Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cambrai

Cambrai Cathedral

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cambrai (Latin: Archdiocesis Cameracensis) is an archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church in France, comprising the arrondissements of Avesnes-sur-Helpe, Cambrai, Douai, and Valenciennes within the département of Nord, in the region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais. The current archbishop is François Charles Garnier, appointed in December 2000. Since 2002 the archdiocese has been a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Lille, reversing the prior arrangement.



Originally erected in the late 6th century as the Diocese of Cambrai, when the episcopal see after the death of the Frankish bishop Saint Vedast (Vaast) was relocated here from Arras. Though subordinate to the Archdiocese of Reims, Cambrai's jurisdiction was immense and included even Brussels and Antwerp.

In the early Middle Ages the Diocese of Cambrai was included in that part of Lotharingia which at first had been allocated to the West Frankish king Charles the Bald by the 870 Treaty of Meerssen but, after various vicissitudes, passed under the rule of the German king Henry the Fowler in 925. After the revolt by Duke Gilbert of Lorraine collapsed at the 939 Battle of Andernach, King Louis IV of France renounced the Lotharingian lands and in 941 Henry's son and successor King Otto I of Germany ratified all the privileges that had been accorded the Bishop of Cambrai by the Frankish rulers.

In 1007, the Bishops gained an immediate secular territory, when Emperor Henry II the Saint invested them with authority over the former County of Cambrésis; the Bishop of Cambrai was thus the overlord of the twelve "peers of Cambresis". The Prince-Bishopric of Cambrai became an Imperial State, located between the County of Hainaut and the border with Flanders and Vermandois in the Kingdom of France, while the citizens of Cambrai struggled to gain the autonomous status of an Imperial city. In the 14th and 15th century, the bishopric temporarily was a protectorate of the Burgundian dukes, which, with the heritage of Mary the Rich, passed to her husband Maximilian I of Habsburg in 1482.

Cambrai from 1512 was part of the Imperial Lower Rhenish–Westphalian Circle and – like the Prince-Bishopric of Liège – not incorporated into the Seventeen Provinces of the Burgundian Circle. Neverteheless the creation in 1559 of the new metropolitan See of Mechlin and of eleven other dioceses in the Southern Netherlands was at the request of King Philip II of Spain in order to facilitate the struggle against the Reformation. The change greatly restricted the limits of the Diocese of Cambrai which, when thus dismembered, was made by way of compensation an archiepiscopal see with the dioceses of St. Omer, Tournai and Namur as suffragans. The councils of Leptines, at which Saint Boniface played an important role, were held in what was then the Belgian part of the former Diocese of Cambrai.

Under King Louis XIV the Bishopric of Cambrai finally became French according to the 1678/79 Treaties of Nijmegen, from 1790 part of the Nord department. By the Napoleonic Concordat of 1801, Cambrai was again reduced to a simple bishopric, suffragan to Paris, and included remnants of the former dioceses of Tournai, Ypres, and St. Omer. In 1817 both the pope and the king were eager for the erection of a see at Lille, but Bishop Louis de Belmas (1757–1841), a former constitutional bishop, vigorously opposed it. Immediately upon his death, in 1841, Cambrai once more became an archbishopric with the diocese of Arras as suffragan.

Notable Bishops

Fénelon was bishop of Cambrai from 1695 to 1715.

For the first bishops of Arras and Cambrai, who resided at the former place, see Arras. On the death of Saint Vedulphus (545-580) the episcopal residence was transferred from Arras to Cambrai. Among his successors were:

  • Saint Gaugericus (580-619)
  • Saint Berthoaldus (about 625)
  • Saint Aubert (d. 667)
  • Saint Vindicianus (667-693), who brought King Theuderic III of the Franks to account for the murder of Saint Léger of Autun
  • Saint Hadulfus (d. 728)
  • Alberic and Hildoard, contemporaries of Charlemagne, who gave to the diocese a sacramentary and important canons
  • Halitgar (Halitgarius, Halitgaire) (817-831), an ecclesiastical writer and apostle of the Danes
  • Saint John of Cambrai (866-879)
  • Saint Rothadus (879-886)
  • Wiboldus (965-966), author of the ludus secularis which "furnished amusement to clerkly persons"
  • Gerard of Florennes (1013–1051), formerly chaplain to Saint Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor, and helpful to the latter in his negotiations with Robert the Pious, King of France (Gerard also converted by persuasion the Gondulphian heretics, who denied the Eucharist)
  • Saint Lietbertus (1057–1076), who defended Cambrai against Robert the Frisian
  • Blessed Odo of Cambrai (1105–1113), celebrated as a professor and director of the school of Tournai, also as a writer and founder of the monastery of St. Martin near Tournai
  • Burchard of Cambrai (1115–1131), who sent Saint Norbert and the Premonstratensians to Antwerp to combat the heresy of Tanquelin's disciples concerning the Blessed Eucharist
  • Guiard of Laon (1238–1248)[1]
  • Robert II of Geneva (1368–1371), antipope in 1378 under the name of Clement VII
  • Jan IV T'serclaes (1378–1389), during whose episcopate John the Fearless, son of the Duke of Burgundy, married Margaret of Bavaria at Cambrai (1385)
  • Pierre d'Ailly (1396–1411)
  • John of Burgundy illegitimate son of Duke John the Fearless of Burgundy (1439–1479)
  • William de Croy, cardinal in 1517, apostolic administrator of Toledo in 1517 (1516–1519)

