Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Ancient Catholic Diocese of Chichester (Cicestrensis), in England. This see took its rise in consequence of the decree passed at the Council of London in 1075, requiring all bishoprics to be removed from villages to towns. The old see of the South Saxons, which had been founded towards the end of the seventh century by St. Wilfrid of York, had been filled by a long line of bishops whose cathedral church was at Selsea. In consequence of the new decree, Stigand, Bishop of Selsea, transferred the see to Chichester in 1082. This town, called Regnum by the Romans, obtained its present name from Cissa, son of Ælle, the Saxon chieftain who landed in 477, the town becoming Cissa's Ceaster, or fort ( castrum ), and, in tiime, Chichester. The most notable of the early bishops was Ralph de Luffa (1091-1123), who built the cathedral ; much of the structure as it still exists was his work. In 1108 he was able to consecrate at least a part of it, but in 1114 the first fire occurred, and extensive rebuilding was necessary. The cathedral was completed and consecrated in 1184, but in 1186 it was again greatly damaged by fire. Bishop Seyffrid II (1180-1204), who had completed the building, now undertook its reconstruction, making considerable changes and introducing Early English work into the Norman building, which accounts for the composite character of the nave. His successor, Simon Fitz Robert of Wells (1204-1207), being a favourite of King John, obtained many important privileges for the see, but after his death, John kept it vacant for many years. The next bishop was Richard Poore (1215-1217), known as the builder of Salisbury cathedral. After him came Ranulf of Warham (1217-1224) and Ralph Neville, the Chancellor (1224-1244), who was remarkable as a statesman. On his death there was a contest over the appointment to the see, which the pope settled by naming and consecrating Richard of Wych (1245- 1253), better known as St. Richard of Chichester, the friend and chancellor of St. Edmund. King Henry III, enraged at this, refused him the temporalities of his see. Having for a time been compelled to live on the alms of his own clergy, St. Richard ultimately succeeded in overcoming the king's anger, and for eight years ruled the see with wisdom and holiness, his last act being to consecrate a church at Dover in honour of his friend and master, St. Edmund. In 1276, during the pontificate of Stephen of Berghsted (1262-1288), he was canonized, and his relics were enshrined above the high altar.

Chichester had another saintly prelate in Gilbert de S. Leophardo (1288-1305), who added to the Lady Chapel. William Rede (1369-1385) was a scholar-bishop who collected the early records of the see, and his namesake, Robert Rede (1397-1415) compiled the earliest register now existing. Bishops succeeded one another rapidly, many being transferred to other sees. Among them Reginald Pecock (1450-1459), famous for his learning, was accused of heresy and resigned his see. His successor, John Arundel, (1459-1478), built the rood screen in the cathedral. But the diocese fell into bad condition, as is shown by the register of the next bishop, Edward Storey (1478-1503), a wise administrator who founded the Chichester grammar school. Robert Sherburne (1508-1536) made some protest against the encroachments of Henry VIII, but being unable to withstand them officially, resigned the see, and was succeeded by the schismatic Richard Sampson (1536-1543), who in 1538 destroyed the shrine of St. Richard at the king's command. The next bishop, George Day (1543-1557), though he had accepted schismatical institution from Henry VIII, yet proved a good Catholic, on which account he was imprisoned, and replaced by John Scory. Bishop Day regained his see, however, in 1554. He was succeeded by John Christopherson (1557-1559), the last Catholic Bishop of Chichester. After him the notorious William Barlow inaugurated the line of Anglican prelates. There were in the diocese two archdeaconries, Chichester and Lewes, and, according to the valuation made in 1291, which remained the basis of valuations until the reign of Henry VIII, there were nearly three hundred parishes. Battle Abbey and Lewes Priory were the chief monasteries, and all the chief orders were well represented. One consequence of Sussex being originally so largely in the hands of Norman proprietors was the existence of an unusually large number of small priories dependent on houses in Normandy, such as the Abbey of Fécamp. The bishop had ten episcopal manors, and the Archbishop of Canterbury held the collegiate church of South Malling and twenty-five parishes. The arms of the see were azure, a Presbyter John sitting on a tombstone, in his left hand a book open, his right hand extended, or, with a linen mitre on his head, and in his mouth a sword, all proper.


More Encyclopedia

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 in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

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

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Job 9:1-12, 14-16
1 Job spoke next. He said:2 Indeed, I know ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 88:10-11, 12-13, 14-15
10 Do you work wonders for the dead, can shadows rise ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:57-62
57 As they travelled along they met a man on the road ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 1st, 2014 Image

St. Therese of Lisieux
October 1: Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called ... Read More

Marketplace

Bible Now!
Bibles & New Testaments

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter