Roman Catholic Diocese of Arras

Country France
Ecclesiastical province Lille
Metropolitan Archdiocese of Lille
Area 6,678 km2 (2,578 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2012)
1,138,000 (76.4%)
Parishes 94
Churches 832
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established 499
Cathedral Cathedral of Our Lady and St Vedast in Arras
Patron saint Saint Vedast
Secular priests 230 (diocesan)
43 (religious Orders)
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Jean-Paul Jaeger
Metropolitan Archbishop Laurent Ulrich
Website of the Diocese

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Arras is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church, in France. The episcopal see is the Arras Cathedral, in the city of Arras. The diocese encompasses all of the Department of Pas-de-Calais, in the Region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais. The current bishop is Jean-Paul Jaeger, appointed in 1998.

The most significant jurisdictional changes all occurred during the Napoleonic wars. From 1802 to 1841, the diocese was suffragan of the Archdiocese of Paris, shifting away from the Archdiocese of Cambrai, after Napoleon dissolved the massive Archdiocese. After the defeat of Napoleon, the Napoleonic Concordat united the diocese of Arras, diocese of Saint-Omer and diocese of Boulogne together in one much larger diocese. Unlike most of the other dioceses immediately restored, it was not until 1841 that the diocese returned as a suffragan to the Archdiocese of Cambrai.


A person named Martin is said to have evangelized Artois and Arras, capital of the Celtic Atrebates by 350AD; however, these early Christian communities did not survive the barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire in the fifth century.[1]

At the beginning of the sixth century Remigius, Archbishop of Reims, placed in the See of Arras St. Vedastus (St. Vaast) (d. c. 540),[1][2] who had been the teacher of the Merovingian king Clovis I after the victory of Tolbiac. His successors, Dominicus and Vedulphus, are also both venerated as saints. After the death of Vedulphus, the See of Arras was transferred to Cambrai, and it was not until 1093 that Arras again became a diocese. At the time of the reform of the bishoprics of the Netherlands in 1559, the diocese had 422 parishes. Its metropolitan was changed from Reims to Cambrai by Pope Paul IV.[3]

Before the French Revolution the Cathedral Chapter consisted of the Provost,[4] the Dean, the Archdeacon of Arras (Artois),[5] the Archdeacon of Ostrevant,[6] the Treasurer, the Penitentiary, 40 canons and 52 chaplains. There were some 400 parishes and 12 rural deans.

King Philip II of Spain and Pope Pius IV founded the University of Douai in 1562 as a weapon in the Counterreformation and the French Wars of Religion.[7] The Jesuits had a college at Douai, founded in 1599, and suppressed in 1762.[8]

During the French revolution the diocese of Arras was abolished and subsumed into a new diocese, the 'Pas de Calais', coterminous with the new 'Departement of the Pas-de-Calais', and a suffragan of the 'Metropole des Côtes de la Manche'. The clergy were required to swear and oath to the Constitution, and under the terms of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy a new bishop was to be elected by all the voters of the departement. This placed them in schism with the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope. On 27 March 1791 the electors chose, on the fourth ballot, the curé of Saint-Nicolas-sur-les-Fossés at Arras, Pierre-Joseph Porion.[9] In September 1801 First Consul Bonaparte abolished the Constitutional Church and signed a Concordat with Pope Pius VII which restored the Roman Catholic Church in France.[10] The diocese of Arras was restored.[11]

Among the bishops of Arras were Cardinal Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle, Councillor of the emperor Charles V, Bishop of Arras from 1545 to 1562, later Archbishop of Mechelen and Viceroy of Naples; François Richardot, a celebrated preacher, Bishop of Arras from 1562 to 1575; and Monseigneur Parisis (d. 1866), who figured prominently in the political assemblies of 1848.

The current ratio of Catholics to priests is 4,168.5 to 1.


