Archive for the ‘St. Gregory of Tours’ Tag

Feast of Sts. Radegunda and Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus (December 14)   1 comment

Above:  Venantius Fortunatus Reading His Poems to Radegonda, by Lawrence Alma-Tameda

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT RADEGUNDA (518/520-AUUST 13, 587)

Thuringian Roman Catholic Princess, Deaconess, and Nun

Her feast transferred from August 13

mentor and patron of

SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTI(AN)US FORTUNATUS (CIRCA 530-CIRCA 610)

Roman Catholic Poet, Hymn Writer, and Bishop of Poiters

His feast = December 14

Different spellings of the names of Saints Radegunda and Venantius, who have different feast days on the Roman Catholic calendar, exist.  Despite the separate feast days, one cannot properly tell the story of one saint without recounting the story of the other.   I merge the feasts here, on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, for that reason.

On a light note, perhaps you, O reader, will agree that, regardless of whether one prefers Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus or Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus, he had the best name of any saint, canonized or otherwise.  The name rolls off one’s tongue nicely.

St. Radegunda, born in 518/520, was a princess of Thuringia, in modern-day Germany.  In 531 the Franking king Clothar/Clotaire/Lothair I (reigned 511-561) conquered Thuringia and killed most of the royal family.  He forced Radegunda to marry him the following year.  This was a political move, far from a love match.  St. Radegunda led a pious and simple life; she avoided extravagance and performed many good works while she endured her marriage.  She fled from that childless union in 550, after her husband had ordered the murder of her brother, thereby ending the male line in the Thuringian royal family.  The Church protected St. Radegunda, and Médard, the Bishop of Noyon, ordained her a deaconess.

St. Venantius Honorius Clement(ian)us Fortunatus, born in Treviso, Italy, circa 530, became a great Latin poet.  He, educated in Ravenna and Milan, traveled in Gaul and southern Germany.  (Contradictory stores provided various reasons for the road trip.)  He settled in Poitiers, at the Frankish royal court, and befriended Queen Radegunda.

In 560 St. Radegunda, deaconess and a former queen, founded the Convent of the Holy Cross, the first convent in Europe, at Poitiers.  The name of the first abbess was Agnes.  St. Radegunda lived there as a nun and devoted herself to good works.  St. Venantius became a priest and served as the chaplain of the convent.  He also composed Latin hymns about topics ranging from the cross of Christ to St. Mary of Nazareth, the Mother of God.  He also wrote poetic praise of wine.  In 569 the Roman Emperor Justin II (reigned 565-574) gave the convent a piece of the alleged True Cross.  St. Venantius composed Vexilla Regis (still part of the Roman Catholic rites for Holy Week) for the occasion.

St. Radegunda died at the convent on August 13, 587.

St. Venantius became the Bishop of Poitiers in 599.  He served in that position for the rest of us life, until circa 610.

St. Venantius left behind a fine literary legacy.  He composed biographies of St. Martin of Tours, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Germanus of Paris, St. Radegunda, and other figures.  Friend St. Gregory of Tours encouraged our saint to publish his poetry.  St. Venantius did, and blessed generations of Christians.  English translations of some of those texts have included the following:

  1. “Welcome, Happy Morning;”
  2. “The Royal Banners Forward Go;”
  3. “Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle;”
  4. “See the Destined Day Arise;” and
  5. the Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost versions of “Hail Thee, Festival Day.”

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Loving God, who teaches us that we depend on you and each other,

we thank you for Sts. Radegunda and Venantius Honorius Clementi(an)us Fortunatus,

who helped each other and many others, and whose intertwined legacies have endured.

May their examples inspire us to support each other in holy living, for your glory and the common good.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11

Psalm 64

1 Corinthians 1:17-25

Luke 1:26-38

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 3, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN AND ANATOLIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCHS; AND SAINTS AGATHO, LEO II, AND BENEDICT II, BISHOPS OF ROME; DEFENDERS OF CHRISTOLOGICAL ORTHODOXY

THE FEAST OF CHARLES ALBERT DICKINSON, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF IMMANUEL NITSCHMANN, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND MUSICIAN; HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW, JACOB VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP, MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR; HIS SON, WILLIAM HENRY VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP; HIS BROTHER, CARL ANTON VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR; HIS DAUGHTER, LISETTE (LIZETTE) MARIA VAN VLECK MEINUNG; AND HER SISTER, AMELIA ADELAIDE VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN CENNICK, BRITISH MORAVIAN EVANGELIST AND HYMN WRITER

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Feast of St. Nicetius of Trier and St. Aredius of Limoges (December 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gaul in 561

SAINT NICETIUS OF TRIER (513-CIRCA 566)

Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Bishop

converted

SAINT AREDIUS OF LIMOGES (CIRCA 510-591)

Also known as Saint Yrieux of Limoges

Roman Catholic Abbot

His feast transferred from August 25

St. Nicetius of Trier (513-circa 566), born at Auvergne, Gaul, was a very important figure in the Gallic church.  He was probably related to St. Sidonius Apollinaris, Bishop of Auvergne and another major figure.  St. Nicetius, a monk then abbot at Limoges, became Bishop of Trier.  King Theodoric I of Metz (reigned 511-534) chose him over St. Gall, hardly a minor figure himself.

