- Rambert, Toussaint
- Ravier, Joseph
- Reboul, Bruno
- Reinaud, Andre Jean Valentin
- Revol, Ferdinand
- Rey, Achille Yves Laurent
- Rey, Jean Jacques Denis
- Reynaud, Lucien
- Reynaud, Raphaël
- Reynier, Jacques Symphorien
- Reynier, Léon Gustave
- Ricard, Auguste
- Ricard, Pascal
- Riccardi, Nicolas Léonard
- Richard, Jean-Marie
- Richaud, Joseph Laurent
- Rivory, Henri
- Rodet, François
- Rolland, Augustin De
- Rolleri, Antoine Étienne
- Romans, Major Seminary (1853-1857)
- Ronze, Félix
- Ronzy, Augustin
- Roque, Théodore
- Rossi, Jean-Baptiste
- Rossi, Joseph
- Roullet, Joseph Vincent
- Roure, Bernard
- Roustan, Auguste
- Rouvière, Pierre
- Roux, Jacques Nicolas
- Roux, Joseph Marie
- Roux, Laurent
- Roux, Marius
- Roze-Joannis, François Joseph
- Rual, Joseph
Romans, Major Seminary (1853-1857)
On October 2, 1853, Bishop Pierre Chatrousse, bishop of Valence, entrusted to seven Oblates the direction of two diocesan institutions of first rank: the major seminary at
Romans, located twenty kilometres from Valence, and the house of mission preachers situated near a Calvary monument in a fenced property adjacent to the seminary property.
As former vicar general of Grenoble, as friend of Bishop Eugene de Mazenod and of Bishop Hippolyte Guibert, the Bishop of Valence, whose major seminary was under the direction
of the diocesan clergy, judged it preferable to approach a religious congregation. This was a practice current in many dioceses.
In spite of a lack of the “distinguished” individuals requested by Bishop Chatrousse, the Founder accepted these two works which corresponded so well to the ends of the Congregation.
Indeed, in the summer of 1853, the second edition of the Rule appeared. In it, for the first time, there was one whole chapter dedicated to the formation of the clergy, an
endeavour that became a primary end of the Congregation second only to that of the missions.
For lack of brilliant professors, Bishop de Mazenod gathered together a personnel which was young, but which was adequate in number and in qualifications for this seminary
in the province with a student body of sixty seminarians that Father Toussaint Rambert judged to be of “very mediocre”
talent. Father Charles Bellon, visitor in England at the time, was named superior of the seminary and Father Melchior Burfin was named director of the house of mission
The Oblates, especially those from Notre-Dame de l’Osier and Notre-Dame de Bon Secours who were already well known for having preached many missions in the diocese, were
well received by the clergy and especially by the seminarians. Ten Oblates spent time there as professors and directors. For almost all of them, it was their first experience
as professors, but they were brimming with energy and talent, especially for example, Fathers Casimir Chauvet, Toussaint Rambert, Aimé Martinet and Jean-Baptiste Berne.
Judgments made of the Oblate administration and even on their intellectual application and the good morale of the students seems to be rather laudatory as recorded in the
reports and the correspondence of the day. In 1854-1855, the report on the Congregation echoed these laudatory judgments: “The zeal of the priests, their good morale and their
ability made up for their lack in number and led them to find ways to respond to all the needs of their students and to all the demands of the situation. For their part, the
seminarians responded staunchly to the care and the devotion of their directors. And thanks to this mutual diligence, the seminary of Romans was this year even better than
last year, a model house with regard to ecclesiastical discipline, genuine prayer life and love of study.”
For their part, the mission preachers, Fathers Chauvet and J.-P. Emeyre under the direction of Father Antoine Cumin from 1854 on preached continually. The secretary of the
1856 General Chapter wrote among other things: “The mission preachers, three in number, preached many missions with very outstanding results, notably in a few parishes corrupted
by socialist passions and their zeal prevailed over the promotion of various political parties.”
Oblate administration came to an end after four years. The main reason for their departure can be explained by a difficult financial situation. Debts piled up each year under
the administration of Father Charles Bellon who had to be replaced by Father Henry Lancenay in 1856. He had been compelled to make many extraordinary expenditures to set up
a library and to provide for the most pressing repairs of the house, a former Recollet convent that was very dilapidated. In addition to that, the seminary was obliged to
provide for the upkeep of the mission preachers who traditionally preached missions without asking for remuneration. On its part, the diocesan administration refused to reimburse
the Oblates for their expenses and asked the seminary directors to give up their salaries. Bishop de Mazenod opposed this. Bishop Chatrousse died in May of 1857 and Fr. Craisson,
the grand vicar, ex-superior of the seminary and not favourably inclined toward the Oblates, exercised for several months a prevailing influence in the diocese. Initially,
he announced the suppression of the house of mission preachers and subsequently must have given bad references concerning the Oblates to the new bishop, Bishop Félix Lyonnet
who was a friend of the Jesuits.
Before taking over his diocese, Bishop Lyonnet made a retreat with the Jesuits of Fourvières. There he met Father Jocas, the former provincial, and Father Gauntrelet who,
at the time, was superior of the province of Lyon which had just lost its three seminaries, all situated in the territory of the new province of Toulouse. Bishop Lyonnet suggested
that they take over the direction of the seminary at Romans if the situation called for it. As of September 10, the provincial sent this happy news on to Father Beckx who
shortly before that had been elected General of the Company. Father Beckx, however, advised caution before “replacing the holy and zealous Congregation of the Oblates” in
order not to antagonize Bishop de Mazenod who was well known as protector of the Jesuit house in Marseilles and of the Company.
The Founder was informed of these negotiations by Father Lancenay and reacted very quickly. In order to avoid the dishonour of being sent away in the more or less distant
future, he immediately recalled the directors from Romans. They left Romans in mid-October a few days before the beginning of the academic year.
This news created a stir throughout the Congregation. In a few months, it lost the direction of two major seminaries: Romans and Quimper. These departures dealt a cruel blow
to the French Oblates with regard to their possible interest in seminary work. Of the five major seminaries that they directed in 1856-1857, they retained only those of Ajaccio
and Fréjus after they left the major seminary of Marseilles in 1862.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Departmental archives of Drôme in Valence, dossier major seminary of Romans, 51 V 47.
Oblate General Archives in Rome. Dossier Romans, France-Midi and various mentions in the registers of the General Councils and the correspondence of 1855 to 1861.
A canon of the cathedral, Histoire des séminaires du diocèse de Valence, Valence, 1895.
ORTOLAN, Théophile, Les Oblats de Marie Immaculée..., vol. I, Paris, 1914, p. 465-469.
BEAUDOIN, Yvon, “Les Oblats au grand séminaire de Romans, 1853-1857” in Études oblates, 23 (1964), p. 291-324; 24 (1965), p. 30-45.