- Gallo, Jean Léonard
- Gandar, Édouard
- Gazard, Jean-Baptiste
- Gazzano, Jean-Marie
- General Chapters during our Founder’s Lifetime
- Genin, Victor
- Genthon, Jean Louis
- Gibelin, Joseph
- Gibelli, Antoine-Marie
- Gigaud, Léopold
- Gignoux, Joseph André Jérôme
- Gillet, Marie-Joseph
- Giroud, Victor Joseph
- Golden Madonna, The (Marseilles)
- Gondrand, Charles Ferdinand
- Gregory XVI, Pope from 1831 to 1846
- Grognard, Marcellin Henri
- Guibert, Cardinal Joseph Hippolyte
- Guigou, Jean Joseph Pierre, Vicar Capitular of Aix
- Guinet, François-Xavier
- Guinet, Jean-Baptiste
Guibert, Cardinal Joseph Hippolyte
Born at Aix, December 13, 1802
Taking of the habit, January 25, 1823
Perpetual oblation at Aix, December 29, 1823 (no. 18)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, August 14, 1825
Ordained bishop of Viviers, March 11, 1842
Appointed Archbishop of Tours, February 4, 1857
Appointed Archbishop of Paris, July 19, 1871
Made cardinal, December 22, 1873
Died in Paris, July 8, 1886.
Hippolyte Guibert (Bernad).
Joseph Hippolyte Guibert was born in Aix-en-Provence, December 13, 1802. He was baptized in the church of Saint John of Malta the following December 19. He had one brother named Fortuné and two sisters: Pauline and Joséphine.
His father, Pierre, was a farmer or a gardener and owned a small piece of land near the town. In 1826, he bought another piece of land at Tholonet, but was soon compelled to sell it to pay his debts. He then entered the service of the Count of Félix as administrator of the property of la Reynarde, in the suburbs of Marseilles. Joseph Hippolyte’s mother was called Rose-Françoise Pécout (1784-1858). Everyone loved her because of her goodness and her imperturbable gentleness.
Childhood and Youth
Joseph Hippolyte was a playful scamp who often accompanied his father who went out every day to work his small piece of land. A lay person, Mr. Chabert by name, taught him to read and write. He then served as altar-boy at the parish of Saint John of Malta. It was the parish priest, Abbé Étienne Christine who prepared Joseph for his first Holy Communion. For six years, along with a few friends, he attended Latin classes taught by Abbé Donneau. Later on, Bishop Guibert summarized this period of his education. “I was my own teacher. All Mr. Donneau did was teach us grammar, but he had a very fine library through which my cousin Mitre and I ranged with enthusiasm. We were our own formators. When I was fourteen or fifteen, I used to take my classical authors to the cemetery of St. John’s parish or to the hill of the Poor near Aix and I would study there alone.”
In 1819, the young man entered the major seminary in Aix which, at the time, was being run by the Sulpicians. He remained there until the end of 1822. The superior at the time was Mr. Dalga. Abbé Bony was the spiritual director. He taught moral theology and followed the teaching of Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Seminarian Guibert received minor orders at the hands of Bishop de Bausset-Roquefort, June 1, 1822. At the beginning of 1823, Joseph joined the Missionaries of Provence and began his novitiate on January 25. It seems that Jacques Marcou (1799-1826) who was a novice at Notre-Dame du Laus at the time was one of his acquaintances. In a May 11, 1822 letter, Marcou urged Joseph to follow in his footsteps, telling him among other things: “Oh, my dear friend, if I was not afraid of straining my credibility, I would tell you about the happiness we experience in our holy house. I would tell you about the spirit of our institute. However, suffice it to say that we are all striving for perfection, a perfection we shall not fail to attain by faithfully following our holy rule, that we are working for the greater glory of God for the salvation of souls, that we are taking on all the good it is possible to do. The most abandoned souls do not fall outside the scope of our ambition. In a word, we have only one heart and one soul, Cor unum et anima una. There you have enough to give you an idea of our house...”
