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Archbishop of Paris and ecclesiastical writer, b. at Fayl-Billot, near Langres, 1813; killed by Communists at Paris, 24 May, 1871. Ordained priest in 1836, he served for a time as curate of Notre-Dame at Saint-Dizier and as professor at the Grand Séminaire of Langres, then joined Mgr. Affre at Paris, 1845, where from "prêtre auxiliaire à la maison des carmes" and chaplain of the Lycée Henri-IV, he soon rose to the position of canon of Notre-Dame, vicar-general and archdeacon of Saint-Denis, having previously been made prothonotary Apostolic. In 1859 he was appointed to the See of Nancy. During his three years as incumbent of that see, he took a special interest in educational matters, established the Ecole-Saint-Léopold, enlarged the Grand Séminaire, and wrote (1862) his famous letter, "Sur la nécessité de l'étude". Promoted by an imperial decree of 10 January, 1863, to the Archbishopric of Paris, made vacant by the death of Mgr. Morlot, he consecrated within a year the basilica of Notre-Dame, then completely restored, and was honoured with the titles of Grand Almoner, Senator, and Imperial Councillor. Though lacking the independence of Mgr. Affre, the administrative skill of Mgr. Sibour, and the affability of Cardinal Morlot, Darboy was a learned, conscientious, and respected prelate. With the help of such men as Buquet, Isoard, Langénieux, Meignan, and Foulon, he gave a new impetus to the somewhat remiss administration of his aged predecessor. The Gallicanism of Darboy made him unduly subservient to imperial wishes and caused him to assume against the exemptions of the religious an attitude which Rome (1869) compelled him to abandon. It was his chief motive for siding, during the Vatican Council, with the minority which deemed inopportune the definition of papal infallibility, his reasons being more of a political than of a theological nature. Darboy was one of those who suggested diplomatic intervention as a means of ending difficulties. He left Rome before the final vote of 18 July, 1870, and expressed sentiments which, however, he generously retracted when, several months after the definition, he subscribed to it. During the siege of Paris Darboy showed himself a true pastor and won the admiration of all. Arrested 4 April, 1871, by order of the Commune, and confined to Mazas Prison, the best efforts of his friends failed to save him; he was shot at Roquette, 24 May, and died blessing his executioners. As soon as order could be restored a national funeral was celebrated for him and the other victims of the Commune. The Abbé Perraud delivered his eulogy at Paris, and Père Didon at Nancy. Darboy was the author of the following works: "OEuvres de saint Denys l'Aréopagite, traduites du grec" (Paris, 1845); "Les femmes de la Bible" (Paris, 1846-9); "Les saintes femmes" (Paris, 1850); "Lettres à Combalot" (Paris, 1851); "Jérusalem et la terre sainte" (Paris, 1852); "L'imitation de Jésus-Christ, traduction nouvelle" (Paris, 1852); "Statistique religieuse du diocèse de Paris" (Paris, 1856); "Saint Thomas Becket" (Paris, 1858). He also contributed to the "Correspondant" (1847-1855) and was for a year (1850) director of the "Moniteur Catholique". His pastoral works (2 vols., Paris, 1876) were edited by his biographer, Foulon.
FOULON, Histoire de la vie et des oeuvres de Mgr Darboy (Paris, 1889); JÉROME in L'épiscopat français, 1802-1905 (Paris, 1907), 390; PISANI (ibid., 463) gives an exhaustive bibliography; Darboy et le Saint-Siège, documents inédits in Rev. d'hist. et de lit. relig. (May-June, 1907).