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Ancient Diocese of Mâcon

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(MATISCONENSIS)

Located in Burgundy. The city of Mâcon, formerly the capital of the Mâconnais, now of the Department of Saône-et-Loire, became a civitas in the fifth century, when it was separated from the Æduan territory. Christianity appears to have been introduced from Lyons into this city at an early period, and Hugh, Archbishop of Lyons, in the eleventh century, called Mâcon "the eldest daughter of the Church of Lyons ". The bishopric, however, came into existence somewhat later than might have been expected: in the latter part of the fifth century it was still a Bishop of Lyons who brought succour to the famine-stricken people of Mâcon. At the end of that same century Clovis's occupation of the city both foreshadowed the gradual establishment of Frankish supremacy and brought with it the utter rout of Arianism. Duchesne thinks that the Bishopric of Mâcon, suffragan of Lyons, may have originated in an understanding between the Merovingian princes after the suppression of the Burgundian state. The separate existence of Mâcon as a diocese ended at the French Revolution, and the title of Mâcon is now borne by the Bishop of Autun.

The first bishop historically known is St. Placidus (538-55). The authentic list of his successors, as reconstructed by Duchesne, comprises several bishops venerated as saints : St. Florentinus (c. 561); St. Cælodonius, who assisted at the Council of Lyons in 570; St. Eusebius, who assisted at two councils, in 581 and 585. Tradition adds to this list the names of Sts. Salvinius, Nicetius (Nizier), and Justus, as bishops of Mâcon in the course of the sixth century. Among other bishops of later date may be mentioned St. Gerard (886-926), who died in a hermitage at Brou near Bourg-en-Bresse, and Cardinal Philibert Hugonet (1473-84). For many centuries the bishops seem to have been the only rulers of Mâcon; the city had no counts until after 850. From 926 the countship became hereditary. The Mâconnais was sold to St. Louis in 1239 by Alice of Vienne, daughter of the last count, and her husband, Jean de Braine. In 1435 Charles VII of France, by the Treaty of Arras, ceded it to Philip, Duke of Burgundy, but in 1477 it reverted to France, upon the death of Charles the Bold. Emperor Charles V definitively recognized the Mâconnais as French at the Treaty of Cambrai (1529).

The wars of religion filled Mâcon with blood; it was captured on 5 May, 1562, by the Protestant d'Entragues, on 18 August, 1562, by the Catholic Tavannes, on 29 Sept., 1567, it again fell into the hands of the Protestants, and on 4 Dec., 1567, was recovered by the Catholics. But the Protestants of Mâcon were saved from the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, probably by the passive resistance with which the bailiff, Philibert de Laguiche, met the orders of Charles IX. Odet de Coligny, Cardinal de Châtillon, who eventually became a Protestant and went to London to marry under the name of Comte de Beauvais, was from 1554 to 1560 prior, and after 1560 provost, of St-Pierre de Mâcon. The Abbey of Cluny, situated within the territory of this diocese, was exempted from its jurisdiction in the eleventh century, in spite of the opposition of Bishop Drogon. There is stilt preserved in the archives of the city a copy of the cartulary of the cathedral church of St-Vincent, rebuilt in the thirteenth century, but destroyed in 1793.

Of the six councils held at Mâcon (579, 581-or 582-585, 624, 906, 1286), the second and third, convoked by command of King Gontran, are worthy of special mention. The first, in 581 or 582, which assembled six metropolitans and fifteen bishops, enacted penalties against luxury among the clergy, against clerics who summoned other clerics before lay tribunals, and against religious who married; it also regulated the relations of Christians with Jews. The second, in 585, at which 43 bishops and the representatives of 20 other bishops assisted, tried the bishops accused of having taken part in the revolt of Gondebaud, fixed the penalties for violating the Sunday rest, insisted on the obligation of paying tithes, established the right of the bishop to interfere in the courts when widows and orphans were concerned, determined the relative precedence of clerics and laymen, and decreed that every three years a national synod should be convoked by the Bishop of Lyons and the king.

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