According to a tradition connected with the legend of St. Martial, this saint, deputed by St. Peter, came to Cahors in the first century and there dedicated a church to St. Stephen, while his disciple, St. Amadour (Amator), the Zaccheus of the Gospel and husband of St. Veronica, evangelized the diocese. In the seventeenth century these traditions were closely examined by the Abbé Antoine Raymond de Fouillac, a friend of Fénelon, and, according to him, the bones discovered at Rocamadour in 1166, and looked upon as the relics of Zaccheus, were in reality the bones of St. Amator, Bishop of Auxerre.
A legend written about the year 1000 by the monks of Saint-Genou Abbey (in the Diocese of Bourges) relates that Genitus and his son Genulfus were sent to Gaul by Pope Sixtus II (257-59), and that Genulfus (Genou) was the first Bishop of Cahors. But Louis Duchesne repudiated this as legend.
The first historically known Bishop of Cahors is St. Florentius, correspondent of Paulinus of Nola (ca. 354–431). The Diocese of Cahors counted among its bishops:
Hugues Géraud (1312–16), implicated in the conspiracy against John XXII and sentenced to be burned alive;
Alain de Solminihac (1636–59), one of the most active reformers of the clergy in the seventeenth century
The Cathedral of Saint-Étienne de Cahors was served by a Chapter composed of fourteen individuals. The Bishop was considered a member of the Chapter, as were the Archdeacons of Cahors and Tournus; in addition there was a Precentor and a Treasurer, as well as nine other Canons. In addition there were four hebdomadarii, fourteen prebendaries, and twelve chaplains. In 1251, Bishop Bartholomaeus secularized the Chapter, and in 1253 issued new Statutes for them.
The diocese was divided into districts, each headed by an Archpriest. It is attested that by 1526 there were fourteen Archpriests, though a number of them are far older, being mentioned already in the 12th century. Six archpriests are named in the 13th century. The archpriests were supervised by the Archdeacons, of which there were six by 1252: Montpezat, Tournès, Figeac, Cahors, Saint-Céré, and Vaux. In 1418, however, Bishop Guillaume (VI.) d'Arpajon decided to suppress superfluous offices and reduced the number of archdeacons to two: Cahors and Tournès; these two continued to exist down to the Revolution.
City of Cahors
Location of Cahors
The city of Cahors was visited by Pope Callistus II (1119–24) in 1119, where, on 26 August 1119 he dedicated the high altar of the Cathedral. It was also the birthplace of Jacques d'Euse (1244–1334), who became pope in 1316 under the title of John XXII. The tower of his palace is still to be seen in Cahors. He provided a charter for a university there, dated 7 June 1331, its law faculty being so celebrated as to boast at times of 1200 pupils. There were three colleges at Cahors: Pélegry (1358), Rodez (1371), and San Michel (1473). Fénelon studied at this institution, which, in 1751, was dissolved as a separate institution and annexed to the University of Toulouse. In the sixteenth century the Diocese of Cahors was severely tried by religious wars, and the Collège de Pélegry, which provided for a certain number of university students without cost, became noted for the way in which these young men defended Cahors against the Huguenots. The War of the Spanish Succession in its turn took a heavy toll on the good order of the university. In 1707 King Louis XIV found it necessary to reform the Collège de Pélegry and provide it with new statutes.
In 1680 the town of Cahors is reckoned as having some 12,000 inhabitants. By 1766 the population is estimated to have grown to 15,000 persons.
The Cathedral of Saint-Étienne, built at the end of the eleventh and restored in the fourteenth century, has a beautiful Gothic cloister. Recent archival and archaeological discoveries have demonstrated, however, that the westwork of the cathedral, once thought to be of the 14th century, was actually completed by 1288. Plans were already under way by the mid-1240s, when Pope Innocent IV granted indulgences to those who contributed financially to the project; these were renewed by Pope Alexander IV in 1255, and yet another grant was made in 1289 by Nicholas III. The great builders were Bishop Bartholomeus de Roux and Bishop Raimond de Cornil. In 1285 Bishop Raimond persuaded the Chapter to join with him in a commitment to donate half of the first year of income of every newly granted benefice in the diocese to the building fund. When, in the Middle Ages, the bishops officiated in this church they had the privilege, as barons and counts of Cahors, of depositing their sword and armour on the altar. In the diocese local honors are given to St. Sacerdos, Bishop of Limoges, and his mother, Mundana (seventh century); Esperie (Speria), virgin and martyr (eighth century); St. Géraud, Count of Aurillac (beginning of the eleventh century); Blessed Christopher, companion of St. Francis of Assisi and founder of a Franciscan convent at Cahors in 1216, and Blessed Jean-Gabriel Perboyre, born in the village of Mongesty, 1802, and martyred in China, 1840.
