In 1790, the French revolutionary government reformed the Catholic Church and demanded that clerics swear an oath of allegiance to the nation and its vision for French Catholicism. Although half of France's parish clergy refused to accept the state-sponsored reforms, others became embroiled in this decade-long ecclesiastical experiment. This included Jean-Baptiste Volfius, a patriot, priest, and professor who embraced the changes in France and believed in the revolution's potential to create a purer church.
Patriot and Priest presents a social and intellectual history of the French constitutional church in the Côte-d'Or and the career of Volfius, who became its bishop in 1791, as he struggled to create and run the church. Annette Chapman-Adisho addresses the daily experience of the constitutional clergy over the course of ten years, exploring the interactions between priests and local and national authorities, the response of the laity to the divisions in the French Catholic Church, the evolution of these issues over time, and the eventual reconciliation of the clergy following the Napoleonic Concordat with Pope Pius VII in 1801. Using a rich collection of archival sources, this book demonstrates that although the constitutional church was ultimately a failed project, its legacy had a lasting impact on the catholic Church in France.
Tracing the social, political, and theological history of this reform effort, Patriot and Priest offers new insights into the French Revolution and its impact on French Catholicism.