Pavilion, Nicolas a noted French prelate, celebrated especially for his relation to the Jansenistic retreat in Paris known as "Port-Royal," and one of the ablest of the Gallican Church advocates, was born in Paris Nov. 17, 1597. Even as a boy he displayed purity of character seldom seen in youth, and as a student was all that the most exacting could expect. Gifted with remarkable intellectual power, he was the favorite of St. Vincent de Paul, his confessor, who employed Pavilion, as soon as his age would permit, in different missions, and finally placed him at the head of the assemblies of charity and the conferences of St. Lazare. Pavilion had great misgivings about assuming any responsibility, and did not enter the priesthood until he was thirty years of age, and then, without being attached to any parish, devoted himself to the exercises of the holy ministry by assisting different curates, especially in the pulpit. He had determined in his own mind never to preach at Paris, but Vincent de Paul prevailed upon him to change his mind, and in 1637 he preached at the church of St. Croix. Crowds were attracted by his eloquence and simplicity, and the city was soon in a general excitement concerning the new preacher. Cardinal Richelieu and others of distinction went to hear him, and were so pleased that he was appointed to the bishopric of Alet, and was consecrated Aug. 21, 1639, at Paris. He left that city Oct. 8, with the resolution of never more returning to it. In his diocese his predecessor, Etienne de Polverel, had maintained a conduct little edifying, and his clergy had imitated him only too well. Nicolas Pavillon set himself at work immediately for the instruction and reform of the clergy, and in consequence of his wise regulations he succeeded in remedying the most deplorable abuses. His diocese very soon changed its condition; ignorance and disorders were banished from it. In 1647 bishop Pavilion got into difficulties with the Jesuits, who refused to acknowledge his diocesan power, and from this time forward his work was more or less impaired by their opposition, which, at first confined to his own see, gradually reached the court, and he fell under a cloud, notwithstanding his devotion to the good work, and his piety and untiring industry. Thus Pavilion had founded a seminary for theological instruction, and one for lady teachers; had paid special attention to the secular school, and by his personal supervision greatly improved their condition. As he was in intimate relations with Dr. Arnauld (q.v.) and his partisans, the Jesuits accused Pavillon of heresy and disloyalty, and by every means in their power plotted his destruction. His friend, Vincent de Paul, made strenuous efforts to draw Pavilion away from his Port-Royalist associations; but Pavilion took no notice of his opponents, and unhesitatingly endorsed the good doctor. After the death of St. Vincent Pavilion pronounced against the spreading of the heretical practices in Mariolatry even more openly.
In the year 1656 Pascal brought out his Provincial Letters, and shortly after Arnauld directed to Pavilion a pamphlet on the Jansenistic propositions which had just been condemned by the Jesuitical interpretation. The result was that Pavillon was so impressed with the justice of the Jansenistic complaints that, when Pascal was replied to in the Apology for the Consuists, he felt constrained to call a provincial council (in 1658), and by it caused the Apology to be condemned as containing "doctrines false, precipitate, scandalous, and calculated to corrupt the manners and to injure the discipline of the Church" — a censure which the clergy of Paris approved. Of course such a step forever sealed the fate of the bishop of Alet. In 1661, by request of the king, an assembly of the clergy of France pronounced it incumbent upon all bishops to sign the formulary which condemned the five propositions supposed to be contained in the Jansenistic heresy. Pavillon saw in this measure not only injustice to the Jansenists, who rightly claimed that none of Jansenius's true views were embodied in it, but also against the bishops whose authority was thereby impaired. All the bishops of France looked to Pavilion to take the lead. He was not long in deciding. Aware that the king must have been moved to the measure by the intriguing Jesuits, he wrote to the king in remonstrance, but in all kindness, explaining the inconsistent action of a state like France, which had recognized the supremacy of the Church in things spiritual, yet directing her bishops how to judge of and deal with heresy. The king, unable to free himself from the influence that surrounded him, was only the more decided in his course, and in 1662 issued a royal edict for the immediate signature of the formulary. Still years passed on. In 1664 the new archbishop of Paris also demanded compliance with the king's edict. Now Pavilion could no longer hesitate as to his future course. The courageous bishop, disdaining to equivocate under such circumstances, published a mandement, June 1, 1665, in which his views as to the limits of Church authority were set forth with transparent clearness. Truths revealed by God, of which the Church is the ordained guardian, must be accepted on her testimony, with an entire subjection of the reason and of all the faculties of the mind; but with regard to other truths, not so revealed, God has not provided any infallible arbiter; so that when the Church declares that certain propositions are contained in a given book, or that such and such is the meaning of a particular author, she acts only by human knowledge, and may be mistaken. For decisions of this kind the Church cannot require positive internal belief; nevertheless the faithful are not permitted to impugn her judgments, which in all cases must be treated with submission, for the preservation of due order and discipline. The high character and saintly life of Pavilion added immense weight to his pastoral instructions. His sentiments were shared by other prelates, particularly by Henri Arnauld, bishop of Angers; Nicolas Choart de Buzanval, bishop of Beauvais; and Francois de Caulet, bishop of Pamiers; these issued mandements of precisely similar import, as did also the bishops of Noyon and Laon; but the two latter, on receiving notice of the displeasure of the court, retracted, and adopted a tone of exact accordance with the papal bull. An arret of the