Vatican: A new French ambassador to the Holy See

Florence Mangin, ENA graduate, French Ambassador to Portugal since May 9, 2019, becomes the second woman to hold the post of Ambassador at Villa Bonaparte. Aged 63, the French diplomat knows Italy after having been Minister Counselor at the French Embassy in Rome from 2004 to 2008.

Based at the Embassy of Portugal, she was Director for Continental Europe at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2015 to 2019. She was also, in 2014 and 2015, Coordinator for Cybersecurity and Public Data to the Secretary General of the ministry. Foreign Affairs. From 2009 to 2012, she served as Ambassador to the United Nations and international organizations in Vienna.

This is an opportunity to recall one of the functions of the French Ambassador to the Holy See: the management of the “pious establishments” of France in Italy.

The Pious Establishments of France in Rome and Lorette are an institution heir to the pious foundations of French origin that existed in Rome and Lorette since the Middle Ages. It was during the Carolingian period that the first brotherhoods and communities were created, made up of French people, clerics or lay people, residing in the Eternal City.

These Breton, Lorraine, Franche-Comté or French brotherhoods had a church and local premises for the accommodation of the sick and the poor of the colony as well as for pilgrims. Throughout the period preceding the revolution, these national brotherhoods and their churches had a distinct existence and management.

But the upheavals caused by the French Revolution put an end to this autonomy. Pope Pius VI by a pontifical brief of 1793 united in a single administration the different foundations and institutions and charged Cardinal de Bernis, who had been French ambassador to the Holy See for 25 years, to administer the different foundations in the naming: “Visitor of all the establishments of Rome and of the ecclesiastical state.

After the Italian campaign, the instructions given by Napoleon Bonaparte to Cardinal Fesch, his uncle, ambassador in Rome, included this statement: “One of your Eminence’s first cares will be to protect the religious foundations which France enjoys in Rome.

In 1801, under the Treaty of Tolentino, these establishments came under the authority of the French ambassador. An ordinance from the Duke of Blacas, French Ambassador to Rome in 1816 and approved in 1817 by King Louis XVIII, establishes the union of these foundations into a single body.

After the capture of Rome in 1870, the King of Italy confirmed the maintenance of this situation by a decree, followed in 1875 by an exchange of letters: “nothing has changed with regard to charitable institutions for the benefit of foreigners …”.

Everything was called into question in 1940 with the entry of Italy into the war against France: the Pious Establishments were placed in sequestration. This will be lifted in 1943, following the intervention of the Holy See.

In 1956, Ambassador Wladimir d’Ormesson established the regulations in force, approved by a papal brief from Pius XII on September 8 of the same year. The attribution of some of these properties, such as the conventual complex of Trinité-des-Monts, has been the subject of bilateral international agreements between France and the Holy See since 1828.

They now include five churches and their outbuildings: La Trinité des Monts, Saint Louis of the French, Saint Nicolas of the Lorrains, Saint Yves of the Bretons, Saint Claude of the Francs-Comtois of Burgundy, La Chapelle Nationale de La France in Lorette. There are also investment properties in Rome.

The primary vocation of this institution, in accordance with the testamentary provisions of its many legatees, is to maintain the religious communities that serve its five churches (the Saint-Louis community, the convent and presbytery of the Trinité des Monts, the National Chapel of France to Lorette).

The Pious Establishments also have the mission of welcoming French-speaking pilgrims to Rome. This institution of Pious Establishments evolves according to the expectations of pilgrims and, on the occasion of the Holy Year 1975, results in the creation of the Pastoral Center Saint-Louis de la France and the Maison d’accueil Saint-Joseph de la Trinity. of the mountains.

Beyond that, the Etablissements Pieux contribute to promoting France in Rome by organizing cultural events (seminars, concerts, etc.) and by publishing books.

The Pious Establishments are placed under the authority of the Ambassador of France to the Holy See. The ambassador is assisted in supervising the temporal administration by twelve French notables domiciled in Rome, half ecclesiastical, half lay, forming a consultative assembly, called the General Congregation, which meets under his presidency.

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