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St. Vincent's Reading List XXXVI: Nicolas Pavillon, the Bishop of Alet

by Rev Edward R Udovic CM 1/7/2013 9:07:00 AM

Rituel Romain du Pape Paul V, à l'Usage du Diocèse d'Alet, avec les Instructions et les Rubriques en Français, by Nicolas Pavillon. Paris: Chez Charles Savreux, 1667.

Call Number: SpC. 264.025 C363r1667

A full-text version of this volume may be viewed here.

Nicolas PavillionVincent de Paul's respect for the person and authority of bishops was deep and sincere. His appreciation of the key role that bishops played in the reform of their dioceses stirred him, even before his appointment to the famous "Council of Conscience," to see that only the most worthy priests were elevated to the episcopacy.  One of these priests who blossomed under Vincent's mentorship was Nicolas Pavillon (1597-1677). A member of the "Tuesday Conferences" in Paris, Pavillon was appointed to the See of Alet in 1637. Although reluctant to accept his appointment, Pavillon eventually did so at Vincent's urging. He made his retreat in preparation for his episcopal ordination at Saint-Lazare, and was ordained there on 22 August 1639.

Pavillon arrived in Alet and threw himself into its reform. Vincent de Paul had the highest respect for Pavillon's efforts and accomplishments and held him up as the example of a model bishop. At the beginning of the New Year in 1648 he wrote to the bishop, "More and More, Excellency, I hear about the blessing God is giving to your leadership, so completely apostolic and diffusing everywhere such sweet perfume that my poor heart cannot contain the joy it experiences from this. I ask Our Lord to continue to be glorified by it."

Pavillon, for his part, continued to esteem Vincent and relied on his advice and assistance. For example, in 1645 he wrote to Vincent, "Divine Providence has called you, for its greater glory, to the care of the most important ecclesiastical affairs of this kingdom and has long inspired you with such great zeal for procuring on occasion the reform of good order and discipline in the Church…"

In 1651, as the Jansenist struggles began to emerge in the French Church, Pavillon was among a small number of French bishops who refused to sign a request for a Roman condemnation. These bishops thought the condemnation was premature and unwarranted. This stance cast a shadow over the relationship of the bishop and Vincent de Paul, and was in particular the cause of some pain to Vincent. Pavillon remained closely tied to Jansenist opinions until his death.

The present volume is a Tridentine sacramentary and ritual issued by Pavillon for the diocese of Alet in 1667. One hallmark of a reforming bishop was always attention to implementing the Tridentine liturgical decrees.


1Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, Vol. 3. (Brooklyn, NY: New City, 1992), 157.
2Ibid., 260.
3Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, Vol. 2. (Brooklyn, NY: New City, 1989), 586-587. 


St. Vincent’s Reading List is a recurring blog series exploring texts known to have been read and recommended by Saint Vincent de Paul, those which can be presumed to have been read by him, and  works published during his lifetime (1581-1660) illustrating his world. All materials discussed are held by DePaul University’s Richardson Library. The entire series may be viewed here.



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