The city of Figeac owed its origin to a Benedictine abbey founded by Pepin in 755. The principal places of pilgrimage are: Notre-Dame de Rocamadour, visited by St. Louis (1245), Charles the Fair (1324), and Louis XI (1463); Notre-Dame de Félines and Notre-Dame de Verdale, both dating back to the eleventh century; Saint-Hilaire Lalbenque, where relics of St. Benedict Joseph Labre are preserved.
During the French Revolution the Diocese of Cahors was abolished and its territory subsumed into a new diocese, coterminous with the new 'Departement de Lot' and a suffragan of the 'Metropole du Sud' in the departement of Haute-Garonne, with its seat at Toulouse. 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, who were not even required to be Catholics. This placed them in schism with the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope. The electors of the Diocese of Lot duly met, but found no obvious candidate in the department of Lot; they therefore chose an outsider, Abbé Jean-Louis Gouttes as their new Constitutional Bishop. He has also been chosen by the electors of Seine-et Loire, which he preferred. The electors of Lot then, on 27 February 1791, elected Jean d'Anglars, the Archpriest of Cajarc. He was consecrated at Tulle on 29 April by Jean-Jacques Brival.
The legitimate Bishop Louis Maria de Nicolai died in 1791, leaving the diocese vacant. On 11 November 1791 Pope Pius VI appointed Charles-Nicolas de Bécave to be the Vicar-Apostolic of the Diocese of Cahors in the absence of a bishop; he served until the appointment of a new bishop in 1802. Both the Constitutional Church and the Roman Catholic Church were severely stressed in 1793 and 1794 by the Terror, and the discovery that Reason was to replace Faith as the governing principle in France.
In 1801 First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte ordered all the Constitutional Bishops to resign. He was striking a Concordat with Pope Pius VII, which included the liquidation of the Constitutional Church. In accordance with the Concordat, the Pope revived the Diocese of Cahors and placed it in the hands of Guillaume-Balthasar Cousin de Grainville of Montpellier. D'Anglars was made an honorary Canon of the Cathedral of Cahors.
^Nothing is known about D'Anglars activities during the terror except that he saved the relics of the Cathedral. Pisani, p. 395.
^Genulfus is a ninth century concoction of hagiographers: Gallia christiana I, p. 117. La Croix-Ayma (1879), I, pp. 59-76. Duchesne, pp. 126-128 (invraisemblable).
^Sebatsus appears neither in La Croix-Ayma, nor in Gallia christiana nor in Duchesne.
^Florentius: Gallia christiana I, p. 119. La Croix-Ayma (1879), I, pp. 87-93. Duchesne, p. 44, no. 1.
^Alithius: Gallia christiana I, p. 119. La Croix-Ayma (1879), I, pp. 94-100. Duchesne, p. 44, no. 2.
^Anatolius appears neither in Gallia christiana nor in Duchesne. Duchesne notes, however, at p. 44 note 6, that Anatolius was the idea of Victor de Buck, writing in the Acta Sanctorum Octobris Tomus IX, p. 311.
^Boethius was present at the Council of Agde in 506, and at the Council of Orléans in 511: C. Munier, Concilia Galliae, A. 314 – A. 506 (Turnholt: Brepols 1963), p. 213; C. De Clercq, Concilia Galliae, A. 511 – A. 695 (Turnholt: Brepols 1963), p. 13. Gallia christiana I, p. 119. Duchesne, p. 44-45, no. 3.
^Sustratius attended the Council of Orleans in 533, and was represented at the Councils of 538 and 541. Gallia christiana I, p. 119. Duchesne, p. 45, no. 4.
