Archbishop of Aix from 1802 to 1810
Jérôme-Marie Champion de Cicé was born at Rennes on September 4, 1735. Ordained to the priesthood in 1761, he was bishop of Rodez from 1770 to 1781 and archbishop of Bordeaux from 1781 to 1801. He emigrated to England during the French Revolution. After the Concordat of 1801, he was archbishop of Aix and Arles from 1802 to 1810.
Upon his return from exile in 1802, Eugene immediately made the acquaintance of the archbishop and became friends with him. Father Rey writes: “His contacts with Bishop de Cicé took on the character of the relationship of a most devoted son with a father truly worthy of his total trust. His administrative duties [the prisons] had made these contacts frequent, requiring closer collaboration. The Bishop had developed a special affection for him. He often invited him to dine with him and called him his son.” (Mgr de Mazenod I, p. 82)
Eugene’s letters do not fully confirm these affirmations. We do, however, learn that he was received by Bishop de Cicé already in the month of November of 1802 shortly after his return, and in 1807 with regard to his work in the prisons. He found that the bishop was a good administrator because on several occasions during his life he alludes to measures taken by the archbishop in Aix and in Marseilles.
In 1808, Eugene informed the Archbishop about his plans to go to the seminary and received his approval. The archbishop even gave him a letter of recommendation to be presented to Father Emery, “which,” Bishop de Mazenod wrote later, “credited me with his friendship and which offered to my worthy superior a picture inspired by an exaggerated prejudice in my favour.” (Bishop de Mazenod to the Sulpician Faillon, August 29, 1842)
In 1809, Mrs. de Mazenod who was invited from time to time to dine with Bishop de Cicé tried to convince him to recall Eugene to Aix after two years at the seminary. The archbishop limited himself to the observation that this decision was for Eugene and Mr. Emery to make. (LEFLON, I, p. 325-326)
During his summer vacation at Aix at the beginning of the summer of 1810, Eugene visited Bishop de Cicé who was gravely ill and who died on August 22 at the age of 74.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.