Above: Gaul in 481 C.E.
Image in the Public Domain
SAINT CAESARIUS OF ARLES (468/470-August 27, 543)
Roman Catholic Bishop of Arles
His feast transferred from August 27
SAINT CAESARIA OF ARLES (DIED CIRCA 530)
Roman Catholic Abbess at Arles
Her feast transferred from January 12
In this post I combine the feasts of two saints, a brother and a sister, a bishop and an abbess.
St. Caesarius of Arles was one of the greatest bishops of his generation, along with Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” and St. Gregory of Tours. St. Caesarius was religious even as a young man. His parents were not devout, however. So his decision (at age 17) to pursue monastic life did not please them. He began his life as a monk at the monastery at Lerins, where rose to a position of being in charge of discipline at the abbey. His rigorous standard displeased many of the other monks, a fact which St. Caesarius took so poorly that he began to starve himself. So the abbot removed St. Caesarius from that post and sent him to Arles for medical care. The saint had lived at Lerins for a decade, and Arles was his new home.
Restored to health, St. Caesarius became Bishop of Arles in 502, in his early thirties. He held that post he held for four decades. He earned a reputation for aiding the poor, ransoming prisoners, and performing many other good deeds. The saint founded a monastery and a convent at Arles. He also encouraged reverence for the sacraments, the frequent taking of the Eucharist, and home Bible studies. The saint also sided with St. Augustine of Hippo with regard to the question of Semi-Pelagianism (the official Roman Catholic position about the relationship of divine grace and human free will in salvation in time), arguing against it. Hundreds of sermons survive to this day. Not surprisingly, they reflect the influence of St. Augustine of Hippo. And St. Thomas Aquinas read and quoted St. Caesarius of Arles favorably.
St. Caesarius wrote the first monastic rule for women in the Western Church. He appointed his sister, St. Caesaria, abbess of the convent at Arles he founded in 512. She and her sister nuns cared for the poor, the sick, and children. St. Gregory of Tours and St. Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus wrote of her favorably.
One might disagree with St. Caesarius regarding Semi-Pelagianism. I do. But that does not matter. He was a good man, a devout Christian, and a great theological mind. And he and his sister cared actively for “the least of these.” I honor these great saints.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
NOVEMBER 28, 2011 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII
you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.
Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servants
Saints Caesarius and Caesaria of Arles,
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.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59
Revised on November 20, 2016