1095 to 1300

  • Lambert 1095-1115
  • Robert I 1115-1131
  • Alvise 1131-1148
  • Godescalc 1150-1161
  • André de Paris 1161-1173
  • Robert II 1173-1174
  • Fremold 1174-1183
  • Pierre I 1184-1203
  • Raoul de Neuville 1203-1221
  • Pontius (Ponce)[12] 1221 - 2 September 1231
  • Asso (Asson) 1231 - 27 March 1245[13]
  • Fursaeus (Fursy) 1245 - 1 April 1247
  • Jacques de Dinant 1248-1259
  • Pierre de Noyon 1259-1280
  • Guillaume d'Isy 1282-1293
  • Jean Lemoine 1293-1294
  • Gérard Pigalotti 1296-1316

1300 to 1500

1500 to 1800

  • Nicolas Le Ruistre 1501-1509
  • François de Melun 15 July 1510 - 26 November 1516 (translated to Therouanne)[23]
  • Philippe de Luxembourg 1516-1518
  • Cardinal Pietro Accolti, Administrator[24] 10 March 1518-8 December 1523
  • Eustache de Croy 1524-1538
  • Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle[25] 1538 - 10 March 1561[26]
  • François Richardot[27] 1561-1574
  • Mathieu Moulart[28] 1575 - 11 July 1601[29]
  • Jean du Ploich[30] 1601-1602
  • Jean Richardot 1602-1610
  • Hermann van Ortemberg 1611-1626
  • Paul Boudot 1626-1635
  • Nicolas Duffif 1635-1651
  • Jean Le Camus 1651-1652
  • Étienne Moreau 1656-1670
  • Guy de Sève de Rochechouart 1670-1724
  • François Baglion de La Salle 1725-1752
  • Jean de Bonneguise 1752-1769
  • Louis François Marc Hilaire de Conzié[31] 1769-1790
    • Pierre-Joseph Porion.[32]
    • Mathieu Asselin[33]

