embrace pastoral duties. Moreover, ordinations of new priests remained far below ancien regime levels. A distinct shift occurred: nineteenth-century clerical recruits came disproportionately from the countryside, and clerical shortages became an ongoing problem in certain areas, most notably the Paris Basin.
The disparities in clerical recruitment suggest a second profound problem for the post-Concordat church. Side-by-side with renewed religious fervour, the early 1800s witnessed decline in religious practice. For some, revolutionary anticlericalism held lasting resonance. For others, the Revolution exacerbated a drift away from weekly worship, already begun in the ancien régime. A division emerged within Catholicism between those who practised their faith regularly and those who remained Catholic but rarely entered a church building. 'Faith is being lost . . . France is decatholicizing itself, lamented one vicar-general in the diocese of Soissons in 1813.8 It is inordinately difficult to measure religiosity, but it is clear that regional and gender-based variations in practice emerged and grew over the early 1800s. As Timothy Tackett has argued, the divisive experience of the oath of 1791 was one crucial factor influencing regional religious culture: the areas that rejected the oath correlate surprisingly well with regions of strong allegiance to Catholicism into the modern era. Much of the Massif-Central, Alsace-Lorraine, and the west, especially Brittany, became known for religious fervour, while Limousin, parts of southeastern France, the Loire valley, and the Paris Basin experienced a decline in observance.
Likewise, a movement towards the feminization of religion had begun in the ancien régime, and circumstances during the Revolution and empire heightened this trend. Napoleon provided secular secondary education only for boys, and the army exposed massive numbers of young men to anticlericalism. In contrast, most girls received all their schooling from the female congregations that were founded or revived during the empire. As Claude Langlois has shown, the Napoleonic era set a pattern that escalated over the course of the nineteenth century: female religious orders grew at spectacular rates, with 12,300 members in 1808, 15,000 in 1815, and 104,000 by 1861. The Revolution had sparked the fervour and the audacity of many Catholic women, both lay and religious. For example, when priests were scarce in the 1790s, Anne Marie Rivier virtually took on the role of cure in her village, leading worship and opening schools. She later founded the Presentation de Marie, which became the largest teaching congregation in the south-east by the end of the empire. For countless less well-known women, the church became a central arena of sociability and social activism that fit well with the developing codes of domesticity.
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