Notable Archbishops

Notable people

The list of the saints of the Diocese of Cambrai is very extensive, and their biographies, although short, take up no less than four volumes of the work by Canon Destombes. Exclusive of those saints whose history would be of interest only in connection with the Belgian territory formerly belonging to the diocese, mention may be made of:

  • Saint Eubertus, an itinerant bishop, martyred at Lille (third century);
  • Saint Chrysole, martyr, patron of Comines, and Saint Piat, martyr, patron of Tournai and Seclin (end of third century);
  • Saint Pherailde, patron of Bruay near Valenciennes (eighth century);
  • the Irish missionaries Fursy, Caidac, Fricor, and Ultan (seventh and eighth centuries);
  • Saint Winnoc, abbot of Bergues (end of seventh century);
  • Blessed Evermore, disciple of Saint Norbert and Bishop of Ratzburg in Germany (twelfth century);
  • Blessed Charles le Bon, Count of Flanders, son of King Canute IV of Denmark and assassinated at Bruges in 1127;
  • Blessed Beatrice of Lens, a recluse (thirteenth century).

The Jesuits Cortyl and du Béron, first apostles of the Pelew Islands, were martyred in 1701, and Chomé (1696–1767), who was prominent in the Missions of Paraguay and Argentina in the province of Misiones, also the Oratorian Gratry (1805–1872), philosopher and member of the French Academy, were natives of the Diocese of Cambrai. The English college of Douai, founded by William Allen in 1568, gave in subsequent centuries a certain number of apostles and martyrs to Catholic England. Since the promulgation of the law of 1875 on higher education, Lille has been the seat of important Catholic faculties.

Notable French and Flemish composers who served as maître de chapelle at Cambrai include Guillaume Dufay, Robert de Févin, Johannes Lupus and Jean de Bonmarché.

Notable chronicle

A chronicle of the bishops of Cambrai was written in the 11th century. This Gesta episcoporum Cambracensium was for some time attributed to Balderic, archbishop of Noyon, but it now seems tolerably certain that the author was an anonymous canon of Cambrai. The work is of considerable importance for the history of the north of France during the 11th century, and was first published in 1615.[2]



Under the old regime the Archdiocese of Cambrai contained forty-one abbeys, eighteen of which belonged to the Benedictines. Chief among them were:

  • the Abbey of St. Géry, founded near Cambrai about the year 600 in honour of St. Médard by St. Géry (580-619), deacon of the church of Treves, and who built a chapel on the bank of the Senne, on the site of the future city of Brussels;
  • the Abbey of Hautmont, founded in the seventh century by St. Vincent Madelgarus, the husband of St. Wandru, who was foundress of the chapter at Mons;
  • the Abbey of Soignies, founded by the same St. Vincent, and having for abbots his son Landri and, in the eleventh century, St. Richard;
  • the Abbey of Maubeuge, founded in 661 by St. Aldegonde the sister of St. Wandru and a descendant of Clovis and the kings of Thuringia, among whose successors as abbesses were her niece, St. Aldetrude (d. 696) and another niece, St. Amalberte (d. 705), herself the mother of two saints, one of whom, St. Gudule, was a nun at Nivelles and became patroness of Brussels, and the other, St. Raynalde, a martyr;
  • the Abbey of Lobbes which, in the seventh and eighth centuries, had as abbots St. Landelin, St. Ursmar, St. Ermin, and St. Theodulph, and in the tenth century, Heriger, the ecclesiastical writer;
  • the Abbey of Crespin, founded in the seventh century by St. Landelin, who was succeeded by St. Adelin;
  • the Abbey of Maroilles (seventh century), which St. Humbert I, who died in 682, was abbot;
  • the Abbey of Elnon, founded in the seventh century by St. Amandus and endowed by Dagobert;
  • the Abbey of St. Ghislain, founded in the seventh century by the Athenian philosopher, St. Ghislain, and having as abbots St. Gerard (tenth century) and St. Poppo (eleventh century);
  • the Abbey of Marchiennes, founded by St. Rictrudes (end of the seventh century);
  • the Abbey of Liessies (eighth century) which, in the sixteenth century, had for abbot Ven. Louis de Blois, author of numerous spiritual writings;
  • the Abbey of St. Sauve de Valenciennes (ninth century), founded in honour of the itinerant bishop St. Sauve (Salvius), martyred in Hainaut at the end of the eighth century;
  • the Abbey of Cysoing, founded about 854 by St. Evrard, Count of Flanders, Duke of Frioul and son-in-law of Louis the Debonair.


