Desservants a name given in the Church of France to such of the Roman Catholic clergy as have charge of churches or chapels subordinate to the parish church. The old French law distinguishes between parish churches (parochiales eclesiae) and auxiliary churches (succursales ecclesiae), and the clergy- men supplying the latter were under the orders of the parishpriest (Du Cange, Gloss, s.v.) When Bonaparte restored the Roman Catholic Church in France, he provided for the stipend of the pastors (curés) out of the government funds; it became therefore desirable to reduce their number as much as possible. It was settled that there should be one for every district subject to a justice of the peace, and that the subordinate churches (succursales) should be supplied with what priest they required on condition that these priests should be chosen among those who had pensions, by means of which, together with what their congregations would give them, they could support themselves. Two decrees, dated May 31, 1804, and Dec. 26, 1804, granted to the desservants a stipend of 500 francs. The desservants firmly established themselves in their respective fields of labor, and came, in fact, to differ only from the curates or pastors in having a smaller salary, and being more under the control of the bishops. This control they tried to escape, but their efforts met with but little success. Pope Gregory XVI decided in favor of the existing order of things. The bishops never remove a desservant from his parish except for grave reasons. The desservants form the greater part of the Roman Catholic clergy of France, Belgium, and Rhenish Prussia. See Sibour, Institutions diocesaines par Mgr. l'eveque de Digne (Paris, 1845; Digne, 1848), etc.; Jacobson, in Herzog, Real-Encyklopadie, 3, 330.

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