Novitiate proved to be a strenuous test for Brother Guibert because of opposition to his vocation from his father, the absence of Father de Mazenod in Paris dealing with the appointment of Fortuné de Mazenod to the see of Marseilles, doubts about the viability of this institute which was not yet approved by Rome, change of novice masters (Deblieu at first, then Courtès) etc. Little by little, he succeeded in overcoming his temptations thanks to help offered by Father de Mazenod who wrote him a few letters at the time to encourage him. One of these letters, especially that of June 26, contains a kind of prophecy in which we read: “Courage, my very dear child, do not be surprised that the demon overwhelms you with the clouds of his fury, that he disturbs your soul as during a storm [...] The enemy would aim fewer blows at you, he would be less relentless in seducing you, if he did not fear your ministry. Although, properly speaking, he does not know the future with scientific certainty, his natural perspicacity reveals events to him which depend from secondary causes in a way as not to be mistaken. He has concluded from the calibre of soul with which the good God has endowed you, the particular and prevenient graces which his goodness has willed you to have, of the vocation to which he has called you and which places you, so to speak, fully armed in the enemy’s camp with the warriors of the faith who gain in the name of Jesus Christ as many victories as the battles in which they engage; he has concluded, I say, that you also would be formidable to his empire...” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1814-1825, Oblate Writings I, vol. 6, no. 109, p. 119)
In the course of the year of 1823, in order to be of assistance to Bishop Fortuné, Fathers de Mazenod and Tempier accepted to become vicars general of Marseilles. This gave rise to disaffection and unrest in the Congregation and several priests left. Subsequently, the Founder came to Aix on November 7, the First Friday of the month. He prescribed a fast on bread and water for the community. That night, he had all the lamps extinguished and inflicted upon himself a flagellation which drew blood. He then prostrated himself on the threshold of the door to the refectory and compelled the priests and brothers to walk over him. This extraordinary spectacle made a profound and lasting impression on Brother Guibert. All his hesitations vanished once and forever. He was ordained to the sub-diaconate on the Ember Days of Advent and made his vows on December 29. Brother Guibert continued his study of theology, especially through personal reading. Father Courtès, however, taught him classes in Sacred Scripture and, from the summer of 1824, Father Albini taught moral theology and even Italian. Brother Guibert received the diaconate on December 18, 1824 and on August 14, 1825, he was ordained to the priesthood in Marseilles by Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod.
His First Years in the Ministry (1825-1828);
Superior of Notre-Dame du Laus and of the Major Seminary of Ajaccio (1829-1841)
Before his ordination to the priesthood, Brother Guibert went to found the house at Nîmes along with Father Honorat and Father Mie, superior. He took part in several missions and retreats and was chaplain for the prisons.
On the occasion of his 1825-1826 trip to Rome for the approbation of the rules, the Founder made the decision to provide better formation for his religious. Upon his return to France, he appointed Father Guibert master of novices. The latter held this important post from July 1826 to spring of 1828 with brief absences by reason of illness in September 1827 or to take part in some parish missions. His health began to fail. He needed a change of air and he went back to Nîmes for a few months in 1828 before being sent to Notre-Dame du Laus.
Father Guibert was superior of Notre-Dame du Laus from May of 1829 to the end of 1834. He displayed a variety of talents as director of a marian shrine, preacher of parish missions, master of novices, teacher, etc. He also had to deal with some grave difficulties which he was able to resolve, showing courage and astuteness in the process. First of all, there was the July Revolution of 1830 which put an end to parish missions for several years. The superior of Notre-Dame du Laus welcomed priests in retirement, helped out the priests of the neighbouring parishes and urged the Founder to send Oblates to North America. In 1832, he wrote: “For a congregation in its birth stages, there is need of an element of zeal. Inaction would be fatal for us.” He defended the moral teachings of Saint Alphonsus against Bishop Miollis, Bishop of Digne, who was a Jansenist and Bishop Arbaud, Bishop of Gap, who was a Gallican. In 1832, the novices returned from Switzerland where they had been sent because of the July Revolution. Father Guibert took up again the task of master of novices for one year, aided by Father Adrien Telmon who taught Sacred Scripture. During his six years as superior of Laus, Father Guibert restored the former convent and began the building of a bell tower. Everywhere he went he undertook major construction projects. He used to say: “A work is never solidly established until it stands surrounded by its own security walls.”
