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Affre, Denis-Auguste

Affre, Denis-Auguste (1793-1848), archbishop of Paris, 1840-48. After the bishop of Arras turned down the appointment to succeed Hyacinthe-Louis de Quélen as archbishop of Paris, Affre, the chief vicar-general, was named to the post. The new bishop had been almost unknown outside clerical circles, but beginning in 1840 Louis-Phillippe had a policy of making ecclesiastical appointments more democratic. The Gallican Affre's appointment to succeed the legitimist Quélen was thus symbolic.

He joined other Catholic liberals in promoting educational and social reform. In 1845 he established the Ecole des Carmes, a school for advance inst ruction which evolved into the Institut catholique de Paris in 1875. He also established an insurance plan in his diocese.

Affre hoped that the February revolution of 1848 would lead to improvement in the conditions of workers and also guarantee religious freedom. The first days saw cooperation between church and insurgents. After sacking the Tuileries, workers took sacred items from the chapel to the Church of St. Roch, the national guard bore its colors to the archbishop for his blessing, and Aff re sang a Te Deum for the new order. On March 6 he formally presented to Jacques-Charles Dupont de l'Eure, president of the provisional government, the support of his clergy.

During the June Days, Affre attempted to bring about a truce. Dressed in the robes of the office and wearing his episcopal cross, Affre went into the streets. He was well received but a stray shot at a barricade in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine struck him and he died the following day despite aid from both the worker s and members of the guard.

Patrick J. Harrigan


Alazard, L. Denis-Auguste Affre (Paris, 1905)

Duveau, Georges. 1848: The Making of a Revolution, trans. Anne Carter (New York, 1967).

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