As Bishop of Trier St. Nicetius did much good work.  Among other things, he

  • rebuilt the cathedral and city fortifications of Trier,
  • restored discipline among his priests, and
  • founded a school for the training priests.

He was also pious, fasting often.  The bishop denounced Lothair I (reigned 511-561), King of Soissons from 511 and King of all Franks from 558, going so far as to excommunicate the monarch who had family members killed for personal gain.  Lothair exiled the bishop in 560, but the next ruler in that region of Gaul, Sigibert I of Austrasia (reigned 561-575) recalled St. Nicetius.  The bishop also criticized Byzantine Emperor Justinian I “the Great” (reigned 527-565) for being a semi-monophysite.

St. Magnericus succeeded St. Nicetius as Bishop of Trier.

St. Gregory of Tours wrote a biography of St. Nicetius of Trier. His source was St. Aredius of Limoges (circa 510-591), who had converted to Christianity under St. Nicetius.  St. Aredius, a former Chancellor to King Theudebert I of Metz (reigned 534-548), had been born into a wealthy family with connections to the late Western Roman Empire.  Raised at Vigoges monastery from boyhood, St. Aredius arrived at Metz at age fourteen.  After he let Metz St. Aredius traveled to Trier, where he met St. Nicetius.  The rest was history.  And St. Aredius served as abbot at Limoges and founded Altanum monastery.

One man’s sanctity influenced that of another.  And his example helped many others along the road to holiness.

Each of us is a link in a chain.  May this be a chain of holiness.  And may we be the strongest links possible, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND, QUEEN

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPE MOSCATI, PHYSICIAN

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O God, by whose grace your servants Saint Nicetius of Trier and Saint Aredius of Limoges,

kindled with the flame of your love, became burning and shining lights in your Church:

Grant that we may also be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light,

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723

Feast of St. Salvius of Albi (September 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Map of Gaul in 561

SAINT SALVIUS OF ALBI (DIED 584)

Roman Catholic Bishop

St. Salvius, a native of Albi, Gaul, became a lawyer then a magistrate before entering monastic life and living as a hermit.  He spent the last ten years of his life as Bishop of Albi.  As bishop the saint lived simply and aided the poor of the area.  He also ransomed prisoners of Mammolus, a patrician, at the city.  Yet the saint’s major claim to fame and holiness pertains to Chilperic I (reigned 561-584), King of Soissons.

Now I invite you, O reader, to follow the bouncing balls with me.

Gaul under Merovingian rule was Francia, seldom a unified realm.  When a king of all Franks died, his sons inherited parts of the kingdom.  They usually fought among themselves thereafter, bringing warfare to Francia.  Chilperic I was one of our sons of Clotaire/Lothair I (reigned 511-561), King of Soissons from 511 and King of all Franks from 558.  Chilperic I divorced one wife so he could marry Galeswintha, his sister-in-law.  Then he had her strangled and married his mistress, Frenegund.  Chilperic’s forces also fought those of his brother Sigibert I (reigned 561-575), King of Austrasia.  Frenegund had Sigibert assassinated, thus saving Chilperic from defeat and the loss of his realm.

Chilperic I was not a nice man.  And I have only begun to describe his perfidy.

Chilperic I also interfered with the church, trying to control it.  He committed simony when he sold bishoprics.  The king also fined young priests for not serving in the army.  And he annulled the wills of men who left large sums of money to the church.  The monarch also forbade the teaching of the doctrine of the Trinity as St. Gregory of Tours understood it.  St. Gregory, a historian on Francia, likened Chilperic I to Herod the Great and Nero.  That might have been an overreach, but harsh criticism of the monarch was justified.  The king, a pretentious man who wrote bad poetry and added four letters to the Latin alphabet, raised taxes steeply–for his own financial gain, not to benefit the kingdom.  And he did cause many people to die.

Both Sts. Gregory and Salvius opposed the offending policies and activities of Chilperic I, who increased his territory as brothers died.  Yet Chilperic began to change his mind and to back down after two of his sons died.  Maybe Sts. Gregory and Salvius proved to be persuasive.  And/or perhaps the aging monarch feared damnation.  Anyhow, he fell victim to an assassin in 584.  Next Frenegund ruled for a time as regent for their newborn son, Clotaire/Lothair II (reigned 584-629), King of Neustria from 584 and of all Franks from 613.  The price he paid for uniting Francia was to make concessions to nobles, setting the stage for the decline of Merovingian dynastic power and the rise of what became the Carolingian Dynasty.

Geeking out over French history is my right, my privilege, and a harmless activity, but now I return to the main purpose of this post–explaining the sanctity of St. Salvius.

