Feast of St. Pepin of Landen, St. Itta of Metz, Their Relations, St. Amand, St. Austregisilus, and St. Sulpicius II of Bourges (January 9)   12 comments

Above:  A Map of Gaul in 628 C.E.

Faithful Christians Across Generational Lines

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SAINT AUSTREGISILUS (DIED 624)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Bourges (612-624)

who mentored

SAINT AMAND (CIRCA 584-675)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Maastricht

and ordained

SAINT SULPICIUS II OF BOURGES (DIED 646)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Bourges (624-646)

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SAINT PEPIN OF LANDEN (CIRCA 580-640)

Mayor of the Merovingian Palace (623-629, 639-640)

husband of

SAINT ITTA OF METZ (593-652)

Roman Catholic Abbess at Nivelles

sister of 

SAINT MODOALD OF TRIER (DIED 640/645)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Trier (626-640/645)

brother of 

SAINT SEVERA OF SAINT GEMMA (DIED 680)

Roman Catholic Abbess

aunt of 

SAINT GERTRUDE OF NIVELLES (626-659)

Roman Catholic Abbess

sister of 

SAINT BEGGA OF ANDENNE (615-693)

Roman Catholic Abbess

sister of

SAINT BAVO OF GHENT (622-659)

Roman Catholic Hermit

brother of 

SAINT MODESTA OF TRIER (DIED 680)

Roman Catholic Abbess

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SAINT AMALBERGA OF MAUBERGE (DIED 690)

Roman Catholic Nun

mother of

SAINT GUDULA (DIED 680/714)

Roman Catholic Nun

sister of

SAINT PHARAILDIS OF GHENT (CIRCA 650-CIRCA 740)

Holy Virgin

sister of

SAINT REINELDIS OF SAINTES (630-CIRCA 700)

Roman Catholic Martyr

sister of

SAINT EMERBERTUS OF CAMBRAI (DIED 710)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Cambrai

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This post tells the story of one extended family, a bishop who proved instrumental in sparking a chain reaction of holiness, his mentor, and another holy man whom that mentor ordained.  Each saint has his or her own feast day in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, but I have chosen to assign them a common feast day and tell one large story, not sixteen smaller ones.

St. Austregisilus (died 624) was a courtier who became a monk at Lyon then an abbot at Lyon.  Then, in 612, he became Bishop of Bourges.  He mentored St. Amand (circa 584-675), a Frankish nobleman who, at age 20, rebelled against his family’s wishes and became a monk at Bourges.  St. Amand lived under the direction of St. Austregisilus, called a simple cell home, and ate bread and drank water for fifteen years.  Made a missionary bishop without a diocese in 628, St. Amand began his work in Ghent and expanded his work across Flanders (modern-day Belgium).  He experienced much success after a period of initial fruitless labor.  St. Amand supervised the founding of monasteries, including the first one in Flanders.  Bishop of Maastricht by 649, he left that see to continue his missionary work.

St. Austregisilus ordained St. Sulpicius II of Bourges (died January 17, 646), known for devoting his life to evangelism, good works (namely charitable works to aid the poor), and the study of the Bible.  Born into a Gallic noble family, St. Sulpicius II became chaplain to King Clotaire II (reigned 584-629) before succeeding St. Austregisilus as Bishop of Bourges (624-646).

St. Pepin of Landen (circa 580-February 27, 640) served as Mayor of the Merovingian palace under Dagobert I (from 623 to 629) and Sigebert III (from 639 to 640).  He had a reputation for offering wise counsel and providing good government.  After he died his wife St. Itta of Metz (592-652), on the advice of St. Amand, founded the abbey at Nivelles and became the abbess there.  Her daughter, St. Gertrude (626-March 17, 659), succeeded her as abbess.  St. Gertrude educated her cousin, St. Gudula (died between 680 and 714), a nun, at the Nivelles abbey.  St. Gudula‘s mother was St. Amalberga (died 690), who was either the niece or sister of St. Pepin of Landen.  (The sources disagree on the nature of the relationship between the two.)  Both St. Amalberga and her husband, Witger, chose to leave luxurious lives to devote their remaining days to God and monasticism.  St Gudula returned to her home after the death of St. Gertrude and devoted herself to prayer and good works.

