French Bishop, b. at Daon (Mayenne), 31 October, 1762; d. at Paris, 1 October, 1806. He was a first professor of theology in the higher seminary and in the University of Angers, then pastor of St. Laud's parish, in that city. During the Revolution he refused to take the Civil Oath, and succeeded by his eloquence in arousing the peasants of Anjou and Vendée into insurrection. He then became one of the most important leaders of the whole movement by his personal influence both with the chiefs and on the different military councils. He was called "L'Apôtre de la Vendée". As to what was his real conduct during this insurrection, towards the end of it especially, its various historians do not agree. At any rate, after the 18th Brumaire, Bernier played the part of negotiator between the First Consul and the insurgents. When Bonaparte had resolved, in spite of all difficulties and opposition, to unite the French nation and the Catholic Church, he chose the Abbé Bernier to represent the French Government in the preparatory negotiations. This choice was a happy one, on the part of the First Consul, for, despite how widely historians differ in their appreciations of Bernier's character, none of them denies him a deep and subtle intelligence, an untiring and resourceful activity, and a seductive influence--all qualities which made him a clever politician.
As soon as Mgr. Spina and Caselli, the pope's envoys, arrived at Paris, in November, 1800, Bernier entered into relations with them, and, at once began, with Mgr. Spina, the preparatory negotiations on the important points which were to be discussed, namely, the resignation of the bishops, the reduction of the number of dioceses, the alienation of ecclesiastical properties, nomination to the bishoprics, and the taking of the oath of fidelity to the constitution. They successively presented four projects of reduction, followed by another project drawn up by Napoleon himself. Difficulties arose, necessitating the presence in Paris of the Papal Secretary of State, Consalvi, in June, 1801. The Concordat was to be signed on 13 July, and Bernier had been appointed by a decree of the preceding day (Messidor 23, an. IX) as one of the three representatives of the French Government, to conclude the Concordat and sign it. In the meantime, the project agreed upon had been changed by Bonaparte ; letters were exchanged between Consalvi and Bernier; Consalvi refused to sign the new project. Negotiations continued until the 16th of July, when an agreement was reached and the Concordat signed at 2 o'clock in the morning. (See CONCORDAT.) In 1802 Bernier was named Bishop of Orléans, by Bonaparte.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online