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The tomb of de La Rochefoucauld in the Abbey of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, France.
This article is about the Catholic Cardinal de La Rochefoucauld. For the French noble and writer, his great-nephew, see François de La Rochefoucauld (writer)

François de La Rochefoucauld (8 December 1558 – 14 February 1645) was a French Cardinal and an "important figure in the French Counter Reformation church".[1]


He was one of four sons of Charles de La Rochefoucald and Fulvie Pico della Mirandola. After his father died when he was three years old, the family returned to the household of Queen Caterina de Medici of France.

Coat of Arms of François de La Rochefoucauld, Cardinal of the Holy Catholic Church

La Rochefoucauld attended the Jesuit Collège de Clermont (later renamed Lycée Louis-le-Grand by Louis XIV) in Paris from 1572-1579. On 29 July 1585 he was appointed bishop of Clermont, though he needed special Papal dispensation for not meeting all the usual canonical criteria. He was not formally a Jesuit at this time.

He received the red hat of a Cardinal in 1607, and the title of Cardinal-Priest of San Callisto on 1 February 1610 at the age of 51, shortly before moving to the See of Senlis. From September 1618 until 6 February 1632 he was Grand Almoner of France, and during this period was named papal commissioner for the reform of the old religious orders in France on 8 April 1622. He was President of the Royal Council from 1622 until his replacement by Cardinal Armand Richelieu in 1624.

Another long-term appointment was as abbot of Sainte-Geneviève between 1619 and 1644. In February of 1619, Louis XIII appointed de La Rochefoucauld to Sainte-Geneviève in an effort to mitigate the effects of previous canons. The canons had been lax and Cardinal Rochefoucauld selected Charles Faure to follow out his wishes for reform.

By 1635, La Rochefoucauld had tired of the cardinalate, and perhaps of the politics of the Church at that time, and wished to end his life not as a cardinal but as a simple member of the Jesuits. He communicated his desire to resign the cardinalate and enter the Jesuits to the current General of the Society, Father Muzio Vitelleschi. Vitelleschi obtained the consent of Cardinal Barberini, but Pope Urban VIII turned down the request.

La Rochefoucauld remained a cardinal until the end of his life at 86 years of age, on 14 February 1645, at his old abbey at Sainte-Geneviève. Father Vitelleschi took the cardinal's Jesuit vows on his deathbed. La Rochefoucauld was buried in a Jesuit habit in the chapel of Saint Jean-Baptiste, but his heart was deposited in the church of a Jesuit college. In his testament, the cardinal had left not only his books but also his heart to the Collège de Clermont.


  1. ^ Yale University Press review of Bergin's book

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