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Diocese of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
(DIOCESE OF MAURAMANENSIS)
Includes the arrondissement of Saint Jean-de-Maurienne in the Department of Haute Savoie. The diocese was suppressed by the Concordat of 1802, and its territory joined to the Diocese of Chambéry under the French Empire, then in 1825 under Piedmontese rule it was cut off from Chambéry and made a special diocese, which with the rest of Savoy became French territory, 14 June, 1860. It is suffragan of Chambéry. Gregory of Tours, in his "De Gloria Martyrum" , relates how the church of Maurienne, belonging then to the Diocese of Turin, became a place of pilgrimage, after the holy woman Thigris or Thecla, who was a native of Valloires, had brought to it from the East a finger of St. John the Baptist. Saint Gontran, King of Burgundy, took from the Lombards in 574 the valleys of Suse and Maurienne, and in 576 founded near the shrine a bishopric, which was suffragan of Vienne. Its first bishop was Felmasius. In 599 Gregory the Great made futile attempts to make Queen Brunehaut listen to the protests of the Bishop of Turin against this foundation. A letter written by John VIII in 878 formally designated the Bishop of Maurienne as suffragan of Tarentaise, but the metropolitans of Vienna continued to claim Maurienne as a suffragan see, and under Callistus II (1120) they carried their point. Local tradition claims as bishops of Maurienne: St. Emilianus, martyred by the Saracens (736 or 738); St. Odilard, slain by the Saracens (916) together with St. Benedict, Archbishop of Embrun. After the Saracens had been driven out, the temporal sovereignty of the Bishop of Maurienne appears to have been very extensive, but there is no proof that such sovereignty had been recognized since Gontran's time. At the death of Rudolph III, Bishop Thibaut was powerful enough to join a league against Conrad II of Franconia. The emperor suppressed the See of Maurienne, and gave over its title and possessions to the Bishop of Turin (1038); but this imperial decree was never executed.
Among the bishops of Maurienne were: St. Ayroldus (1132-46), once a monk of the Charterhouse of Portes; Louis de La Palud (1441-50), who as Bishop of Lausanne had taken an active part at the Council of Basle in favour of the antipope, Felix V, who named him Bishop of Maurienne in 1441; and afterwards cardinal; he was confirmed in both appointments by Nicholas V in 1449; John of Segovia (1451-72), who at the Council of Basle as representative of the King of Aragon had also worked for Felix V, and was appointed by him cardinal in 1441; ten years later Nicholas V gave him the See of Maurienne; he is the author of "Gesta Concilii Basileensis"; William d'Estouteville (1473-80) was made cardinal in 1439 and as a pluralist held among other titles those of Maurienne and Rouen; Louis de Gorrevod (1499-1550) was made cardinal in 1530; Hippolyte d'Este (1560), made cardinal in 1538, acted as legate of Pius IV to the Council of Poissy, and built the famous Villa d'Este at Tivoli; Charles Joseph Fillipa de Martiniana (1757-79), made cardinal in 1778, was the first to whom Bonaparte, after the battle of Marengo, confided his intention of concluding a concordat with Rome; Alexis Billiet (1825-40), made cardinal in 1861. Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, took solemn possession of a canonry in the cathedral of Maurienne in 1564.
Among the saints specially honoured in, or connected with, the diocese are: Saint Aper (Avre), a priest who founded a refuge for pilgrims and the poor in the Village of St. Avre (seventh century); Blessed Thomas, b. at Maurienne, d. in 720, famous for rebuilding the Abbey of Farfa, of which the third abbot, Lucerius, was also a native of Maurienne; St. Marinus, monk of Chandor, martyred by the Saracens (eighth century); St. Landry, pastor of Lanslevillard (eleventh century), drowned in the Arc during one of his apostolic journeys; St. Bénézet, or Benoit de Pont (1165-84), b. at Hermillon in the diocese, and founder of the guild of Fratres Pontifices of Avignon; Blessed Cabert or Gabert, disciple of St. Dominic, who preached the Gospel for twenty years in the vicinity of AiguebelIe (thirteenth century). The chief shrines of the diocese are: Notre Dame de Charmaise, near Modane, Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle, near St-Jean-de-Maurienne, which dates from the sixteenth century, and Notre Dame de Beaurevers at Montaimon, dating from the seventeenth century. The Sisters of St. Joseph, a nursing and teaching order, with mother-house at St-Jean-de-Maurienne, are a branch of the Congregation of St. Joseph at Puy. At the end of the nineteenth century, they were in charge of 8 day nurseries and 2 hospitals. In Algeria, the East Indies, and the Argentine they have houses controlled by the motherhouse at Maurienne. In 1905 (end of the Concordat), the Diocese of St-Jean-de-Maurienne had 61,466 inhabitants, 10 parishes, 76 auxiliary parishes, and 28 curacies, remunerated by the State.
Gallia christ., nova, XVI (1865), 611-52, and instr. 289-322; DUCHESNE, Fastes épiscopaux, I, 207-10, 233-35; ANGLEY, Hist. du diocese de Maurienne (S. Jean de Maurienne, 1846); TRUCHET, Hist. hagiologique du diocése de Maurienne (Chambéry, 1867); DE MARESCHAL DE LUCIANE, Souveraineté temporelle des évêques de Maurienne au moyen age in Mémoires de l'académie des sciences de la Savoie (1892); PASCALEIN, Le pouvoir temporal des évêques de Maurienne in Revue Savoisienne (1899); CHEVALIER, Topo-bibl., 1877-78.