RICHARD DE LA VERGNE, Cardinal Francois (1819-1908)
Cardinal Archbishop of Paris.
ALS – Autograph Letter Signed, 1857, 2pp, approx. 8-1/4 x 10-1/4. Written as vicar general of the diocese of Nantes, from the seminary of St. Sulpice where he was in residence. One of the earliest letters of Richard we have ever offered (he had been a priest 14 years when written). Untranslated French. Fine condition.
Born at Nantes, Loire-Atlantique. Educated at the seminary of St Sulpice he became successively vicar-general of Nantes, bishop of Belley, and in 1875 coadjutor of Paris. In 1886 the death of Archbishop Guibert was followed by Mgr. Richard’s appointment to the see of Paris, and in 1889 he received a cardinal’s hat.
In January 1900 the trial of the Assumptionist Fathers resulted in the dissolution of their society as an illegal association. The next day an official visit of the archbishop to the Fathers was noted by the government as an act of a political character, and Mgr. Richard was officially censured. His attitude was in general exceedingly moderate, he had no share in the extremist policy of the Ultramontanes, and throughout the struggle over the law of Associations and the law of Separations he maintained his reasonable temper. He presided in September 1906 over an assembly of bishops and archbishops at his palace in the rue de Grenelle, a few days after the papal encyclical forbidding French Catholics to form associations for public worship, but it was then too late for conciliation. In December he gave up the archiepiscopal palace to the government authorities. He was then an old man of nearly ninety, and his eviction evoked great sympathy.