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Gaspard Mermillod

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Bishop of Lausanne and cardinal, born at Carouge, Switzerland, 22 September, 1824; died in Rome, 23 February, 1892. He studied at the Jesuit College at Freiburg, Switzerland ; became a priest in 1847, and was soon after a curate in Geneva, where he established two periodicals: "L'observateur Catholique" and "Les Annales Catholiques". In 1857 he became parish priest of Geneva and at the same time Vicar-General of the Bishop of Lausanne for the canton of Geneva. The splendid edifice of Notre-Dame, still the principal church of Geneva, was built by him from 1851 to 1859. The funds were subscribed from all parts of Christendom. In 1864 he became titular Bishop of Hebron, and auxiliary of the Bishop of Lausanne for the canton of Geneva, with residence at Geneva. For seven years he pursued without hindrance his episcopal functions, and was especially active for Catholic education, founding with Marie de Sales Chappuis the female Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales at Troyes for the protection of poor working girls. When the Holy See made him independent Administrator of Geneva, the Radical Government of the canton protested, and a long and serious conflict ensued. He was at first forbidden to exercise any episcopal functions whatever, and later was declared deposed even as regarded his functions as a parish -priest. When the Bishop of Lausanne renounced unconditionally the title of the See of Geneva, the pope appointed Mermillod to be Vicar-Apostolic of Geneva. The City Council, then, caused his expulsion from Switzerland, whereupon he repaired to Ferney, in French territory, from which place he governed his diocese as best he could. At the cessation of the religious conflict Leo XIII made the newly elected Bishop of Lausanne also Bishop of Geneva, without, however, depriving Mermillod of his office. The Government did not, however, alter its tactics, and Mermillod could return to Switzerland only after the death of the bishop whose successor he became. The conflict was, however, by no means at an end, for the canton of Geneva refused to recognize him as bishop, and normal relations were resumed only when Mermillod became cardinal in 1890. Cardinal Mermillod was one of the great preachers of modern times. In his far-sighted policy he founded in 1885 the "Union Catholique d'études sociales et économiques". His Lettres à un Protestant sur l'autorité de l'église et le schisme" (Paris, 1860) made a great impression. Another important work was his "De la vie surnaturelle dans les ames" (Lyons, 1865; Paris, 1881). His collected works were edited by Grospellier (Paris, 1893) in three volumes.


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