St. Salvius, by opposing Chilperic I, placed himself at great risk, for people who proved inconvenient to the monarch ran the risk of turning up dead.  Yet the saint stood his ground while committing a host of good deeds for the benefit of people who could never repay him.  He, in fact, finished his days tending to plague victims.  His life overflowed with sanctity until the end.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGIUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, AMELIA BLOOMER, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AND HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN, WITNESSES TO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WOMEN

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Heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servant Saint Servius of Albi,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock;

and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace grow into the stature of the fullness

of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16

Psalm 23

1 Peter 5:1-4

John 21:15-17

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 718

Feast of Sts. Caesarius and Caesaria of Arles (January 14)   1 comment

Above:  Gaul in 481 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CAESARIUS OF ARLES (468/470-August 27, 543)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Arles

His feast transferred from August 27

brother of

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

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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

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.

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 20, 2016

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Feast of Sts. Gregory of Langres, Terticus of Langres, Gallus of Clermont, Gregory of Tours, Avitus I of Clermont, Magnericus of Trier, and Gaugericus (January 4)   5 comments

Above:  The Flag of Vatican City

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT GALLUS OF CLERMONT (CIRCA 489-CIRCA 553)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Clermont (527-551)

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SAINT GREGORY OF LANGRES (DIED 539)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Langres (506-539)

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SAINT TERTICUS OF LANGRES (DIED 572)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Langres (539-572)

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SAINT GREGORY OF TOURS (540-594)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Tours (573-593)

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SAINT MAGNERICUS OF TRIER (DIED 596)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Trier (566-596)

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SAINT AVITUS I OF CLERMONT (DIED 600)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Clermont

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SAINT GAUGERICUS (DIED CIRCA 625)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Cambrai then Arras (586-Circa 625)

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Each of the saints whose stories I have combined into this post has his own feast day on the Roman Catholic calendar.  This, however, is my calendar, so they share January 4 on the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

St. Gregory of Langres (died 539) was a Bishop of Langres (from 506 to 539), a civic governor of the Autun region in Gaul (now France), father of St. Terticus, the next Bishop of Langres, and great-uncle of St. Gregory of Tours.  He insisted on public order and had a reputation as a kind minister.

Of St. Terticus of Langres (died 572) we know little.  The son of St. Gregory of Langres, he was Bishop of Langres from 539 to 572 and an uncle of St. Gregory of Tours.

St. Gregory of Tours (540-594), born George Florentius, took the name Gregory to honor his great-uncle, St. Gregory of Langres.   The great-nephew served as Bishop of Tours from 573 to 593.  He wrote lives of the saints and accounts of his time.  His works continue to provide invaluable information about certain saints and Merovingian France.  He also wrote a biography of another uncle, his teacher, St. Gallus of Clermont.  The great-nephew was also a friend of St. Magnericus of Trier.

St. Avitus I of Clermont (died 600) was another friend and mentor of St. Gregory of Tours.  Avitus, while a priest at Tours, led St. Gregory of Tours in Bible studies.  Avitus also ordained St. Greogry of Tours to the diaconate.

St. Gallus of Clermont (circa 489-circa 553) served as Bishop of Clermont from 527 to 551.  Born into a Roman senatorial family, he entered a monastery at Cournon against his family’s wishes.  He received their consent in time.  The saint’s piety and intelligence commended him to Quintianus, Bishop of Clermont, who ordained him priest.  St. Gallus was a prisoner of King Theodoric I of Austrasia (mostly in modern-day Germany and Belgium) for a few years.  Then he returned to Clermont, where he succeeded Quintianus as Bishop of Clermont and defended church rights against royal encroachments.  The saint also had a reputation for great kindness and holiness.

St. Magnericus of Trier (died July 25, 596) grew up in Trier.  A friend of St. Gregory of Tours, he became a priest by the hand of Nicetius, Bishop of Trier.  King Clotaire I, excommunicated by Nicetius, exiled the bishop.  Magnericus accompanied his bishop into exile and returned one year later.  The saint became Bishop of Trier in 566.  He granted sanctuary to King Theodore of Marseilles in 585.  Guntham of Burgundy had forced Theodore into exile.  The saint interceded with King Childebert II on Theodore’s behalf.  The saint also ordained St. Gaugericus.

St. Gaugericus (died circa 625) learned the entire Book of Psalms by heart. He became Bishop of Cambrai (in 586) then Arras.  The saint convinced many people to destroy their idols and destroyed many other idols himself.  He also ransomed many prisoners.

These saints constitute a chain of holiness.  Some of them knew and/or were related to each other, but each was linked directly or indirectly to the others.  These interlocking stories teach the importance of influencing others positively.  They also tell us that the legacy of lived holiness extends generations beyond one’s life.  So may we take comfort from this reality and strive to do the best we can, empowered by God, and take courage that what we  do for God is never in vain, regardless of what appearances might indicate.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servants

Saint Gregory of Langres,

Saint Terticus of Langres,

Saint Gregory of Tours,

St. Gallus of Clermont,

St. Avitus I of Clermont,

St. Magnericus of Trier,

and St. Gaugericus,

who were faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following their examples and the teaching of their holy lives,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Revised on November 12, 2016

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