October 18, 1834, Bishop de Mazenod wrote to Father Guibert: “A vast horizon opens up before us; we are perhaps called to the work of regenerating the clergy and the entire people of Corsica. The Bishop is calling us to direct the seminary, and he is ready to confide to us the missions in his diocese; we must take it or leave it. [...] But who shall we send to found this important establishment? Professors are needed, above all a very capable superior is needed. We have no one in the Society but yourself, my dear friend, who unites in his person the qualities required to make this foundation...” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1831-1836 Oblate Writings I, vol. 8, no. 493, p. 135) The 19th of the previous September, the Founder had already told Bishop Toussaint Casanelli d’Istria that the Oblates accepted the direction of the major seminary and he added: “I will then give you as superior the most distinguished priest of our region, either as regards his profound piety, or for the breadth of his knowledge, or for the shrewdness of his erudite mind...”
As superior of the major seminary of Ajaccio from 1835 to 1841, Father Guibert showed himself worthy of the confidence the Superior General had placed in him. In a few years, he succeeded in regaining possession of the former seminary and added three stories to it. The number of seminarians soon went from fifteen to more than one hundred with some competent professors, especially Father Albini for moral theology, Father Telmon for Sacred Scripture and Father Moreau for dogmatic theology. In order to obtain subsidies, Father Guibert often had to travel to Paris where he developed the acquaintance of and became friends with the government ministers and Louis-Philippe, the King. It was at this time that he displayed his talents as a diplomat in bringing about a reconciliation between Bishop de Mazenod and the King who wanted in no way to see a Bishop of Icosia in France, a bishop appointed in 1832 by Pope Gregory XVI without government authorization.
In Paris, the government, who, at the time, appointed the bishops, was not slow to look upon the superior of the seminary in Ajaccio as a candidate for a see. From 1837 on, his name made the rounds in the ministries upon the occasion of the appointment of a few bishops, in particular, the Bishop of Gap. August 10, 1841, the journal L’Ami de la Religion, announced his appointment to the see of Viviers. He immediately left for Paris where, for six months he awaited the bulls of papal appointment. March 11, 1842, Bishop Eugene de Mazenod consecrated him bishop in the church of Saint-Cannat in Marseilles.
Bishop of Viviers (1842-1857)
On the occasion of the 1801 Concordat, the diocese of Viviers had been amalgamated to that of Mende. Reconstituted in 1821, it had had as bishops André Molin (1823-1825) and Bishop Pierre-François Bonnel (1826-1841).
Well received by the clergy and the faithful, Bishop Guibert began by making a pastoral visit of the most important centres. In his first year as bishop, he confirmed 18,000 people. He took five years to visit all the parishes of the diocese. December 6, 1847, he wrote: “I have just finished a general visitation of my diocese. There was no parish, no matter how small it might have been or tucked away in the most inaccessible mountains, where I did not spend twenty-four hours and exercised my ministry. There was a great deal of wear and tear associated with these trips, but abundant consolations as well. I do not know whether I will ever be able to repeat this same endeavour, but in any case, I will wait a certain number of years before carrying it out in the same manner and in a general way.”
After having acquired an overall general knowledge of his diocese, the bishop worked to restore the spirit of obedience, respect and charity in the clergy who were agitated and divided by the activities of the Abbés Charles-Régis and Augustin-Vital Allignol. These two brothers, priests of the diocese of Viviers, had in 1839 published a work entitled: De l’état actuel du clergé de France (Concerning the present state of the clergy of France), in which the authors challenged the excessive dependence of the lower clergy on its ecclesiastical superiors and called for the immovability of parish priests. This book, well received by a certain sector of the clergy, was censured by the bishops. A dispute about this issue broke out among the clergy and overflowed into the newspapers. Bishop Guibert had taken as his motto: Suaviter et fortiter (Gently and firmly). Initially, he tried the “gently,” but in 1844, concerned about the negative influence the Allignol brothers were having on the clergy, he suspended their powers to preach and hear confessions and forbade them the use of a private oratory. In 1845, he wrote two pastoral letters on the moveability of parish priests and on the dangerous tendency of taking a stand in opposition to episcopal authority. The exercise of the “firmly” succeeded in bringing the rebels to heel and he appointed them parish priests of Mélas.
