The Roman Catholic Diocese of Nîmes (Latin: Dioecesis Nemausensis; French: Diocèse de Nîmes) is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. The diocese comprises all of the department of Gard. It is suffragan of the Diocese of Avignon.
By the Concordat of 1801 its territory was united with the Diocese of Avignon. It was re-established as a separate diocese in 1821 and a Brief of 27 April 1877, grants to its bishops the right to add Alais (the modern Alès) and Uzès to their episcopal style, these two dioceses being now combined with that of Nîmes. Therefore, correctly it is the Diocese of Nîmes (–Uzès and Alès) (Latin: Dioecesis Nemausensis (–Uticensis et Alesiensis); French: Diocèse de Nîmes (–Uzès et Alès)).
Nîmes (Latin: Nemausus) was an important city in Roman antiquity. The Pont du Gard is not far away.
Late and rather contradictory traditions attribute the foundation of the Church of Nîmes either to Celidonius, the man "who was blind from his birth" of the Gospel, or to St. Honestus, the apostle of Navarre, said to have been sent to southern France by St. Peter, with St. Saturninus (Sernin), the apostle of Toulouse. The true apostle of Nîmes was St. Baudilus, whose martyrdom is placed by some at the end of the 3rd century, and by others at the end of the fourth. Many writers affirm that a certain St. Felix, martyred by the Vandals about 407, was Bishop of Nîmes, but Louis Duchesne questions this.
There was a see at Nîmes as early as 396, for in that year a synodical letter was sent by a Council of Nîmes to the bishops of Gaul.
The first bishop whose date is positively known is Sedatus, present at the Council of Agde in 506.
Other noteworthy bishops are:
St. John (about 511, before 526);
St. Remessarius (633–640);
Bertrand of Languissel (1280–1324), faithful to Boniface VIII, and for that reason driven from his see for a year by Philip the Fair;
Cardinal Guillaume d'Estouteville (1441–1449);
Cardinal Guillaume Briçonnet (1496–1514);
the famous pulpit orator Fléchier (1687–1710);
the distinguished polemist Plantier (1855–1875) whose pastoral letter (1873) called forth a protest from Bismarck;
the preacher Besson (1875–1888).
Urban II, coming to France to preach the crusade, consecrated the Cathedral of Nîmes in 1096 and presided over a council. Pope Alexander III visited Nîmes in 1162. Clement IV (1265–1268), born at Saint Gilles, in this diocese, granted the monastery of that town numerous favors.
St. Louis, who embarked at Aigues-Mortes for his two crusades, surrounded Nîmes with walls. In 1305, Clement V passed through the city on his way to Lyon to be crowned. In consequence of disputes about the sale of grapes to the papal household, Innocent VI laid an interdict on Nîmes in 1358.
The diocese was greatly disturbed by the Wars of Religion: on 29 Sept., 1567, five years before the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, the Protestants of Nîmes carried out the massacre of Catholics known in French history as the Michelade. Louis XIII of France at Nîmes issued the decree of religious pacification known as the Peace of Nîmes.
1000 to 1300
1300 to 1500
1821–1837 Claude III. Petit Benoit de Chaffoy
1838–1855 Jean-François-Marie Cart
1855–1875 Claude-Henri Plantier
1875–1888 François-Nicolas Besson
1889–1896 Jean-Louis Antoine Alfred Gilly
1896–1921 Félix-Auguste Béguinot
1921–1924 Marcellin, Charles Marty
1924–1963 Jean Justin Girbeau
1963–1977 Pierre-Marie Rougé
1978–1999 Jean Cadilhac
2001–present Robert Wattebled
Pilgrimages and saints
The chief pilgrimages of the present Diocese of Nîmes are: Notre Dame de Grâce, Rochefort, dating from Charlemagne, and commemorating a victory over Muslim forces. Louis XIV and his mother, Anne of Austria, established here a foundation for perpetual Masses.
Notre Dame de Grâce, Laval, in the vicinity of Alais, dating from not later than 900.
Notre Dame de Bon Secours de Prime Combe, Fontanès, since 887.
Notre Dame de Bonheur, founded 1045 on the mountain of l'Aigoual in the vicinity of Valleraugues.
Notre Dame de Belvezet, a shrine of the 11th century, on Mont Andavu.
Notre Dame de Vauvert, whither the converted Albigenses were sent, often visited by St. Louis, Clement V, and Francis I.
The shrine of St. Vérédème, a hermit who died Archbishop of Avignon, and of the martyr St. Baudilus, at Trois Fontaines and at Valsainte near Nîmes.
The following Saints are especially venerated in the present Diocese of Nîmes: St. Castor, Bishop of Apt (4th to 5th century), a native of Nîmes; the priest St. Theodoritus, martyr, patron saint of the town of Uzès; the Athenian St. Giles (AEgidius, seventh cent.), living as a recluse near Uzès when he was accidentally wounded by King Childeric, later abbot of the monastery built by Childeric in reparation for this accident, venerated also in England; Blessed Peter of Luxemburg who made a sojourn in the diocese, at Villeneuve-lès-Avignon (1369–87); Ste. Artimidora, whose relic are in Aimargues church.
Catholic Church in France
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De Vic, Cl.; Vaissete, J. (1876). Histoire generale de Languedoc (in French). Tome IV. Toulouse: Edouard Privat.
Duchesne, Louis (1907). Fastes épiscopaux de l'ancienne Gaule: I. Provinces du Sud-Est. Paris: Fontemoing. pp. 274–277. second edition (in French)
Société bibliographique (France) (1907). L'épiscopat français depuis le Concordat jusqu'à la Séparation (1802-1905). Paris: Librairie des Saints-Pères.
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(in French) Diocese of NÎmes: Diocesan history
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Diocese of Nîmes". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.