Intérieur de la cathédrale de MendeIntérieur de la cathédrale de Mende.Vue sur la nef et le chœur.
©Intérieur de la cathédrale de Mende.Vue sur la nef et le chœur.|C. Nouet - OTI Mende
The most illustrious bishops of Mende

The bishops of Mende

There are many famous bishops who have succeeded one another in Mende.
Here is a brief list of the most illustrious of them



3rd century

While the title of bishop may not be appropriate at a time when the Christian community in Gévaudan must have numbered just a few dozen people, his place in Mende’s history is immense.
It was his tomb, and the relics it contained, that gave rise to the town.
Miracles performed on the spot gave rise to a pilgrimage.
The reception of the many pilgrims structured a city around the tomb, certainly located on the site of today’s cathedral.

In the Middle Ages

  • Aldebert III du Tournel (1153-1187): He pledged allegiance to King Louis VII of France in 1161. In return, he obtained full powers over Gévaudan and the title of Count-Bishop. To him we owe the ramparts, whose layout still marks the town’s urban planning.
  • Guillaume V Durand (1285-1296): Nicknamed the “Speculator”, in reference to his Speculum judiciale. This work, whose translated title is Miroir du droit, is one of the most widely distributed works of the Middle Ages. He died in Rome, and his tomb can be found in the church of Santa-Maria-Minerva beneath a beautiful enfeu (architectural niche containing a burial) decorated with a mosaic in which the deceased is presented to the Virgin and Christ by St. Privat and St. Dominic.
  • Urbain V (1368-1370): At the time Pope in Avignon, Urbain V, a native of Gévaudan, reserved the bishopric for himself on the death of Pierre II D’Aigrefeuille.
    The aim of this operation was to allocate the revenues devolved to the bishop to the construction of a new cathedral. Urbain V is thus the founder of the great Gothic cathedral as we know it today.

Bishops Della Rovere


The Della Rovere family is a great Genoese family.

It supplied two popes to the Church: Sixtus IV (1471 to 1483) & Julius II (1503 to 1513) as well as several cardinals and bishops.
Among them, four members of the Della Rovere family succeeded to the bishopric of Mende in the late 15th and early 16th

While the first member of this family on the episcopal throne of Mende was Pierre Riario, his episcopacy lasted only a few months and he never came to Mende.

We have chosen to focus on his cousin Julien Della Rovere and the latter’s two nephews: Clement and François.

Julien (1478-1483) never came to Mende, a fairly common practice at the time, since his ambition was to become Pope. This he achieved in 1503.
He is known, among other things, for having commissioned Michelangelo to create the Sistine Chapel vault.

In 1483, he stepped down in favor of his nephew Clément (1483-1504) who, after two years, came to take possession of his diocese.
He was the one to complete the construction of the cathedral’s nave, but also the one to put an end to the claims of Mende’s burghers to gain control over the city.

Elected cardinal by his uncle, he ceded his position to his brother François (1504-1524).
The latter built the cathedral’s two bell towers, whose asymmetry bears witness to the conflicts between a very present bishop – he died in the Château de Balsièges, a few kilometers from Mende – and canons jealous of their power and influence.

For 46 years, the diocese was therefore administered by 3 members of this same family.

From the 17th century to the present day

  • Sylvestre de Crecy de Marcillac (1628-1659): It was under his episcopacy that the cathedral’s reconstruction was completed. He donated to the cathedral its great organs designed by André Eustache of Marseille, the finest organ builder of the 17th century.
  • François Placide de Baudry de Piencourt (1677-1707): Great benefactor of the cathedral (stalls, Aubusson tapestries…) he was also the founder of the hospital, which operated until 1970.
  • Gabriel Florent de Choiseul-Beaupré (1723-1767): He is remembered for his “Mandement”, a speech he gave on December 31, 1764 to mobilize the inhabitants in the face of the notorious Beast of Gévaudan!
  • François Narcisse Baptifolier (1889-1900): While the project to complete the western façade was launched by his predecessor, it was Mgr Baptifolier who led the work, which was completed with the creation of the neo-Gothic porch six years after his death in 1906.