Bishop Guibert took an interest in the problems of the church of France. He did not look favourably upon provincial councils. He wrote several letters to the minister of education in favour of freedom in education, but he did not get involved in the controversy waged between the two publications, L’Univers and L’Ami de la Religion as they argued the merits of Christian classics as opposed to pagan classics.
He founded a number of diocesan institutes. In the wake of the 1850 laws of freedom of education, he caused to be built a minor seminary located at Aubenas in the heart of the diocese. He set up a retirement fund for the older priests, established annual exams for the young priests, church conferences and life in common for parish priests and their assistants. He encouraged religious congregations, defended the Jesuits and, in 1846, confided the pastoral care of the shrine of Notre-Dame de Bon Secours at Lablachère to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Located on the confines of the diocese of Viviers, Nîmes and Mende, this house enabled the Oblates to expand the field of their missionary apostolate.
Bishop Guibert maintained very close relations with Bishop de Mazenod. He wrote to him on a regular basis and, together with him, made a joint visit to Corsica in 1851. He took part in the General Chapters of 1826, 1831, 1837, 1843 and 1850. From 1831 on, he held the office of Assistant General, but in 1850 asked not to be re-elected to that post.
Archbishop of Tours (1857-1871)
Always on good terms with the political authorities, Bishop Guibert refused the archbishopric of Avignon in 1848, that of Grenoble in 1852 and that of Aix in 1857. It was in that year that he was transferred to the archdiocese of Tours by an imperial decree of February 4.
In the see of Tours, he succeeded to Bishop François-Nicolas Morlot, recently named archbishop of Paris. He left the see of Tours deeply in debt. Bishop Guibert wrote about this: “I have already experienced the great wound that I find here, finances in bad condition. It is unbelievable! More than 300,000 francs in debt, all resources used up, no way of drawing any revenue from the clergy or the laity who have already been bled white!” Immediately, he closed down for one year the minor seminary and then the educational institute of Louis Gonzaga and the church college of Loches. Subsequently, he was able to obtain some sizable government subsidies and, in few years, succeeded in paying off the debts.
Just as in Viviers, he then took a few years to make a pastoral visit of all the parishes in the diocese. In 1859, he made the Roman rite mandatory, but maintained something of the ancient external rite of his diocese. He wrote several pastoral letters about the need of an annual retreat for the clergy, annual exams for the young priests, the movement of the population to urban centres, the cult of the saints, etc. In 1865, he celebrated a clergy synod.
Among the works accomplished during his tenure in Tours we must give first place to the initiative taken in conjunction with Mr. Dupont for the reconstruction of the famous national basilica of Saint-Martin, almost entirely destroyed during the French Revolution. In 1860, Saint Martin’s tomb was rediscovered under the ruins. A provisional chapel was erected and entrusted to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1867. In 1870, the bishop had already collected more than a million francs and was able to launch the construction of the basilica.
During the war of unification of Italy, Bishop Guibert, like the majority of his colleagues, defended with firmness and moderation the rights of the Holy See and the temporal power of the Pope. He took part in the First Vatican Council. Already in 1865, he had written to Pius IX indicating that he was in favour of a non-doctrinal council with the sole purpose of affirming the Pope’s temporal power, to confirm the Syllabus of 1864 with regard to questions of discipline, the immovability of parish priests, freedom of communication of the bishops with Rome, liturgical unity, etc., but the definition of papal infallibility seemed to him to be useless and not at all opportune. For reasons of health, he left Rome before the vote taken on the question of papal infallibility, but immediately wrote to the Pope declaring his solidarity with him.