Sources are vague as to the parentage of Sts. Itta of Metz, Modoald of Trier, and Severa of St. Gemma, but some point toward Arnaold (circa 560-circa 611), Bishop of Metz from 601 to 609/611.  His wife had been Oda, who died no later than 584.

St. Gertrude had three sainted siblings.  St. Begga of Andenne (615-December 17, 693) became a nun then an abbess after her husband died.  She founded seven churches and build a convent a Andenne, Flanders (now Belgium).  Her brother, St. Bavo of Ghent (622-659) abandoned a disorderly and undisciplined life, gave up his material wealth, and dedicated his life to God.  He became a missionary in France and Flanders before become a hermit and building an abbey at Ghent.  His other holy sister, St. Modesta of Trier (died 680), became abbess at Trier.  Her uncle, St. Modoald of Trier (died 640/645), Archbishop of Trier from 626, appointed her to that post.  He, a counselor to King Dagobert I, was brother of St. Itta of Metz and St. Severa of St. Gemma (died 680), abbess at St. Gemma Convent, Villeneuve.

St. Gudula was one of four sainted children of St. Amalberga and Witger.  St. Pharaildis (circa 650-circa 740) entered into a loveless marriage involuntarily.  She promised her body to God, not her abusive husband, and preserved her virginity during her lifetime.  St. Reineldis (630-circa 700), her sister, devoted herself to good works at Saintes.  Unfortunately, the Huns raided the city and martyred her.  Then there was St. Emerbertus (died 710), the Bishop of Cambrai.

Details about the lives of these holy men and women are mostly sketchy now, as I write these words in late 2011.  This fact does not surprise me, for I know that many (if not most) sources meet various unhappy fates over time.  So sometimes all we know about a saint is a name, a few dates (sometimes uncertain), some stories, and a reputation for holiness.  So be it.  At least we know that much.  How much will people know about us fourteen centuries hence?

Let us now praise famous men,

and our fathers in their generations.

The Lord apportioned to them great glory,

his majesty from the beginning.

There were those who ruled in their kingdoms,

and were men renowned for their power,

giving counsel by their understanding,

and proclaiming prophecies;

leaders of the people in their deliberations

and in understanding of learning for the people,

wise in their words of instruction;

those who composed musical tunes,

and set forth verses in writing;

rich men furnished with resources,

living peaceably in their habitations–

all these were honored in their generations,

and were the glory of their times.

There are some of them who have left a name,

so that men declare their praise.

And there are some who have no memorial,

who have perished as though they had not been born,

and so have their children after them.

But these were men of mercy,

whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten;

their prosperity will remain with their descendants ,

and their inheritance to their children’s children.

Their descendants stand by the covenants;

their children also, for their sake.

Their posterity will continue for ever,

and their glory will not be blotted out.

Their bodies were buried in peace,

and their name lives to all generations.

Peoples will declare their wisdom,

and the congregation proclaims their praise.

–Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 44:1-15 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition)

The sixteen saints whose common story I have told in this post constituted a network of holiness.  May our families and personal networks likewise be holy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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Lord God,

you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.

Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servants

Saint Pepin of Landen,

Saint Itta of Metz,

Saint Modoald of Trier,

Saint Severa of Saint Gemma,

Saint Gertrude of Nivelles,

Saint Begga of Andenne,

Saint Bavo of Ghent,

Saint Modesta of Trier,

Saint Amalberga of Mauberge,

Saint Gudula,

Saint Pharaildis,

Saint Reineldis of Saintes,

Saint Emerbertus of Cambrai,

Saint Amand,

Saint Austregisilus,

and Saint Sulpicius II of Bourges,

may persevere in the course that is set before us and,

at the last, share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 9:1-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Luke 6:20-23

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Revised on November 14, 2016

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12 responses to “Feast of St. Pepin of Landen, St. Itta of Metz, Their Relations, St. Amand, St. Austregisilus, and St. Sulpicius II of Bourges (January 9)

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