reorganized in Lorraine, in 1630, and rapidly spreading not only in France, but in Bohemia and Poland as well, where they gave assistance to the parish clergy.
The mendicant orders appear somewhat more removed from these reforming impulses, with the notable exception of the Carmelites. The decalced reforms of Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross were welcomed in France with the establishment in 1611 of a male branch of the Carmelites, a group which would have a profound effect on religious life in France in the seventeenth century.
Already 'reformed', so to speak, were those new congregations of regular and secular clerics, such as the Jesuits and the Oratorians, who arrived and spread through France between the second half of the sixteenth century and the first decades of the seventeenth. The Jesuits were long opposed by the universities, the parlements, and the bishops who defended the Gallican traditions. The Oratorians, by contrast, were more readily integrated into French society.
However, despite their active presence, the religious orders in France would never assume the role they acquired in Spain, Italy, and those areas which experienced a Catholic re-conquest in the Habsburg monarchy and Poland. The French church was never dominated by religious orders - notwithstanding the major contributions of certain eminent individuals and reformed congregations. It was rather a church dominated by bishops and the secular clergy, and by those previously mentioned companies or congregations of priests who were dedicated to parish and missionary work. If anything, the impact of the French religious orders would be felt primarily outside Europe, where the work of the Capuchins, Dominicans, and Carmelites in the Levant; of the Jesuits in Canada and China; and of the priests of the Missions étrangères from 1664 onwards, would contribute to furthering the diffusion of Catholic Christianity and promoting a French presence in the Near and Far East and the New World.
A particularity of religiosity in France can be seen in the new engagement of women in religious life and society, in a context which was more dynamic than that of either Spain or Italy. In the course of the seventeenth century, women were able to choose an active religious and social mission within the framework of open congregations with simple vows which sprang up during the century. Such congregations included the Daughters of Charity, founded in 1634 by Saint Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac, and the congregation of Notre Dame, under the Augustinian rule. The latter was launched in Lorraine by Saint Pierre Faurier and Mother Alix Le Clerc in 1597, and quickly spread throughout France, serving primarily in the education of middle-class girls.
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