Tours, Archdiocese of
TOURS, ARCHDIOCESE OF
Metropolitan see in central France since c. 400. Thanks to gregory (540–594), Archbishop of Tours after 573, Tours' religious beginnings are well known.
He gives St. Gatian (Catianus ) as the first bishop, sent by the pope c. 250; but the date is too early, for Gregory himself says the fourth bishop died in 385.
The glory of Tours began with the episcopacy of St. Martin (372 to Nov. 8, 397), known for two facts of fundamental importance: he evangelized the Tours countryside, establishing in villages (vici ) the first six rural parishes in France; and he gave monks an important role in this apostolate. On the right bank of the Loire across from Tours he founded the monastery of marmoutier, and Sulpicius Severus says that 2,000 monks were at his burial (Nov. 11).
For centuries afterward Tours was especially known for the shrine of St. Martin, the most popular and famous pilgrimage center in Christendom. Gregory recounts the miracles worked there. Clovis, after his victory over the Visigoths, came as a pilgrim to Tours in 507 and received there the message of the Emperor of the East, who gave him the title of (honorary) consul. Some historians have claimed that Clovis was baptized in Tours and not in reims. A sumptuous basilica that had been built on the tomb of Martin was dedicated in 472. Clovis's queen, clotilde (d. 545), came to Tours to end her days. An important monastery continued that was founded by Martin and cared for pilgrims. Its most famous abbot, alcuin, who came from England on Charlemagne's request, founded a school and a calligraphic scriptorium there that produced excellent MSS in the script called Caroline minuscule, the model for modern type. The kings of France preserved Martin's cape (cappa, chape ), whence the word chapel, the shrine where it was kept. In 853 the Norman threat caused St. Martin's relics to be moved to auxerre; they were returned Dec. 13, 885, but had to be kept protected within Tours' walls until 919.
After Alcuin's death (804), the Abbey of St-Martin became a chapter of canons, the most famous in France. The kings kept the title Abbot of St. Martin, and the canons were powerful lay lords, richly endowed. Popes came on pilgrimage: Urban II (1096), Pascal II (1107), Callistus II (1119), and Alexander III (1163). All the kings of France came there and were received as collegiate canons. The 11th–century basilica dedicated in 1108 was rebuilt after 1175. The pilgrimage of St. Martin lost importance c. 1200, as rome, the Holy Land, santiago de compostela, and mont saint-michel became more popular. During the French Revolution the chapter was abolished and most of the basilica was destroyed. In 1860, thanks to M. Dupont (1797–1876) and Abp. Joseph Guibert (1857–71), the body of St. Martin was rediscovered (Dec. 14); a new basilica was built, and the pilgrimage continues.
Many Merovingian and Carolingian Church councils were held in Tours; Urban II presided in 1096, and Alexander III in 1162 when Frederick I Barbarossa was excommunicated (attended by St. Thomas Becket). The numerous saints from Tours include Maurus and Brigitte (fourth century), Flovier (fifth century), Ursus (508), and Avertinus (c. 1189). More recent are Bl. jeanne de maillÉ (d. 1414), and St. francis of paola (d. 1507). François pallu (d. 1684) was a founder of the paris foreign mission society. Tours' prelates include: perpetuus (c. 461–491), advocate of vigils, fasts, and the veneration of saints; volusianus (491–498); the poet hildebert of lavardin (1125–33); Elias of Bourdeille (1468–84), who assisted at the Estates General in Tours in 1468; Georges d' Armagnac (1548–51); Alexander farnese (1553–54); and boisgelin de cucÉ (1802–04). The council of 1054 condemned the heretic berengarius, enemy of the school of bec, who taught grammar, rhetoric, and perhaps medicine in Tours. In and around Tours there are many religious monuments and châteaux. There is no religious history of the diocese.
Bibliography: Gallia Christiana (Paris 1856–65) v.14. e. r. vaucelle, La Collégiale de Saint-Martin de Tours (Paris 1907). Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France 47 (1961) i–xiv, 1–221, articles by various authors in connection with the Année martinienne. p. bataille and e. r. vaucelle, Saint-Martin de Tours (Paris 1925). r. fiot, Jean Bourdichon et Saint François de Paule (Tours 1961). d. beaunier, Abbayes et prieurés de l'ancienne France, ed. j. m. l. besse., v.8 (Paris 1920). Annuario Pontificio (Rome 1964) 455, 1410.