From 1800

Bishop Jean-Paul Jaeger


  1. 1 2 Diocèse d'Arras, Histoire du diocèse d'Arras. (French) Retrieved: 2016-09-02.
  2. For a recent revision of the legend of St. Remy and St. Vaast, see: Adriaan Verhulst (1999). The Rise of Cities in North-West Europe. Cambridge University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-521-46909-8. Kéry, pp. 211-225.
  3. 12 May 1559: Gallia christiana III, pp. 318-321. Bullarum diplomatum et privilegiorum sanctorum romanorum pontificum Taurinensis editio: Ab Hadriano VI (an.MDXXII) ad Paulum IV (an.MDLIX) (in Latin). Tomus VI. Turin. 1860. pp. 559–565.
  4. The Provost was always appointed by the King, but 'elected' by the Chapter. Deramecourt, I, p. 15.
  5. Deramecourt, I, pp. 50-70.
  6. Deramecourt, I, pp. 71-75.
  7. Georges Cardon (1892). "Chaptre III: La fondation de l'Université". La fondation de l'Université de Douai (in French). Paris: F. Alcan.
  8. Gallia christiana III, pp. 318-319. Jean, p. 176. Thomas M McCoog S J (2013). The Society of Jesus in Ireland, Scotland, and England, 1589–1597: Building the Faith of Saint Peter upon the King of Spain's Monarchy. Farnham Surrey UK: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 123–130; 228–238. ISBN 978-1-4094-8282-6.
  9. Pisani, pp. 189-190.
  10. Deramecourt, IV, pp. 282-301.
  11. Deramecourt, IV. pp. 302-309.
  12. Pontius had been Archdeacon of Arras: Gallia christiana III, pp. 330-331.
  13. Gallia christiana III, p. 331.
  14. Eubel, I, pp. 115-116; 489. Ghini was named a cardinal by Pope Clement VI on 20 September 1342. He died on 2 June 1343: Eubel, I, p. 18.
  15. Jean Mandevilain had been a Chaplain of King Charles IV, Canon of Saint-Quentin, Dean of Nevers, and Bishop of Nevers. Du Tems, IV, pp. 134-135.
  16. Eubel, I, p. 175.
  17. Eubel, I, p. 351. There was another Adhémar Robert, a nephew of Pope Clement VI, whom he made a cardinal in 1342 and who died in 1352.
  18. Eubel, I, p. 116. Masuyer was Doctor legum, and had been Archdeacon of Anvers and Canon Theological of Cambrai: Debray p. 42.
  19. Jean Canard was Chancellor of the Duchy of Burgundy from 1385-1404. Pierre Cockshaw (1982). Le personnel de la chancellerie de Bourgogne-Flandre sous les ducs de Bourgogne de la Maison de Valois: 1384-1477 (in French). Kortrijk-Heule, Belg.: UGA. p. 20.
  20. Eubel, I, p. 116. Debray, pp. 42-43.
  21. Eubel, I, p. 116. Debray, p. 43.
  22. Provost of St.Omer, Royal Councilor: Debray, p. 33.
  23. Eubel, III, pp. 122 and 250.
  24. Eubel, III, pp. 12, 55, 63, 57, 58, 107, 122, 200, 234. Accolti had also been Treasurer of Cambrai. He participated in the Conclave of 27 December 1521–9 January 1522; and in the Conclave of 1 October–18 November 1523. He resigned the See of Arras when appointed Cardinal Bishop of Albano on 8 December 1523. He died in Rome on 12 December 1532. Lorenzo Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa (Rome: Pagliarini 1793) III, pp. 350-352
  25. Rodriguez-Salgado, M. J. (2000). "King, Bishop, Pawn? Philip II and Granvelle in the 1550s and 1560s". Les Granvelle et les anciens Pays-Bas (ed. K. de Jonge & G. Jannsens). Leuven: 105–134.
  26. The new archdiocese of Mechlin was created on 12 May 1559. Granvelle's appointment was confirmed in Consistory by Pope Pius IV on 10 May 1561. Eubel, III, p. 239.
  27. Léon Duflot (1898). Un Orateur du XVIe siècle. François Richardot, évêque d'Arras (in French). Arras: Sueur-Charruey.
  28. Pierre Debout (1900). Vie de Mathieu Moullart: évêque d'Arras (in French). Arras: Sueur-Charruey.
  29. Eubel, III, p. 122, note 8.
  30. Jean du Ploich had been Archdeacon and Vicar-General of St. Omer, when he was appointed Bishop of Arras by Archduke Albert, who was in Bruxelles for the Estates-General. His bulls were issued by the Pope on 10 September 1601: Gauchat, p. 99. He was consecrated at St. Omer by Bishop Jacques Blaise on 6 January 1602, and died on 1 July, at the age of 47. P. Fanien (1868). Histoire du chapitre d'Arras (in French). Arras: Rousseau-Leroy. pp. 342; 354–355.
  31. Conzié had previously been Bishop of Saint-Brieuc. With the Revolution, Conzié became an exile in England. He was an intimate of the Comte d'Artois. He became Almoner to the Prince de Condé and accompanied him in his travels. With the Concordat of 1802, Pius VII demanded the resignation of all French bishops. Conzié refused, and died in exile, in London, on 16 December 1804. Deramecourt, IV, pp. 216-230. Réclamations canoniques et très-respectueuses, adressées à notre trés-Saint-Père Pie VII, par la providence divine, souverain pontife, contre divers actes relatifs à l'Eglise gallicane (in French). Bruxelles. 1804. p. 78.
  32. Porion was consecrated in Paris by Constitutional Bishop Jean-Baptiste Massieu on 10 April 1791, assisted by Constitutional Bishops Delcher and Sibille. In 1793 he blessed the marriage of a curate, and travelled to Calais to perform the marriage of another. During the Terror, he abdicated and married. He died on 20 March 1830. Pisani, pp. 189-190, and 456. Deramecourt, IV, pp. 165-177.
  33. Asselin was Constitutional curé of Saint-Sépulcre at Arras. He was consecrated at Notre-Dame de Paris on 1 October 1797, by Constitutional Bishops Jean-Baptiste Gratien (of Seine-Inférieure, his Metropolitan), Desbois and Bécherel. He resigned in 1801, and was reinstated as curé of Saint-Sépulcre. He died on 8 January 1825 at the age of 89. Pisani, 190-193, and 457. Deramecourt, IV, pp. 183-214.
  34. François-Joseph Robitaille (1866). Vie de Monseigneur P.-L. Parisis, évêque d'Arras et de Saint-Omer (in French). Arras: E. Bradier.
  35. Paul Hoguet (1919). Mgr Alfred Williez: evêque d'Arras, Boulogne et Saint-Omer (in French). Arras: La Presse Populaire.
  36. Edward Montier (1971). Monseigneur Julien, évêque d'Arras (in French). Paris: Beauchesne.


Reference works



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Arras". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. 

Coordinates: 49°53′41″N 2°18′04″E / 49.8947°N 2.30104°E / 49.8947; 2.30104

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