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François-Marie-Benjamin Richard de la Vergne
Archbishop of Paris, born at Nantes, 1 March, 1819; died in Paris, 28 January, 1908.
Educated at the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice he became in 1849 secretary to Bishop Jacquemet at Nantes, then, from 1850 to 1869, vicar-general. In 1871 he became Bishop of Belley where he began the process for the beatification of the Curé d'Ars. On 7 May, 1875, he became coadjutor of Cardinal Guibert, Archbishop of Paris, whom he succeeded 8 July, 1886, becoming cardinal with the title of Santa Maria in Via, 24 May, 1889. He devoted much energy to the completion of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre, which he consecrated. Politically, Cardinal Richard was attached by ties of esteem and sympathy to the Monarchist Catholics. In 1892, when Leo XIII recommended the rallying of Catholics to the Republic (see FRANCE, The Third Republic and the Church in France), the cardinal created the "Union of Christian France" (Union de la France Chrétienne), to unite all Catholics on the sole basis of the defence of religion. The Monarchists opposed this "rallying" (Ralliement) with the policy which this union represented, and at last, at the pope's desire, the union was dissolved. On many occasions Cardinal Richard spoke in defence of the religious congregations, and Leo XIII addressed to him a letter (27 December, 1900) on the religious who were menaced by the then projected Law of Associations. In the domain of hagiography he earned distinction by his "Vie de la bienheureuse Françoise d'Amboise" (1865) and "Saints de l'église de Bretagne" (1872).
L'episcopat français, 1802-1905, s. v. Belley, Paris; LECANUET, L'Eglise de France sous la troisieme republique, II (Paris, 1910).