The capital of an arrondissement in the department of Marne, northeast France; since the 3d or 4th century the seat of a metropolitanate. In 2001 the archdiocese had 76 parishes, three churches or mission stations, 168 secular and 14 religious priests, 58 members of men's religious institutes, 306 members of women's religious institutes, and 20 permanent deacons. There were 594,000 Catholics in a population of 608,356; it is 6,931 square kilometers in area.
City. Reims (Gallic Durocortorum ) was the capital of the Gallic Remi, a tribe that gave the city its name in the 3d century. It was a major Gallo-Roman civitas at the junction of routes from Lyons to Great Britain and from Paris to Lorraine, but it lost importance when Paris became the capital and crossroads of France. After the ruinous mid-3d-century barbarian invasions, Reims was fortified and became the main defense point against the Germans, the capital of Belgica II, a city of soldiers and officials. Christianity probably appeared there early. Gregory of Tours mentions Timothy and Apollinaris as 3d-century martyrs in Reims, which probably had a bishop by 300. Imbetausius at the Council of arles (314), 4th in a later episcopal list, is the first certainly known bishop. The first Christian community and the first basilica were in the southeast suburb.
St. Nicasius, slain by either Vandals (407) or Huns (451), built the first cathedral, within the walls. clovis, to whom St. remigius had sent a letter on his accession (481), occupied Reims after the battle of Soissons (485–486); and king and bishop became good enough friends for Remigius to be entrusted with Clovis' religious instruction and baptism at Reims (496 or 506?). Reims thus became the religious cradle of the Frankish monarchy, a fact of basic importance in its history.
In the 6th and 7th centuries Reims held within its walls, for reasons of security, the Abbeys of Saint-Thierry,
saint-remi, Saint-Pierre-les-Dames, and Saint-Pierre in civitate, as well as a hospital. Moreover, there were schools, famous in Gallo-Roman times. To judge from these establishments, the Church seems to have been the largest landowner in the city of 60 to 75 acres. Royal privileges assured the Church's predominance, despite confiscations by charles martel; immunity was accorded (575–583) and confirmed (625, 711–715, 769–794, and after).
Reims's bishops were of major importance in Carolingian times. Gilles, closely involved in the intrigues of the Merovingian kings, was deposed at the synod of Metz (590). St. Nivard (649–672) founded the monastery of Hautivilliers. St. Reolus founded that of Orbais c. 680. Rigobert (698–743), godfather of Charles Martel, became entangled with him later. Abel (743–748) was the first to use the title archbishop. turpin (753–800) gave his name to the hero of the Chanson de Roland. ebbo (816–845), a counselor of the rebel sons of Louis the Pious, was expelled from Reims and died as bishop of Hildesheim. hincmar (845–882), the most famous of Reims's bishops, rebuilt his cathedral (862). Despite depradations the Church of Reims at this time was rich: 17 basilicas, four abbeys, a hospital, and a cathedral chapter founded c. 800. Several Carolingian kings were consecrated in Reims, which at times became a royal residence. Norman incursions made the bishops rebuild the fortifications (c. 885), torn down at the time of Ebbo. In 940 Louis IV gave the archbishop the comitatus (rights of a count) of the civitas. Thus began the important temporal sovereignty of the archbishop of the city.
In the 10th and 11th centuries arose merchant suburbs (a commune in the 12th, with a charter from the archbishop in 1182), and the famous episcopal school was established. Reims's ties with political life were close. Archbishop Adelbero (969–987) was the great elector of Hugh Capet (987); Gerbert (991–995), formerly director of the episcopal school, later became Pope Sylvester II.
In feudal days Reims was above all the city of consecration of kings. A bull of Sylvester I (999) gave its archbishops a monopoly of the consecration. All the Capetian kings but nine were consecrated at Reims. At Charles VII's consecration (1429), probably the most important, joan of arc, who sought and obtained the consecration by her victories, was present, standard in hand. Charles X was the last king consecrated (1825). Cardinal de La Roche Aymon, who consecrated Louis XVI in 1775, had baptized, confirmed, married, and given first Communion to the young king—testimony of the marriage of the royalty with the Church of Reims. The consecration comprised four main ceremonies: oaths of the king, consecration, crowning, enthroning with popular acclaim—followed by a Mass at which the king received Communion under both species. The anointings, nine in all, were made with the miraculous chrism of the Holy Ampulla (brought by an angel to St. Remigius for the baptism of Clovis). A banquet at the archbishop's palace followed the ceremony. A day or so later the king would touch the sores of those ill with scrofula (adenitis), of which there were 2,500 at the consecration of Louis XVI. The king, fasting, said "I touch you; may God cure you."