council of state, July 20, canceled the mandements of the four refractory bishops, and forbade the clergy to obey them. It was determined to take judicial proceedings against the prelates who had thus boldly constituted themselves the apostles of Jansenism; but this was an affair of considerable delicacy and difficulty. According to Roman jurisprudence, the pope was the sole judge of bishops; on the other hand, it was one of the most cherished of the Gallican liberties that bishops in France could only be tried, in the first instance, before their metropolitan and his comprovincials. Application having been made to the pope on the subject by the French ambassador at Rome, his holiness proposed to name the archbishop of Paris and two other prelates as delegates for hearing the cause; but the king decidedly objected to this method of adjudication, as an invasion of the privileges which he was bound to defend. After a tedious negotiation, it was at length arranged that the pope should nominate a commission of nine prelates to proceed to the trial of their colleagues; that seven should be competent to act; that the president should have power to appoint substitutes in the room of those who might decline to act; and that the accused should not be at liberty either to challenge the judges or to appeal from their decision. The mandements of the four bishops were at the same time denounced by a decree of the Congregation of the Index; upon which the bishops of Languedoc wrote to the king in terms of energetic remonstrance against the encroachments of the court of Rome on the rights of the episcopate, and Louis replied by assuring them that he would alwavs uphold their lawful jurisdiction and the liberties of the Gallican Church. The prosecution of the bishops was suspended by the death of Alexander VII, which occurred May 20, 1667. Cardinal Giulio Rospigliosi, who succeeded him under the name of Clement IX, was known to be of moderate opinions, and disposed to a pacification; and measures were immediately concerted in France for taking advantage of this favorable change of circumstances. It was proposed that the bishops, without being required to retract their mandements, should sign the formulary afresh, as if they had taken no steps in the matter before, and should cause it to be signed by their clergy; but any explanatory remarks which they might wish to make should be made by a process-verbal at their diocesan synods, such written statements not to be published, but to be deposited in the registry of each diocese; and that they should afterwards join in a letter to the pope, informing him of this new act of dutiful submission to his authority. This expedient was approved by the nuncio. accepted on his recommendation by the pope, and ultimately adopted. The bishop of Alet .proved for some time intractable. Courier after courier was dispatched to urge him to compliance, but in vain. At last, persuaded that the peace of the Church would be maintained by his submission, he yielded to the importunate entreaties of the bishop of Comminges, Antoine Arnauld, and other friends, and appended his signature, Sept. 10, 1668. The other prelates assented without difficulty, and the matter was forever closed. In 1675 Pavilion was involved anew in conflict with the state authority. By the decree of the crown. ratified by Parliament, declaring the law of Regale in general force, in 1673 the question had been forced home to Pavillon whether he would suffer in his own diocese appointments by the crown while he was at the head of the see. The treasurership of his cathedral was conferred in 1679 in Regale upon a young ecclesiastic of Toulouse, who in the absence of the bishop came to take possession. When Pavilion returned, he prohibited this appointee from assuming the duties of the office; and when he appealed to the archbishop of Paris to assist him against the court at which the appointee had sought redress, Pavilion was unfavorably replied to, and he found himself obliged to stand in his own strength. In March, 1676, he published an ordinance against the intrusion of any person into any benefice or dignity in virtue of the Regale. Of course a decree of the ecclesiastical council of Paris, readily granted upon request of the crown, set aside Pavillon's ordinance; and though the good bishop wrote to the king, and pleaded for the rights of the Church as he interpreted them, his position was condemned, and he was only suffered to remain in his see by reason of his great age. He died Dec. 8, 1677. Pavilion published a sort of "Compendium Theologicum," which he entitled Rituel a l'usage du Diocese d'Aleth (Paris, 1667, 4to, and often), and which was designed especially for his own diocese. It was published anonymously; and, as it was attributed to Arnauld, it was condemned at Rome by a decree of April 9, 1668, though it surpassed anything that had previously appeared for clear statements of doctrine and sound Christian instruction. Pavilion published in July following a pastoral letter against this brief, and, notwithstanding the anathemas, he had his book printed again, adding to it the approvals of twenty-nine French prelates.. The ritual continued to be observed in the diocese of Alet, and was extensively circulated throughout France. The death of pope Clement only a few months later terminated this unpleasant affair, especially as the casuists could get no encouragement from the new pope, Innocent XI, who became a most ardent admirer of Pavilion. Indeed, our good prelate was highly esteemed by all honorable characters, for he was a brave defender of the Christian doctrine of grace, maintained strictly the rules of Christian morality, and protected, or strove to protect, the rights and immunities of the Church. Other works by bishop Pavilion are, Ordonnances et Statuts Synodaux (Toulouse, 1670; Paris, 1675, 12mo): — Lettre ecrite au Roi (1664, 4to). There was a question of the royal prerogative to which Pavilion refused to submit; and this letter, upon the charge of the general counsellor Talon, was suppressed by a decree of the Parliament of Paris of Dec. 12, 1664. See Vie de If. Nicolas Pavillon, eveque d'Aleth (Saint Hiel, 1738, 3 vols. 12mo); Necrologe de Port-Royal, p. 464; Mrs. Schimrelpenninck, Select Memoirs of Port- Royal; Life of Nicolas Pavilion, by a Layman of the Church of England (Oxf. and Lond. 1869, 12mo): Jervis, Hist. of the Church of France, 1:465 sq.