The principal places of pilgrimage are:

  • Notre-Dame de la Treille at Lille, a church dedicated in 1066 by Baldwin V, Count of Flanders, visited by St. Thomas of Canterbury, St. Bernard, and Pope Innocent III, and where, on 14 June 1254, fifty-three cripples were suddenly cured;
  • Notre-Dame de Grâce at Cambrai, containing a picture ascribed to St. Luke;
  • Notre-Dame des Dunes at Dunkerque, where the special object of interest is a statue which, in the beginning of the fifteenth century, was discovered near the castle of Dunkerque;
  • the feast associated with this, 8 September 1793, coincided with the raising of the siege of this city by the Duke of York;
  • Notre-Dame des Miracles at Bourbourg, made famous by a miracle wrought in 1383, an account of which was given by the chronicler Froissart, who was an eyewitness. A Benedictine abbey formerly extant here was converted by Marie Antoinette into a house of noble canonesses. Until a comparatively recent date, the great religious solemnities in the diocese often gave rise to ducasses, sumptuous processions in which giants, huge fishes, devils, and representations of heaven and hell figured prominently. Before the law of 1901 was enforced there were in the diocese Augustinians, English Benedictines, Jesuits, Marists, Dominicans, Franciscans, Lazarists, Redemptorists, Camillians, Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul, and Trappists; the last-named still remain. Numerous local congregations of women are engaged in the schools and among the sick, as, for instance: the Augustinian Nuns (founded in the sixth century, mother-house at Cambrai);
  • the Bernardines of Our Lady of Flines (founded in the thirteenth century);
  • the Daughters of the Infant Jesus (founded in 1824, mother-house at Lille);
  • the Bernardines of Esquernes (founded in 1827);
  • the Sisters of Providence, or of St. Therese (mother-house at Avesnes);
  • the Sisters of Our Lady of Treille (mother-house at Lille), and the Religious of the Holy Union of the Sacred Hearts (mother-house at Douai).


  1. ^ Guiard of Laon
  2. ^  Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "Balderic". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 


Coordinates: 50°10′24″N 3°13′59″E / 50.1732°N 3.23305°E / 50.1732; 3.23305

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lille — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lille (Latin: Diocesis Insulensis) is an archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church in France. Erected in 1913 as the Diocese of Lille, the archdiocese encompasses the arrondissements of Dunkerque …   Wikipedia

  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sens — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sens is a Latin Rite Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic church in France. The Archdiocese comprises the department of Yonne, in the region of Bourgogne. Established in the first century AD as the Diocese of… …   Wikipedia

  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Avignon — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Avignon is an Archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church, in France. The diocese exercises jurisdiction over the territory embraced by the department of Vaucluse, in the Region of Provence Alpes… …   Wikipedia

  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Clermont — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Clermont, is an Archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church, in France. The diocese comprises the department of Puy de Dôme, in the Region of Auvergne. Its see is Clermont Ferrand Cathedral. For… …   Wikipedia

  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Tournai — The Diocese of Tournai, coextensive with the province of Hainaut The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tournai, also called (Doornik), is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church in Belgium. The diocese was formed in 1146, by the… …   Wikipedia

  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Arras — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Arras, is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church, in France. The episcopal see is the Arras Cathedral, in the city of Arras. The diocese encompasses all of the Department of Pas de Calais, in the… …   Wikipedia

  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Orléans — Diocese of Orléans Dioecesis Aurelianensis Orléans Cathedral Location …   Wikipedia

  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Antwerp — The territorial extent of the diocese of Antwerp. Note that it is smaller than the Province of Antwerp. The Diocese of Antwerp is a diocese of the Catholic Church in Belgium. The diocese was restored in 1961. [1]. It is a suffragan of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Rodez — Rodez Cathedral The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rodez (Latin: Dioecesis Ruthenensis) is an diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. The Episcopal seat rests in Rodez. The diocese corresponds exactly to the Department of… …   Wikipedia

  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Limoges — The Cathedral of Limoges. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Limoges is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church in France. The diocese comprises the départments of Haute Vienne and Creuse. After the Concordat of 1801, the See of… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.