Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Luxembourg
|Archdiocese of Luxembourg|
Archidiocèse de Luxembourg
|Metropolitan||Direct subject to |
|Area||2,586 km2 (998 sq mi)|
|(as of 2013)|
|Part of |
Worldwide distribution of Catholics
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Luxembourg (
Christianity spread in Luxembourg from the city of Trier, along the Roman roads. The episcopal organisation of the area started in the late 3rd century with Euchaire and Maximin of Trier, and in the early 4th century, Materne of Cologne. The Christianisation of rural areas only came much later. Rural populations remained strangers to Christianity despite scattered islands in
After the baptism of the Frankish king
Under the Carolingians, the Frankish church's reorganisation went underway, and the evangelisation of the area of Luxembourg was facilitated by the official recognition of Christianity. Missionaries from Aquitaine, Ireland and England helped in this.
The work of these missionaries was complemented by the foundation of monasteries in the 7th and 8th centuries:
In the Germanic part of the region, the work of
The abbey of Echternach saw an extraordinary development, and continued to enjoy protection by rulers after the death of its founder. Its spiritual and artistic influence would make it one of the most important monasteries in the West. It went on to produce manuscripts, illuminated holy texts, which started to be dispersed from the 18th century. The contents of its library was estimated at 7,000 items at the times of the end of the
In the reign of Countess
The Provincial Council (Conseil provincial) exercised functions in the ecclesiastical domain. Luxembourg had the peculiarity that the bishops, the ecclesiastical authorities, resided outside of the territory. Their acts could not obtain the force of law without the approval of the Council, in the form of the "placet". The Council often made use of this to retain control of the
From the 14th century, the ruler of Luxembourg had had to consult the nobility, the clergy and the bourgeoisie, especially when asking for money: this eventually evolved into the Provincial Estates of Luxembourg. As to the clergy, contemporary sources mention specifically the sires prélats, as it was only the large abbeys that were represented, as large-scale landowners. These were the abbey of St. Maximin of Trier, which was outside of Luxembourg but owned a lot of land in the territory, as well as the abbeys of Echternach, Munster,
Luxembourg was at this time divided between six dioceses, two of which took up the lion's share of the duchy: the archdiocese of Trier and the diocese of Liège; the others were the dioceses of Metz, Verdun, Reims and Cologne.
The secular clergy at this time lived a generally unvirtuous life, lived in poverty and were under-educated. As to the regular clergy, there was a profound decadence which affected the old and established monasteries such as that of Echternach (Benedictines), Saint-Hubert (Benedictines), Orval (Cistercians), Altmünster (Benedictines) as well as more recent establishments. As in the rest of the
In the 18th century, the clergy in Luxembourg could take no substantive decision without the consent of the state. The practice of the placet allowed the government to exercise a measure of control on ecclesiastical acts. No order or pastoral letter, whether from the pope or the bishop, could be published in the duchy without the consent of the Conseil de Luxembourg. Nominations to a parish or benefice could not go ahead without the assent of the civil authorities.
The secular clergy's situation, particularly in rural areas, was not particularly healthy. The more favoured among them were educated in the theology faculties of Louvain, Trier or Cologne; the others received their education from a parish priest, who would have taught them some elements of Latin, philosophy and theology. The priests' social rank would vary greatly according to their financial situation.
The clergy's resources derived from tithes, revenues from fees for baptisms, marriages and burials, and revenues from the bouvrot, land which rural clergymen exploited as farmers of crops or livestock.
Many of them exercised the function of "curé-notaire", drafting contracts of marriage and testaments for their parishioners. This function, defined in 1586 by
The regular clergy enjoyed a higher level of prestige than the secular clergy. It was concentrated in the abbeys of Echternach, Munster, Saint-Hubert and Orval. The abbeys were large property owners in the 18th century, and built their own foundries; the abbots, alongside their spiritual role, also played a political and industrial role. Nicolas Spirlet (1715-1794), the last abbot of Saint-Hubert, specialised in producing cannons which were exported to
After the reforms of
After the 1815
From 25 December 1833 the area was entrusted to a priest, acting as
After the dissolutions of the French Revolution, new monastic orders and congregations were founded in the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Some of these still undertake social and educational work to this day, as well as being active in the pastoral and contemplative sphere: sisters of the Order of Saint Elisabeth, sisters of Saint Francis of the Divine Mercy, sisters of the Christian doctrine, sisters of the Poor Child Jesus, Lay Carmelites, Benedictine of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament; Redemptorists, Charitable Friars, Priests of the Sacred-Heart, Benedictine in Clervaux, etc.
During World War II, when Luxembourg was occupied by Nazi Germany, the Catholic Church was relatively silent. It took no public stance regarding the fate of the Jews or the Nazi regime. On the one hand, the Bishop,
The Church saw its very existence threatened as it was pushed out of public life by the
At the same time, the diocese administration remained one of very few Luxembourgish institutions that stayed intact during the war, although this was in doubt for a while, and a deportation of the Bishop was considered by the occupation authorities.
The Catholic Church in Luxembourg attempted to adapt itself to modern requirements through the 4th Luxembourg Diocesan Synod (1972-1981), following on from the
On 23 April 1988, it was raised to the rank of archdiocese, immediately subject to the Holy See.