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Henri François Xavier de Belsunce de Castelmoron

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Bishop of Marseilles, b. 1671 at the Château de la Force, in Périgord; d. 1755 at Marseilles. His father was Armand de Belsunce, Marquis de Castelmoron and his mother Anne de Caumont de Lausun. He studied classics in Paris at the College de Clermont or Louis-le-grand and then entered the Society of Jesus. In 1699 he left the Society to become Vicar-General of Agen. The "Vie de Suzanne de Foix", his aunt, was written by him and published while at Agen, 1709. That same year he was made Bishop of Marseilles. The heroic charity he displayed during the plague of 1720 and 1721 has made his name a household word and won for him the title of "Good Bishop ". When the plague broke out a large fleet was taking the Princess of Orléans to Italy where she was to marry the Duke of Modena. The suite of the princess took to flight, and with them all the notables of the city, but Bishop Belsunce remained with a few heroic friends, and together they battled against the plague with heroic self-sacrifice and devotion, till they conquered it. In his address to the Assembly of the Clergy in 1725, Belsunce stated that more than 250 priests and religious perished in their mission of Christian charity. But he was the soul of the rescuers and the praises bestowed on him by Pope and Millevoye ("Essay on Man " and "Belsunce ou la peste de Marseille") are not above his real merits. The King of France offered him, by way of recognition, the See of Laon to which was attached the first ecclesiastical peerage of the realm and afterwards the metropolitan See of Bordeaux . Belsunce refused both and contented himself with accepting the pallium sent him by Clement XII. During his incumbency Belsunce fought against another plague called Jansenism. He attended, 1727, the Synod of Embrun where Soanen was condemned. He opposed with all his power Colbert of Pamiers. In spite of the protest of the Parliament of Provence, he instructed his priests to refuse absolution to the appellants against the Bull "Unigenitus". Nearly all his pastoral instructions are against Jansenism. Belsunce was a writer of no mean power. Besides the "Vie de Suzanne de Foix" (Agen, 1709), and his pastoral instructions, we have from his pen "Le combat chrétien" translated from St. Augustin's "De Agone Christiano" and "L'art de bien mourir" translated from Bellarmine 's "De Arte Bene Moriendi", also "Antiquités de l'Eglise de Marseille" (Marseilles, 1747-51). All these writings have been published by Jauffret under the title of "Oeuvres de Belsunce" (Metz, 1822).


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