1825 Inaugural Pastoral Letter by the New Archbishop of the Diocese of Bourges

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On offer is the inaugural address of an early-19th century French Archbishop of the Roman Catholic church, Guillaume-Aubin de Villèle. The document is the pastoral letter published by the newly-installed Archbishop of the Diocese of Bourges, France.

Pastoral letters are open letters written by the head of the Diocese to clergy and often to all members of the church in a particular jurisdiction. Such letters were frequently sent out at particular times of the year, coinciding with ecclesiastical seasons, such as Lent or Christmas. However, they were not limited to any particular event or celebration. In this case, the occasion was his installation as Archishop.

The author of this pastoral letter, Guillaume-Aubin de Villèle, was born in February 1770. He entered religious orders at a very young age, emigrated, was ordained a priest in Dusseldorf in 1793. He moved to Vienna. He was first consecrated a Bishop in 1817 in Verdun France and subsequently appointed Bishop of Soissons in 1820 In November 1824, he was appointed Bishop of Bourges and installed in June 1825. That same year, he was appointed a Peer of France with the title of Count. In addition to his duties as Archbisop of Bourges, he sat in the Upper Chamber of the French Government. He passed away in 1841. This pastoral letter was written when he was appointed bishop of Bourges:

Lettre Pastorale de Monseigneur L'Archeveque de Bourges a l'occasion de sa prise de possession et de son installation.

[Translation: Pastoral Letter of the Archbishop of Bourges on the occasion of his taking possession and his installation].

The front cover also carries the coat of arms of Archbishop de Villele. The letter is signed with his printed signature and sealed with his coat of arms. It also bears the printed signature of his secretary, Jean Figier. This is an interesting piece of the history of this southern French city and a link to the turbulent and difficult days following the Napoleonic wars.

This 12-page, printed document measures 10.0 inches by 7.75 inches. It has some staining due to age but is otherwise in good condition. The address itself is 7 pages long including the cover page. The binding is threaded and is in very good condition

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