Feudal archbishops came from the foremost families. Two were sons of kings, four others were royal princes; five (1533–1641) belonged to the ducal family of Lorraine. Popes often visited Reims: Stephen V (816), Leo X (1049), Callistus II (1119), Innocent II (1131) who presided at a council attended by St. Bernard, and Eugene III (1148) at another council with St. Bernard. Notewor thy archbishops include gervase (1055–67), simon of cramaud (1409–13), and Robert (1493–97) and Guillaume (1497–1507) briÇonnet.
After undergoing 49 months of bombardment that destroyed 12,000 of its 14,000 houses in World War I, Reims suffered again in World War II. But it still has beautiful monuments. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame was built (1211–1311) on the location of the old cathedral of St. Nicasius and Hincmar's cathedral (490 ft long, 201 ft wide at the transept, a nave 125 ft high, and towers 267 ft high). It was restored after World War I, thanks in large part to Rockefeller's contribution. Its statues equal the most beautiful of the Greeks. The Church of Saint-Remi (11th–15th century), formerly the abbey church, is almost as beautiful as the cathedral. Practically nothing remains of the former episcopal palace, destroyed in World War I.
Reims had flourishing schools very early. The College of Good Children, founded c. 1245 to educate clerics, was made a university with four faculties by Cardinal Charles of Lorraine (1548). The exempt cathedral chapter, which shared seigneurial rights with the bishop, furnished the Church with five popes, 23 archbishops, and 53 cardinals; St. bruno the Carthusian belonged to it. St. John Baptist de la salle (1651–1719) was a canon of Reims; G. Marlot (1596–1667) was a historian of the city; Denis petau (1583–1652) was professor at the Jesuit College; and Thierry ruinart (1657–1709) was born in Reims.
Archdiocese. The diocese (Remensis ) does not compare with the city. Reims has been a metropolitan see since the creation of Belgica II. At the time of the official Notitia Galliarum (c. 400) its suffragans were Soissons, Châlons, saint-quentin (or noyon), Arras, cambrai, Senlis, Beauvais, amiens, Thérouanne, and Boulogne. Disrupted by the Germanic invasions, the province gradually restored itself in the 6th and 7th centuries. St. Remigius founded the See of Laon. When diocesan boundaries were redrawn in 1559, Reims lost Cambrai, Arras, and Tournai. At the end of the Old Regime its suffragans were Soissons, Châlons, Senlis, Laon, Noyon, Beauvais, Amiens, and Boulogne. Suppressed by the con cordat of 1801, the see was restored in 1822 with its present suffragans.
Among its archbishops are Cardinal Thomas Gousset (1840–66, a theologian, revived the tradition of provincial synods (Soissons 1849, Amiens 1853, Reims 1857) and multiplied institutions of Catholic education;J. B. Landriot (1867–74) preached and wrote; Cardinal L. H. Luçon (1906–30) remained calm through the bom bardments of World War I; Cardinal Emmanuel Suhard (1930) became archbishop of Paris in 1940. Archbishops of old had the titles of duke, peer, legatus natus of the Holy See, and primate of Belgian Gaul.
Besides Saint-Remi, former abbeys include Saint-Basle (scene of a council in 991), Mouzon (councils in 948, 995, 1147), Saint-Nicaise (founded 6th or 7th century on the tomb of St. Nicasius, suppressed in 1792), and Igny.
The oldest historian of Reims is flodoard, canon of Reims (d. 966), who wrote a remarkable Historia Remensis ecclesiae.
Bibliography: g. marlot, Histoire de la ville, cité et université de Rheims, 4 v. (Reims 1843–46). f. vercauteren, Étude sur les civitates de la Belgique seconde (Brussels 1934). g. bourgeois, Le Duché de Reims, première pairie de France (Paris 1944). l. brÉhier, La Cathédrale de Reims (Paris 1916). m. renard, Notre-Dame royale. Tableaux du sacre de Louis XVI à Reims (Paris 1927). m. l. b. bloch, Le Rois thaumaturges (Strasbourg 1924). g. teissier, Le Baptême de Clovis (Paris 1964). g. allemang, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65); suppl., Das Zweite Vatikanishe Konsil: Dokumente und Kommentare, ed. h. s. brechter et al. (1966) 8:1139–41. g. baillat Reims (Paris 1990). r. hamman-maclean, Die Kathedrale von Reims (Stuttgart 1993). p. desportes Diocèse de Reims (Turnhout 1998). flodoard of reims Historia Remensis ecclesiae, ed. m. stratmann (Hannover 1998). Annuario Pontificio (2001) 500.