Aix, Archdiocese of
AIX, ARCHDIOCESE OF
Also known as Aquensis In Gallia ; located in southeastern France, 20 miles north of Marseilles; it corresponds to the arrondissements of Aix and Arles in Bouches-du-Rhône department and is 1,768 square miles in area; metropolitan see since 445. Since 1822 the archbishop has also held the titles of arles (once a metropolitan and for a while a primatial see) and Embrun (once a metropolitan see). The area of the diocese has varied greatly. Until 1789 it corresponded to the old Roman civitas (96 parishes). In 1802 it included the departments of Var and Bouches-du-Rhône. In 1822 it lost Marseilles arrondissement and Var department. Its suffragans c. 800 (Apt, Fréjus, Gap, Riez, and Sisteron) comprised the old Roman province Narbonensis II, less Antibes. algiers (1838–67) and Nice (1860) were added later.
The 11th-century legend that the sees of the lower Rhône were founded by disciples of Christ (Lazarus, Mary Magdalen, and Martha) is without value. The first known bishop dates from c. 379. Until c. 1000 the history of Aix is very obscure. Many lacunae in its list of bishops correspond with the domination of the Arian Goths and to the years when Saracens raided from their base at Garde-Freinet (until 972). After the Muslims were expelled, Aix revived and became the capital of the County of Provence, with which its history then merged. Despite Abp. Jean de Saint-Chamond, who in 1566 announced from the episcopal throne his apostasy to Protestantism and married, the diocese remained strongly Catholic. The Catholic reform followed the rulings of the Council of Aix (1585); but Jansenism, supported by members of the Parlement of Provence (1501–1789), troubled the diocese, especially in the 17th century.
Of 34 synodal statutes known (1362–1760), 22 date from the 18th century. Provincial councils were held in 1103, 1112, 1409, 1585, 1838, and 1850. The most important was that of 1585, under Abp. Alexandre Canigiani (1576–91), an Italian who attended the Councils of Milan held by St. Charles borromeo, whose disciple he was. The decisions at Aix in 1585 contained the essence of Borromeo's rules and spirit: definition of an ideal bishop, rules of the episcopal life, and relations with clergy and faithful; pastoral duties, which were also insisted upon, included preaching, administration of the Sacraments, pastoral visitations, validation of Baptism, strict rules on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the spirit of Rome in the liturgy, rules for seminaries (Canigiani founded one in 1580), and division of the diocese into itinerant vicariates with regular inspection. Borromeo's spirit and methods thus were introduced before the spirit of French reform developed. Other archbishops of Aix were peter aureoli (1321–22), Guillaume fillastre (1420–22), Gilbert gÉnÉbrard (1593–97), Alphonse du Plessis de Richelieu (1626–29, Carthusian brother of Cardinal Richelieu and later archbishop of Lyons), Jérôme de Grimaldi (1648–85, who left his goods to the seminary he started), Charles de Vintimille (1708–29, transferred to Paris), Jérôme Champion de Cicé (1771–1801, ecclesiastical minister of Louis XVI who played a role in the Estates General of 1789), and François Xavier Gouthe-Soulard (1886–1900).
Famous people in Aix's history include St. eucherius of lyons (d. c. 450); St. elzÉar of sabran (1285–1323), canonized with his wife Delphine in 1369; Abp. Honoré de Laurens of Embrun (1600–12); Ignace Cottolendi, vicar apostolic of Nanjing (1630–62); and Cardinal Abp. J. H. Guibert of Paris (1871–86). The former Cistercian Abbey of Silvacane (1147–1440) and the 12th-century Benedictine montmajour in Arles were distinguished. The archbishop was chancellor of the university founded in Aix (1403) by the Pisan Pope Alexander V, with faculties of theology, law, and medicine. Aix, once known for baths (Aquae Sextiae, after the consul Sextius who founded it in 123 b.c.), has beautiful monuments: the 12th-century Cloister of Saint-Sauveur; the composite (5th–16th century) Cathedral of Saint-Sauveur with a 5th-century tomb of St. Mitrias (d. c. 300) and a 5th-century baptistery; Sainte-Madeleine and the Jesuit chapel (17th century); and Saint-Jean-de-Malté (13th–15th century). Arles has the church and cloister of Saint-Trophime (11th–15th century), Notre-Dame de la Major (12th century), and the Romanesque Saint-Honorat. Sainte-Marthe is a shrine in Tarascon. Among other shrines in the diocese, many to the Blessed Virgin, is that of Saintes-Maries of the Sea (for gypsies) in honor of St. Sarah, the gypsy (servant) of Mary Magdalen and Martha.
Bibliography: É. griffe, La Gaule chrétienne à l'époque romaine, 2 v. (Paris 1947–58; rev. ed. 1965—).