Spiritual, living cathedral

François Richard, Cardinal

He was archbishop of Paris from 1886 until his death in 1908. Under his episcopate, he actively defended religious congregations. Due to his views, he suffered anticlerical dissent and the separation of Church and State in 1905 (he was expelled from his position as archbishop on 17 December 1906). In 1893, he prayed to Notre Dame de Paris in the following terms during ceremonies to commemorate the profanations the cathedral suffered in 1793:

Prostrate at the foot of your ancient statue, Immaculate Mother of God, we take pleasure in praising you in the name of Notre-Dame de Paris.

In this veritable basilica, for many centuries, our fathers invoked your name; the Saints of France, and the most illustrious Saints of other lands, knelt before you here; it is here that France was solemnly given over to you by one of her kings.

This church has been associated with all the joys and sorrows of our nation: here, we have celebrated our most glorious triumphs, we have mourned our greatest disasters. During the time of our most reprehensible straying, we replaced the cult of sacrilege with the adoration of your Son Jesus; and, when you granted us mercy, your people came back to your feet to recognise you as its Mother and its Queen.

O, our Lady of Paris in the name of all these memories, in the name of the maternal love you have always had for Paris and for France, we pray that you will keep in our souls the love of Jesus Christ and His Church! Defend us from the spread of impiety and vice;
allow us to remain your children who love you! Give us Saints who will return to us the faith and virtue of days gone by.

O Queen, O Mother, kneeling before your image, at the very spot where the Saints, our fathers, and the protectors of our France, so often invoked your name, we hope to pray as they did, and to live and to die as they did. Answer our prayers! Amen.

15 August 1893

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