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Guillaume de Félice - Montauban (1839 Onwards)

Visitors today that come to Montauban will be charmed by its picturesque medieval arched arcades, at night-time by the lit Pont-Vieux, or during the stifling summer months, by the sun glowing on the archetypal redbrick villas.

Montauban, thirty miles north of Toulouse, is one of the oldest of the Bastides; towns built in the medieval Languedoc, Gascony and Aquitaine, during the 13th and 14th centuries in an effort to colonise the wilderness of South-Western France.

Its quaint, languid appearance belies one of the most fought over towns of the wars of religion. Its first inklings of stability were in 1570, when it was decided under the peace-treaty of Saint-Germain to allow it to be one of four Huguenot strongholds. Despite numerous sieges, this lasted until the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, wherein the Protestants were again persecuted, and among other things, the Jesuit school shut down.

125 years later in 1810, there was a year of unusual prosperity, brought about by Napoleon extorting money from his enemies (in order for him to sign a peace treaty with them). The Protestants of the Southern provinces of France took advantage of this momentto solicit the re-establishment of the Faculty of Theology at Montauban.

Now a more permanent educational establishment, de Félice arrived in 1839, aged 35 to become the new chair “de morale chrétienne et d'éloquence sacrée” (of Christian morality and ethics) on the 2nd of May. A copy of the pamphlet handed out on the day still exists (see right)

Here, he settled down and married Josephine Rivier (1817-1869), the daughter of an aristocrat from the Félice family’s hometown of Yverdon. They had their first child a year later, Théodore (1840-91), who in later life carried on the family profession by becoming a Pastor at Orthez on the Franco-Hispanic border.

Classes ranged from 50 to 150 students at any one time, who were taught by six professors under a dean, de Félice becoming dean later in 1865. The taught course lasted five years, starting with two years in philosophy and then three in theology, though top students could be streamlined immediately to the theology class. The philosophy students were taught by two professors, teaching Greek and Latin literature, metaphysical sciences and the basic elements of mathematics and Hebrew. The four other professors lectured the theology students. Montel taught ecclesiastical history and sacred criticism, Jalaguier doctrinal theology, Monod the Old Testament in Hebrew and finally de Félice Morals and Sacred Eloquence [ethics]. Students underwent two examinations per year, in Easter and at the end of July before the summer holidays. During the final three years, students had to compose and deliver six sermons per year, as well as composing a thesis and sustaining it in public. At the end of the course they received a diploma of Bachelor in Theology, and could be recommended for consecration in the Church.

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