Summer Series: The Pious Establishments of France in Italy (5)

August 02, 2022

The primary vocation of this institution, in accordance with the testamentary provisions of its numerous legatees, is to maintain the religious communities which serve its five churches (community of St. Louis, convent and rectorate of the Trinité des Monts, the national chapel of France in Loret

The Small Oratory of a Confraternity

On August 19, 1650, three Francs-Comtois: Jean Bonnot, priest of Salins (Jura), Hippolyte Collot, of Poligny (Jura), doctor of rights attached to the Court of Rome, and Jean Menacard, canon of Saint-Maurice de Salins , received, in the name of their compatriots installed in Rome, the authorization to meet in assembly.

Ten days later, “forty-nine nationals of Franche-Comté de Bourgogne met, under a temporary authorization, in the chapel of the Purification of the Transalpine.”

They declared that they wanted to create a national confraternity in Rome under the invocation of St. Andrew and St. Claude, patrons and protectors of Franche-Comté; they added that this confraternity, both pious and charitable, would endeavor to find resources to open a church and then to found a hospital for the exclusive use of the poor of Franche-Comté who would find themselves in Rome.

In a second assembly, held at Saint-Yves des Bretons on November 4, 1650, the nationals of Franche-Comté, 156 in number, formed procurators for the acquisition, at the expense of their national group, of an oratory intended to the exercises of the confraternity they planned to establish.

These agents chose a small church on the old square of St. Silvester that the reformed Bernardines of the province of Piedmont owned, and which the monks consented to transfer to them. This oratory was first rented, and the group met there to receive notification of an act of May 7, 1652 which gave the canonical institution to the confraternity of St. Claude.

It was decided that the confraternity would be recruited only among the nationals of Franche-Comté and among the male children of the said nationals or citizens residing in Rome. It did not take long, however, to make an appeal in favor of the work to the Comtois who lived in Naples, and one of them, Claude François de Lallemand, Baron de Lavigney, was accredited to receive the offerings intended for the confraternity.

The oratory of the old place of St. Silvester was acquired on April 3, 1656. Authorization to make tombs there was obtained on June 28, 1659. At the same time, the confraternity bought three houses contiguous to its church and undertook rebuilding one of them. These houses would allow for the construction of a hospital, authorized in 1663.

The endowment of the asylum had been ensured by François Henry, who was originally from Montarlot-les-Champlitte (Haute-Saône) and settled for several years in Rome, thanks to an important legacy contained in the will written by this benefactor on January 26, 1654 .

All Francs-Comtois arriving in Rome were admitted free of charge at the hospice founded for them. Above the small door studded with nails of the establishment, later ceded to the hospital, one could still read, at the end of the 19th century, the inscription HOSPITIO PER. LI. POVERI PELLEGRINI BORGOGNONI CONTE: Hospice for poor pilgrims from the county of Burgundy.

The Church of St. Claude of the Francs-Comtois of Burgundy

The Church of St. Claude des Francs-Comtois de Bourgogne was built between 1728 and 1731 under the direction of the architect Antoine Dérizet. It replaced the pre-existing oratory.

The Church of the Francs-Comtois in Rome, placed under the double patronage of St. Andrew and St. Claude, is better known simply by the name of St. Claude des Bourguignons. On its frieze, we can read the following inscription: COMITATUS BURGUND. SS. ANDREÆ AP. AND CLAUDIO EP. NATIO DIC – The people of the County of Burgundy dedicated this church to St. Andrew, apostle, and St. Claude, bishop.

After the conquest of Franche-Comté by the troops of Louis XIV, the church was administered by the parish priest of St. Louis of the French and fixed to it was the inscription QUICUMQUE ORAVERIT PRO REGE FRANCIÆ HABET DECEM DIES DE INDULGENTIA, A PAPA INNOCENT. IV: Anyone who prays for the King of France obtains ten days indulgence granted by Pope Innocent IV.

In 1793, the church of St. Claude and its Confraternity were grouped together with the other national churches dependent on France (Saint-Nicolas des Lorrains, Saint-Yves des Bretons and Saint-Louis des Français) and the royal convent of la Trinité des Monts, within the Pious Establishments of France in Rome and Loreto.

An agreement concluded in 1886 between France and the Holy See entrusted the use of this church to the Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament.

The allocation of some of the property of the Pious Establishments of France to Rome, such as the conventual complex of the Trinité des Monts and the church of St. Claude of the Francs-Comtois of Burgundy, is the subject of bilateral international agreements between France and the Holy See.

The last regulation of this foundation, August 25, 1956, was approved by a brief from Pope Pius XII, dated September 8, 1956. Their current administrator is Fr. Bernard Ardura.