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Diocese of Angers
Comprises the territory embraced in the department of Maine and Loire. It was a suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Tours under the old regime as well as under the Concordat. The first Bishop known in history is Defensor, who, when present in 372, at the election of the Bishop of Tours, made a determined stand against the nomination of St. Martin. The legend concerning the earlier episcopate of a certain Auxilius, is connected with the cycle of legends that centre about St. Firmim of Amiens and is contradicted by Angevin tradition anterior to the thirteenth century. Among the illustrious names of the Diocese of Angers during the first centuries of its existence are those of St. Maurilius, disciple of St. Martin, and at an earlier period hermit of Chalonnes, who made a vigorous stand against idolatry, and died in 427; Thalassius, consecrated bishop in 453, who has left a brief but valuable compendium of canon law, consisting of the decisions of the councils of the province of Tours; St. Albinus (sixth century); St. Licinius, former Count of Anjou, and bishop during the early part of the seventh century. As for the tradition that St. Renatus, who had been raised from the dead by St. Maurilius, was Bishop of Angers for some time shortly before 450, it bases its claims to credibility on a late life of St. Maurilius written in 905 by the deacon Archinald, and circulated under the name of Gregory of Tours, and it seems to have no real foundation. Among the Bishops of Angers in modern times were Cardinal de la Balue (1467) confined by Louis XI in an iron cage (1469-80) for his negotiations with Charles the Bold; the Jansenist, Henri Arnauld (1649-93); Monsignor Freppel (1870-91), who had a seat in the Chamber of Deputies, and warmly defended religious interests; Monsignor Mathieu (1893-96), now cardinal of the Curia and member of the French Academy.
The cathedral of St. Maurice, a majestic structure without side aisles, dates from the twelfth century and exhibits the characteristic type of Angevin or Plantagenet architecture. During the Middle Ages Angers was a flourishing monastic city with six great monasteries: St. Aubin founded by King Childebert I; St. Serge by Clovis II; St. Julien, St. Nicholas and Ronceray, founded by Count Foulques Nerra, and All Saints, an admirable structure of the twelfth century. In 1219 Pope Callixtus II went in person to Angers to assist at the second consecration of the church attached to the abbey of Ronceray. The Diocese of Angers includes Fontevrault, an abbey founded at the close of the eleventh century by Robert d'Arbrissel but which did not survive the Revolution. The cloister and the old abbey church containing the tombs of the four Plantagenets have great archaeological value. The ruins of St. Maur perpetuate the memory of the great Benedictine abbey of that name. In 1244, a university was founded at Angers for the teaching of canon and civil law. In 1432 faculties of theology, medicine and art were added. This university was divided into six "nations," and survived up to the time of the Revolution. In consequence of the law of 1875 giving liberty in the matter of higher education, Angers again became the seat of a Catholic university. The Congregation of the Good Shepherd (Bon Pasteur), which has houses in all parts of the world, has its mother-house at Angers by virtue of a papal brief of 1835. Berengarius, the heresiarch condemned for his doctrines on the Holy Eucharist, was Archdeacon of Angers about 1039, and for some time found a protector in the person of Eusebius Bruno, Bishop of Angers. Bernier, who played a great role in the wars of La Vendée and in the negotiations that led to the Concordat, was cure of St. Laud in Angers. At the close of 1905 the Diocese of Angers comprised 514,658 inhabitants, 37 cures or parishes of the first-class, 377 parishes of the second-class and 129 vicariates with salaries formerly paid by the State.
Gallia christiana (Vetus, 1656), II, 110-154; TRESVAUX, Histoire de l'eglise et du diocese d'Angers (Paris, 1858).