Catholic Church in France
The Catholic Church in France is part of the worldwide Catholic Church in communion with the Pope in Rome. Established in the 2nd century in unbroken communion with the bishop of Rome, it is sometimes called the "eldest daughter of the church" (French: fille aînée de l'Église).
Catholic Church in France
|French: Église catholique en France|
|President||Éric de Moulins-Beaufort|
|Primate of the Gauls||Olivier de Germay|
|Apostolic Nuncio||Celestino Migliore|
|Headquarters||Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris|
|Origin||c.177 Christianity in Gaul|
c.496 Frankish Christianity
Gaul, Roman Empire
|Separations||Huguenots (16th century)|
|Official website||Episcopal Conference of France|
The first written records of Christians in France date from the 2nd century when Irenaeus detailed the deaths of ninety-year-old bishop Saint Pothinus of Lugdunum (Lyon) and other martyrs of the 177 AD persecution in Lyon. In 496 Remigius baptized King Clovis I, who therefore converted from paganism to Catholicism. In 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, forming the political and religious foundations of Christendom in Europe and establishing in earnest the French government's long historical association with the Catholic Church. In reaction, the French Revolution (1789–1790) was followed by heavy persecution of the Catholic Church. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Laïcité, absolute neutrality of the state with respect to religious doctrine, is the official policy of the French Republic.
Estimates of the proportion of Catholics range between 41% and 88% of France's population, with the higher figure including lapsed Catholics and "Catholic atheists". The Catholic Church in France is organised into 98 dioceses, which in 2012 were served by 7,000 sub-75 priests. 80 to 90 priests are ordained every year, when the church would need eight times as many to compensate the number of priest deaths. Approximately 45,000 Catholic church buildings and chapels are spread out among 36,500 cities, towns, and villages in France, but a majority are no longer regularly used for mass. Notable churches of France include Notre Dame de Paris, Chartres Cathedral, Reims Cathedral, and Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, Eglise de la Madeleine, and Amiens Cathedral. Its national shrine, Lourdes, is visited by 5 million pilgrims yearly. The capital city, Paris, is a major pilgrimage site for Catholics as well.
In recent decades, France has emerged as a stronghold for the small but growing Traditionalist Catholic movement, along with the United States, England and other Anglophone countries. The Society of Saint Pius X, a canonically irregular priestly society founded by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre has a large presence in the country, as do other traditionalist priestly societies in full communion with Rome such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and others.
Some of the most famous French saints and blesseds include St. Denis, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Irenaeus, St. Jean-Marie Vianney the Curé of Ars, St. Joan of Arc, St. Bernadette, St. Genevieve, Louis IX of France, St.Elizabeth of the Trinity, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac, St. Catherine Labouré, St. Louis de Montfort, St.Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, St Francis de Sales, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Bl Nicholas Barré, and St. Bernard of Clairvaux.