In the course of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, Bishop Guibert revealed the extent of his charity by setting up provisional medical clinics in his episcopal palace, his seminaries and in his country home. He likewise welcomed into his episcopal palace members of the provisional government, transferred to Tours for three months. When the national capital was bereft of its Archbishop, Bishop Georges Darboy, executed by firing squad March 24, 1871, the Government for National Defence which had had the opportunity of knowing and experiencing Bishop Guibert’s talents and virtues, recommended him for the post of Archbishop of Paris.
Archbishop of Paris (1871-1886); Cardinal (22 December, 1873)
By decree of October 27, 1871, Pius IX canonically installed Bishop Guibert as Archbishop of Paris. On November 27 of the following year, Bishop Guibert took possession of his see and was installed at Notre-Dame. He was 69 years old at the time. Initially, he chose Bishop Jacques Jeancard as his auxiliary; then in 1875, he obtained Bishop Richard, Bishop of Belley as his coadjutor. He focused his first efforts on the problem of the war orphans; then, he worked methodically to build churches and organize parishes in the suburbs of Paris.
Two basic projects characterized his term as bishop: In 1875, the creation of the Catholic University (called “l’Institut catholique” in 1880) the direction of which he entrusted to Mgr. d’Hulst; and the construction of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre to which he called the Oblates who organized a movement of prayer and devotion to the Sacred Heart, a movement that had a great impact on all of France and the whole world. They laid the corner stone of the building in June 16, 1875.
Cardinal Hippolyte Guibert (GA).
Bishop Guibert was raised to the cardinalate December 22, 1873. In virtue of his office as cardinal, he took part in the conclave of 1878 which elected Leo XIII as Pope.
His age, experience and wisdom, the austere simplicity of his life constituted him the advisor of his confreres in the episcopate. He is the one who consecrated the basilica at Lourdes in 1876 and the church of Louvesc in the diocese of Viviers in 1877. In 1879, he crowned Notre-Dame de La Salette in 1879 and in 1880 Notre-Dame de Bon Secours in Ardèche.
A born diplomat, he continued to work with the government and public opinion when it was a case of presenting demands, pointing out some social danger and defending human rights. Occasions for this were not lacking and he always intervened in a moderate and prudent manner, but with firmness and dignity. His biographer, Paguelle de Follenay, wrote: These were indeed Cardinal Guibert’s three main qualities: “His energy was inexhaustible; he had a goodness that was not always evident to the public because of the severe cast of his features; he had a tactful prudence in his human relations and in conducting his affairs.”
In spite of his manifold activities, the cardinal remained very attached to the Congregation. He always played the role of counsellor for Bishop de Mazenod and for Father Fabre. He took part in the chapters of 1856, 1861, 1867, 1873 and visited the capitulars at the chapter held at Autun in 1879. He was the co-consecrator of Bishop Alexandre Taché in 1851 and the consecrating bishop for Bishop Henry Faraud in 1863, of Bishop Christophe Bonjean in 1868 and Bishop Matthieu Balaïn in 1878. As Archbishop of Paris, it was his custom to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception with the Oblates at the General House on St. Petersburg street.
Cardinal Guibert died on July 8, 1886. His body was laid to rest in the basilica of the Sacred Heart in Montmartre.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Archives of the Archdiocese of Paris:
1 D IX 1: Correspondence to Viviers, Tours and Paris.
1 D IX 2: Registry of consecrations and blessings 1876-1886. Correspondence 1876-1880.
1 D IX 3: Correspondence 1835-1885.
1 D IX 4: Letters of best wishes and of sympathy; funeral orations.
Oblate General Archives, Rome:
Numerous letters to: his family from 1822 to 1866 (8 dossiers); to Sisters of the Cenacle from 1842 to 1886 (4 dossiers); to Abbé Davin, to Canon Dupuy, to Father Fabre (one dossier each).
Clippings from newspapers (6 dossiers).
Brief manuscript biography, genealogy, etc.
Œuvres pontificales, 5 volumes (1842-1886).
BOURRET, J., Souvenirs sur le cardinal Guibert, 1886.
PAGUELLE DE FOLLENAY, Vie du cardinal Guibert, archevêque de Paris, Paris, 1896, 2 volumes.