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Denis Auguste Affre

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Denis Auguste Affre

The Most Reverend
Denis-Auguste Affre
Archbishop of Paris
See Paris
Installed 4 June 1840
Term ended 27 June 1848
Predecessor Hyacinthe-Louis de Quélen
Successor Marie-Dominique-Auguste Sibour
Other posts Coadjutor Bishop of Strasbourg (1839-1840);
Titular Bishop of Pompeiopolis in Cilicia (1839–1840); Vicar General of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Amiens and then of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Luçon (1823-1833)
Ordination 16 May 1818
Consecration 6 August 1840
by Cardinal Hugues-Robert-Jean-Charles de la Tour d’Auvergne-Lauraquais
Personal details
Born (1793-09-28)September 28, 1793
Saint-Rome-de-Tarn, Aveyron, France
Died June 27, 1848(1848-06-27) (aged 54)
Paris, France
Buried Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, France
Nationality French

Denis-Auguste Affre (27 September 1793 – 27 June 1848), was an Archbishop of Paris who was killed while trying to negotiate peace during the uprising of the French Revolution of 1848.


Early life and career

Affre was born at Saint-Rome-de-Tarn, in the department of Aveyron. At the age of 14, he began to study for the priesthood at the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice, Paris, which was under the direction of his uncle, the Abbé Denis Boyer, S.S. He was an excellent student, and, while still a seminarian, soon became an instructor of dogmatic theology at the seminary in Nantes. In 1818, he was ordained as a Catholic priest. From 1823-1833 he served as the Vicar General, first of the Diocese of Luçon and then of Amiens. In 1839, he was appointed as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Strasbourg.[1]

The following year, Affre was elevated to the post of Archbishop of Paris. Though opposed to the government of King Louis-Philippe I, he fully accepted the establishment of the French Second Republic in 1848,[2] nevertheless he took no part in politics, but devoted himself to pastoral care. He opened new parishes in the working-class neighborhoods of the city. Among them were: Ménilmontant, Plaisance, Petit-Montrouge, Maison-Blanche, Petit-Gentilly, Notre-Dame de la Gare, Billancourt, Gros-Caillou.[3]

Affre was passionate in his determination to improve the study of theology in order to form clergy needed in the challenges which the Catholic Church faced at the time. He also was insistent on education as a human right. He opened a new seminary in Paris, called the St. Joseph of the Carmelites Seminary, on the site of a former Carmelite priory, and a school of theology at the Sorbonne.


Affre's episcopate, however, is chiefly remembered owing to its tragic close during the insurrection of June 1848.

On 23 June of that year, faced with starvation due to plans by the French government to close the National Workshops it had recently created in order to provide work to the poor, a large segment of the citizenry began rioting, setting up barricades in the streets of Paris. The crisis led to the government's handing dictatorial powers over the nation to General Louis Eugène Cavaignac, who was determined to use all force necessary to crush the rebellion and ordered the French National Guard into Paris. Seeing the carnage caused among the civilian population caused by this campaign, Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, begged Affre to intervene to stop the bloodshed. The archbishop was led to believe that by his personal involvement peace might be restored between the military and the insurgents.[4]

Accordingly, on 25 June, in spite of the warning of Cavaignac, Affre mounted the barricade at the entrance to the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, bearing a green branch as sign of peace to address both sides. He had spoken only a few words, however, when the insurgents, hearing some shots and feeling that they had been betrayed, opened fire upon the National Guard. Affre fell, struck by a stray bullet. He was taken to his palace, where he died on 27 June.[4]

On the next day, the National Assembly of France issued a decree expressing their great sorrow over Affre's death, and the public funeral held on 7 July was one of the most striking public spectacles of the period. The crowd following his cortege was estimated to have numbered about 200,000 people.

Affre was buried in the Chapel of Saint-Denis in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. His heart was removed and preserved in the chapel of the Carmelite Seminary, which he had founded. The pectoral cross which he was wearing when he was shot--seen in his portrait--is preserved by the Archdiocese of Paris as a relic.[5]

A street in the 18th arrondissement of Paris is named in his honor.[6]


Affre wrote several articles for a newspaper called La France chrétienne. Additionally he published two books to guide in the practical matters of handling Church property: Un Traité de l'administration temporelle des paroisses (Paris, 1827) and Un Traité de la propriété des biens ecclésiastiques (Paris, 1837). He also wrote a guide to studying the Christian faith, Une Introduction philosophique à l'étude du christianisme (Paris, 5th edition, 1846).


  1. ^ Grey 1913.
  2. ^ "Denis-Auguste Affre (1840-1848)". Diocèse de Paris (in Français). 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  5. ^ "Croix pectorale". Diocèse de Paris (in Français). 
  6. ^ "Saint-Bernard de la Chapelle". Diocèse de Paris (in Français). 


  • Ricard, Les grands eveques de l'eglise de France au XIXe siècle (Lille, 1893)
  • L. Alazard, Denis-Auguste Affre, archeveque de Paris (Paris, 1905)
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Hyacinthe-Louis de Quélen
Archbishop of Paris
Succeeded by
Marie Dominique Auguste Sibour
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