Bernis Francois Joachim De Pierre De
Bernis Francois Joachim De Pierre De a celebrated French ecclesiastic, was born at St. Marcel of Ardeche, May 22, 1715. Being of one of the more ancient families of Languedoc, he was, as younger brother, designed for the ecclesiastical profession. He was a brilliant student at the College of Louis the Great, then at the Seminary of St. Sulpice. Despairing of obtaining a benefice, he went out into the world at the age of nineteen, with the title of abbot, without fortune, but full of confidence. His agreeable manners and pleasing appearance aided him in winning his way, and his parentage gained for him an entrance to the best circles of society. In 1744 he was elected member of the French Academy. In 1748 he left the chapter of the counts of Brionde, in order to enter that of the counts of Lyons. He was made ambassador to Venice. Called to France, he entered the grand council and beGcame minister of foreign affairs. Having assisted in the alliance of France and Austria, he was reproached, but afterwards justified in the matter. Madame de Pompadour, who had formerly been his friend, and had secured for him a lodgment at the Tuileries and 1500 francs pension from the king, having become his enemy, he preferred to retire to the Abbey of Vic-sur-Aisne, near Soissons. Bernis was elected commander of the order of St. Esprit during his ministry. Pope Clement XIII made him cardinal in spite of the hatred which Madame de Pompadour bore for him, and he was afterwards made archbishop of Albi after the death of Madame de Pompadour. In 1769 he was sent as ambassador to Rome, and there sought the destruction of the Jesuit order. He was the Nestor of the political circles, and the king of Naples secured his presence under such circumstances as to render his counsel of great value, and he was loaded with honors on all sides. Gustavus III of Sweden held an intimate correspondence with him up to the time of his death. Refusing the oath which was at that time exacted of ecclesiastics, and which he believed incompatible with his former vows, he was obliged to resign his position, and his annuity of 400,000 pounds; but so highly was he honored for this, that a pension was obtained for him from the king of Spain. He died at Rome, Nov. 1, 1794. His family and the French legation made for him a mausoleum, from the model of that of the cardinal Orsini, and his body was carried.to Nismes. Another monument was erected in the Church of St. Louis at Rome, containing his heart and entrails. Besides the letters of Bernis 4to Paris Duverny, a small volume has been collected of his Euves Melees en Prose et en Vers. His style is simple, but not wanting in elegance. His poem of La Religion, which has reached several editions, is as noteworthy for the principles expressed as for the talent. His nephews — among whom we mention M. the viscount Raymond of Bernis, superior officer of the cavalry, — born in 1815 — have in their possession the memoirs and various unpublished articles of this illustrious cardinal. See Hoefer, Nouv, Biog. Generale, s.v.; Biog. Universelle, s.v.