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Charles-Emile Freppel

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Born at Ober-Ehnheim, Alsace, 1 June, 1827; died at Paris, 22 Dec., 1891. He was Bishop of Angers, France ; and deputy from Finistère. He began his studies at a school in the little town; and at seventeen he had received his baccalaureate degree, and entered the seminary Strasburg, where he received the subdiaconate at the hands of Mgr. Roess in 1848, and was at once appointed to the chair of history. Subsequent to his ordination to the priesthood in 1849, he took a noteworthy part in the discussions of Bonnetty and Maret on the subject of traditionalism. He passed a brilliant examination which secured for him the degree of doctor at the Sorbonne, and after a competitive examination he was named chaplain of the church of Ste-Geneviève at Paris. Here he delivered a course of sermons on the "Divinity of Jesus Christ " which have since been published in book form. He conducted Advent and Lenten exercises at the Madeleine and St-Louis d' Antin, at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, and St. Germain l' Auxerrois. His early discourses were published in 1869, in two volumes. Having been appointed to the chair of sacred eloquence at the Sorbonne, he conducted a series of scholarly studies on the Apostolic Fathers and the Christian apologists. They fill ten volumes (4th ed., Paris, 1885). In 1867 Napoleon III invited him to preach the Lenten sermons at the Tuileries, and these discourses have been published in a volume entitled "La Vie Chrétienne".

It was about this time that Renan's "Vie de Jésus" provoked such a storm of controversy. Mgr. Freppel published a reply to the work, his "Examen critique de la Vie de Jésus de M. Renan" (Paris, 1863), which was perhaps the best refutation of the theories expounded by the French free-thinker. Pius IX, who was then making preparations for the Council of the Vatican, summoned the Abbé Freppel to Rome to assist in the work of drawing up the schemata (drafts of decrees ). The pope thus showed his appreciation of Freppel's learning and accomplishments, and appointed him to the Bishopric of Angers, rendered vacant by the death of Mgr. Angebault. He received the episcopal consecration at Rome, 18 April, 1870. Later there was shown a disposition to elevate him to the metropolitan See of Chambery; but he declined with the same modesty which in 1885, caused him to implore those, who, with M. Jules Ferry, desired his elevation to the dignity of the cardinalate, to discontinue their efforts on his behalf. Upon his return from Rome he proved himself, by his defense of his country, as good a patriot as at the council he had shown himself as able theologian.

In 1871, he accepted the candidature for one of the eIectoral divisions of Paris. He was defeated because of the ill will which the liberals had borne him since the council, at which, according to them, he had shown himself too ultramontane. In 1880, the electors of Finistere asked him to act as the representative, he was elected by a large majority to this position of trust. His first speech in the French Chamber was a vigorous protest against the expulsion of the Jesuits. For eleven years the bishop-deputy ( eacute;vêque député ) was the most attentively-heard orator in the Chamber, treating with equal authority the most diverse subjects, and such as would seem farthest removed from his ordinary studies. While he did not bring about the triumph of justice to the extent he desired, he defended it nobly though running violently counter to the prejudices of that assembly. He won even the esteem of his enemies, and M. Floquet was one day was able to re-echo the plaudits not only of the Chamber but of the whole of France. His "OEuvres polémiques" and his "Oratoires" have been collected in seventeen volumes (Paris, 1869-88). Almost all the great religious, political, and social questions which engaged men's minds at that time are here treated. Amongst his numerous other writings should be mentioned his work on the French Revolution (Paris, 1889), and "Bossuet et l'éloquence sacrée au XVII siècle", (Paris, 1894).

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