Congregationists, or Apostolical Congregation
Congregationists, or Apostolical Congregation a designation of the Ultramontane party in France, which, under the reign of Napoleon I, resumed the direction of primary instruction, and established religious associations. After the restoration of the Bourbons, the power of the Congregationists increased rapidly, and they made extraordinary efforts to bring back the Church of France under the dominion of Rome. They usurped the control of public instruction, established colleges and seminaries, connected themselves with the Jesuits, and even gained the control of the police of Paris. Their leaders held the highest stations at court. The material means of the Congregation were to a large extent furnished by the laboring classes (in 1826 there were 500,000 persons contributing each one cent a week). The celebrated Lamennais belonged to this party. At last their usurpation of power gave rise to the formation of a counterparty, which gradually gained strength and influence. In 1826 count Montlosier proved the existence of the Congregation to be illegal. A large number of bishops appealed to the king against the abuse of the Gallican liberties. The Congregation endeavored to excite the fanaticism of the people by sermons and tracts, but in 1827 the Higher Chamber resolved to interfere actively in putting down all Jesuitic associations, and in 1828 the control of the primary schools was given to the minister of Public Instruction. It was then decided that every teacher should declare in writing that he was not a member of any forbidden religious association, or be suspended. A large number of Congregationists left France in consequence, but their influence, which made itself felt even after their departure, was not entirely lost until the Revolution of 1830. Pierer, Universal Lexikon, 4:358.