^Maximus was present at the Council of Orléans in 549: De Clercq, p. 159. Duchesne, p. 44, no. 5.
^Maurilio is commemorated by Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum V. 42. Gallia christiana I, p. 119. Duchesne, p. 44, no. 6.
^Ursicinus was present at the Council of Macon in 585. De Clercq, p. 249. Duchesne, p. 45, no. 7.
^Eusebius was present at the Council of Paris in 614: De Clercq, p. 281. Duchesne, p. 45, no. 8.
^Rusticus was elected at the same time that Dagobert I became king, i.e. 623. He participated in the Council of Clichy (Clippiacense) in 627: De Clercq, p. 297. He was assassinated in the 8th year of his episcopacy. Duchesne, p. 46, no. 9.
^Didier was the brother of Bishop Rusticus, and his successor. He was consecrated on 8 April 630, and died on 15 November 655. Duchesne, p. 46, no. 10. Jean Durliat, "Les attributions civiles des évêques mérovingiens: l'exemple de Didier, évêque de Cahors (630–655)," Annales du Midi 91 (1979) 237-254.
^Beto was present at the Council of Bordeaux (Modogarnonense) in ca. 662–675. De Clercq, p. 313. Duchesne, p. 46, no. 11.
^Guillaume: Gallia christiana I, p. 124. Gams, p. 525.
^Frotarius: Gallia christiana I, p. 125. Gams, p. 525.
^The certificate of Gausbert's election in 990 survives. Gallia christiana I, p. 125; Instrumenta, pp. 28-29. Gams, p. 525.
^Gerard (Geraldus) was present at the Council of Toulouse in 1068. J.-D. Mansi (ed.), Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, editio novissima XIX (Venice: A. Zatta 1774), p. 1066. Gallia christiana I, p. 127-128. Gams, p. 525.
^Ponce had been Sacristan in the Chapter of the Cathedral of Cahors. His brother was Bartholomeus, Archdeacon of Cahors. Du Tems, p. 221.
^Gerard had been Archpriest of Salviac. He was already noted for his work against the Albigensian heretics. He was elected by a compromise committee in the presence of the Papal Legate, the Archbishop of Vienne, and the election was promptly agreed to unanimously by the Canons; he declined the election, but on 13 February 1237 Pope Gregory IX ordered the Archbishop of Bourges to confirm the election and consecrate Gérard. Gallia christiana I, Instrumenta p. 31, no.ix. Du Tems, p. 221. Eubel, I, p. 178.
^Roux was confirmed by Pope Innocent IV on 28 July 1250. Du Tems, pp. 221-222. Eubel, I, p. 178.
^Rainaldus had been Archdeacon of Cahors. Du Tems, p. 222.
^Lutzech received papal approval on 20 December 1501. Du Tems, p. 225. Eubel, III, p. 160.
^Ganay was brother of the Chancellor of France. He was Canon of Bourges and Dean of the Cathedral of Beauvais. The Chapter of Cahors elected Guy de Castelnau the Bishop of Périgueux, and there was contention over occupation of the see, but King Louis XII recommended Ganay to Pope Julius II and the Pope followed the King's recommendation. Du Tems, pp. 225-226.
^Caretto, a Ligurian, was the brother of Alphonse, Marquis de Final, and of Fabrice, Grand Master of Rhodes. He was created a cardinal by Pope Julius II, a fellow Ligurian, on 1 December 1505. He was named Bishop of Cahors on 3 July (or 29 April) 1514; he was never installed in his diocese of Cahors. He died in Rome on 15 August 1514. Gallia christiana I, p. 147. Du Tems, p. 226. Eubel, III, p. 11 and 160.
^Louis de Caretto was the brother of the Cardinal. He was appointed Bishop of Cahors on 12 August 1514, three days before the death of his brother. He resigned on 15 July 1524. Gallia christiana I, p. 147. Eubel, III, p. 160.
^Eubel, III, p. 160, with note 4. Paul was only fifteen years old when appointed; the diocese continued to be administered by Bishop Louis de Caretto for the next four years. Gallia christiana I, p. 148.
^Eubel, III, p. 160. Farnese resigned on the appointment of Pierre Bertrand on 7 May 1557.
