • Herbert (schismatic) 1163–1170
  • Eberhard de Saint-Quentin 1171–1180
  • Theoderic II. de Montfaucon 1180–1191
  • Etienne de Vienne 1191–1193
  • Amadeus de Tramelay 1197–1220
  • Gerard I. de Rougemont 1221–1225
  • Jean I. Allegrin (John Halgren of Abbeville)[3] 1225–1227
  • Nicolas de Flavigny 1227–1235
  • Gottfried II. 1236–1241
  • Jean II. 1242–1244
  • Guillaume II. de la Tour 1245–1268
  • Odo de Rougemont 1269–1301


  • 1302–1311 : Hugues de Chalon (also prince-bishop of Liège)
  • 1312–1333 : Vital de Maignaut
  • 1333–1355 : Hugues de Vienne
  • 1355–1361 : Jean de Vienne
  • 1361–1362 : Louis de Montbéliard
  • 1363–1370 : Aymon de Villersexel
  • 1371–1391 : Guillaume de Vergy
  • 1391–1404 : Gerard d'Athies
  • 1405–1429 : Thiébaudde Rougemont
  • 1430–1437 : Jean de La Rochetaillée
  • 1437–1438 : François Condomieri
  • 1438–1439 : Jean de Norry
  • 1439–1462 : Quentin Ménard
  • 1462–1498 : Charles de Neufchâtel


  • 1498-1502 : François de Busleyden (on the French-language World Heritage Encyclopedia)
  • 1502–1541 : Antoine I. de Vergy
  • 1542–1544 : Pierre de la Beaume
  • 1544–1584 : Claude III. de la Beaume
  • 1584–1586 : Antoine II. de Perrenot
  • 1586–1636 : Ferdinand de Rye
    • 1636–1637 : Francois III. de Rye (Koadjutor)
  • 1637–1654 : Claude IV. de Achey
  • 1654–1659 : Charles Emanuel de Gorrevot
  • 1659–1662 : Jean Jacques Fauche
  • 1662–1698 : Antoine Pierre I. de Gramont
  • 1698–1717 : Francois-Joseph de Grammont
  • 1717–1721 : René de Mornay
  • 1723–1731 : Honoré de Grimaldi
  • 1733–1734 : Antoine-Francois de Bliterswijk-Montcley
  • 1735–1754 : Antoine Pierre II. de Grammont
  • 1754–1774 : Antoine Clairiard de Choiseul de Beaupré
  • 1774–1792 : Raymond de Durfort
  • 1791–1793 : Philippe-Charles-François Seguin
    • 1791–1801 : Flavigny
    • 1798–1801 : Demandre

From 1800

  • Claude Le Coz (1802–1815), former constitutional bishop who opposed the Concordat
  • Gabriel Cortois de Pressigny 1817–1823
  • Paul-Ambroise Frère de Villefrancon 1823–1828
  • Cardinal de Rohan-Chabot (1828–1833)
  • Louis-Guillaume-Valentin Dubourg, P.S.S. 3 Feb 1833 to 12 Dec 1833
  • Cardinal Mathieu (1834–1875), who defended episcopal temporal power, and was a member of the "Opposition" at the First Vatican Council. He opposed strenuously in his diocese the "simultaneous churches" which sprang up throughout the district of Montbéliard where there were many Protestants.
  • Pierre-Antoine-Justin Paulinier 1875–1881
  • Joseph-Alfred Foulon (26 May 1887 — 23 Jan 1893)
  • Marie-Joseph-Jean-Baptiste-André-Clément-Fulbert Petit 1894–1909
  • François-Léon Gauthey (20 Jan 1910 – 25 Jul 1918)
  • Louis Humbrecht (14 Sep 1918 – 28 Jun 1927)
  • Charles Binet (31 Oct 1927 – 15 Jul 1936)
  • Maurice-Louis Dubourg (9 Dec 1936 – 31 Jan 1954)
  • Marcel-Marie-Henri-Paul Dubois (10 Jun 1954 – 2 Jul 1966)
  • Marc-Armand Lallier (26 Aug 1966 – 6 Mar 1980)
  • Lucien Daloz (12 Dec 1980 – 13 Aug 2003)
  • André Jean René Lacrampe (13 Aug 2003 – 25 Apr 2013)


Sources and external links

  • Catholic Encyclopedia article
  • Website of the archdiocese
  • Catholic hierarchy

Coordinates: 47°14′01″N 6°01′50″E / 47.23361°N 6.03056°E / 47.23361; 6.03056

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