Albi, Archdiocese of
ALBI, ARCHDIOCESE OF
Also known as Albiensis; Located in southwest France, 2,232 square miles in area, corresponding to Tarn department; Metropolitan see since 1678.
Albi was detached from the civitas Ruthenorum (Rodez) in the fourth century as the civitas Albigensium and included in Aquitania I. The see was created after the civitas, at the end of the fourth century; the first known bishop, Diogenianus, appeared in the fifth century. Albi was held by the Visigoths (who detained St. Eugene, bishop of Carthage, there in 475) until clovis took it (507). Feudal lords seized the bishopric in the 10th century, but in the 11th-century Gregorian reform, the churches were freed. Rather unjustly, Albi's name has been given to the Manichaean heretics (albigenses) of the 12th and 13th centuries, rampant throughout south France. Bishops and mendicant orders (Dominicans and Franciscans) fought the heresy, and Simon de Montfort and louis viii led crusades against its protectors. In 1264 the bishops became temporal lords of the city under the suzerainty of the Holy See. The 16th-century Wars of Religion brought grave troubles, but a religious renaissance took place at the end of the 16th and in the 17th century (convents and episcopal activity). Albi's bishops include St. Salvius (574–584), the reformer Louis d'Amboise (1474–1503), the reformer Hyacinthe Serroni (1678–87) who founded the seminary, Cardinal François de bernis (1764–94), and Eudoxe mignot (1900–18) who renewed ecclesiastical studies.
The red-brick, fortified Cathedral of Sainte-Cécile (1282–1514) symbolized the temporal power of the bishops. The late 13th-century episcopal palace (La Berbie ) adjoins it. The sixth-century monastery of Saint-Salvy, with a 10th–13th century church, has a crypt and a cloister of note.
Albi, suffragan to Bourges, was divided in 1317 to form Castres, and in 1678 was made an archbishopric by Innocent XI. Suppressed by the concordat of 1801 and united to Montpellier, it was restored as a see and a metropolitan with its present suffragans (1817–22). The diocese now comprises the old See of Albi and the former Sees of Castres and Lavaur (1317). Former monasteries outside the city include Vieux (a double monastery founded by St. Eugene), Troclar (the late seventh-century double monastery of St. Sigolène), Castres (seventh–nineth century, which became a see), Gaillac (tenth century), Sainte-Marie of Vielmur (tenth), Sainte-Marie of Ardorel (12th, Cistercian in 1138), and Sainte-Marie of Candeil (12th century). The council of 1254, attended by bishops of the provinces of Narbonne, Bourges, and Bordeaux,, dealt with heresy ecclesiastical discipline, usury, and the rights and obligations of Jews. Albi has ten diocesan statutes (1230–1762).
Outside the city are the cathedrals of Castres (17th–18th century) and Lavaur (14th–16th, fortified), the former abbey church of Saint-Michel in Gaillac (16th-century Romanesque, fortified), and the fortified church of Rabastens (13th–14th). There are shrines to Our Lady near Albi and in Grazac, as well as Saint-Crucifix at Cordres.
Bibliography: c. de vic and j. vaissete, Histoire générale de Languedoc, ed. e. dulaurier et al., 16 v. in 17 (new ed. Toulouse 1872–1904). l. de lacger, États administratifs des anciens diocèses d'Albi, de Castres, et de Lavaur (Paris 1921). e. jarry, Catholicisme 1:273–275.