^Pierre de Bertrand was the brother of Cardinal Jean de Bertrand, Archbishop of Sens. He was Juris Doctor. He was Abbot of Grandselve, and Archdeacon and Vicar-General of Cahors. He was captured by the Huguenots in 1562, but rescued. He died in Rome on 3 September 1563. Gallia christiana, I, pp. 148-149. Du Tems, p. 226.
^Popian was a native of Béziers, where he had been Canon Precentor. He was consecrated in Béziers on 10 December 1601. He reconsecrated the Cathedral of Cahors, which had been desecrated by Huguenots. He brought the Jesuits (Collège de Saint-Michel), the Capuchins, and the Récollets to Cahors. Du Tems, p. 227.
^Halbert was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Cahors and titular Bishop of Sidon on 2 May 1622. He succeeded to the diocese of Cahors in 1627, and died in February 1636. Gauchat, IV, p. 142.
^Sevin was Bishop of Sarlat (1648–1659). He was nominated Coadjutor-Bishop of Cahors on 19 May 1656 by Louis XIV, and approved by Pope Alexander VII on 24 September 1657. He retained the diocese of Sarlat until the Spring of 1659; he succeeded to Cahors on 31 December 1659. Gauchat, IV, p. 142, with note 5; p. 305.
^Noailles was born in the diocese of Saint-Flour, and was a Master of theology (Paris). He had been Prior of Aubrac (Saint-Flour). On 24 February 1679 he was nominated to Cahors by King Louis XIV, and was approved (preconized) by Pope Innocent XIon 8 May 1679. He was transferred to the diocese of Châlons on 17 March 1681. He was later Archbishop of Paris. Ritzler, V, p. 151, with note 3.
^Le Jay was born in Paris, and held the degree of Doctor of theology (Paris). He was nominated Bishop of Cahors by Louis XIV on 6 September 1680, and was granted his bulls of consecration and institution by Innocent XI on 28 April 1681. He died on 22 April 1693. Du Tems, pp. 228-229. Jean, p. 5. Ritzler, V, p. 151, with note 4.
^Luzerne was born at Isigniac in the diocese of Bayeux, and studied in Paris, where he obtained a Doctorate in theology. He was nominated to the diocese of Cahors on 31 May 1693 by Louis XIV, and approved by Pope Innocent XII on 28 September 1693. He died on 16 June 1741. Du Tems, p. 229. Ritzler, V, p. 151, with note 5.
^Du Guesclin: Du Tems, p. 229. Ritzler, VI, p. 156, with note 2.
^Cheylus: Jean, pp. 6-7. Du Tems, p. 229. Ritzler, VI, p. 157, with note 3.
^De Nicolai was born in the diocese of Montpellier, the son of Joseph-Louis, Baron de Sabran. He held the Licenciate in utroque iure (Civil and Canon Law). King Louis XVI nominated him to be Bishop of Cahors on 17 November 1776, and his appointment was approved by Pope Pius VI on 17 February 1777. He was a deputy to the Estates-General in 1789, but died in Toulouse in 1791 before the innovations could take effect. Jean, p. 7. Ritzler, VI, p. 157, with note 4.
^Bardou had been a priest of the diocese of Albi and curate of the parish of Saint-Amans la Bastide, as well as Honorary Canon of Albi. He was a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. He died on 30 January 1863. Melanges Religieux, Recueil Periodique (in French). Tome IV. Montreal. 1842. p. 250.
^Grimardias was born at Maringues, near Clermont-Ferrand, in 1819. He studied with the Jesuits, and completed his religious studies at the Grand Seminaire of Clermont. He was Vicar of the parish of the Cathedral of Clermont, and in 1845 became Secretary of the Bishop, though in 1847 he returned to the Cathedral as curate of the Cathedral Parish. In 1862 he was named honorary Vicar-General. He was named Bishop of Cahors by the government on 30 December 1865, and preconized (approved) by Pope Pius IX on 17 June 1866. He was consecrated on 6 August 1866. Victor Frond (1870). Actes et histoire du concile oecuménique de Rome MDCCCLXIX, 1er du Vatican, 1689 (in French). Paris: Pilon. pp. 36–37.
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