Évêque de Maëstricht et Martyr
Saint Lambert, né à Maëstricht, d'une famille princière, eut une enfance toute privilégiée. Jeune homme, il opéra des miracles, fit jaillir une source pour étancher la soif des ouvriers constructeurs d'une église, et porta des charbons ardents dans les plis de son manteau sans l'endommager. Ses vertus extraordinaires l'élevèrent, à l'âge de vingt et un ans, sur le siège épiscopal de Maëstricht.
Après avoir administré saintement son diocèse pendant plusieurs années, il en fut chassé par une révolution et se retira dans un monastère voisin, où il se mêla aux simples religieux, dont il ne se distinguait que par une grande ferveur. On raconte à ce sujet une histoire fort édifiante. Une nuit d'hiver, en se levant pour prier, il laissa tomber une de ses sandales. L'abbé, sans connaître celui qui avait fait le bruit, le condamna à aller prier au pied de la croix qui était devant l'église. Lambert obéit sans réplique et demeura trois à quatre heures à genoux, transi de froid et couvert de neige, jusqu'à ce qu'on se fût aperçu de la méprise. L'abbé et les religieux se jetèrent à ses pieds pour lui demander pardon: "Que Dieu, dit-il, vous pardonne la pensée de vous juger coupables pour cette action. Saint Paul ne m'enseigne-t-il pas que je dois servir Dieu dans le froid et la nudité?"
Il habitait depuis sept ans cette sainte maison et y goûtait les délices de la vie religieuse, quand il fut rappelé sur son siège épiscopal, à la grande joie d'un troupeau qui l'avait tant pleuré. Le soin de Lambert pour l'accomplissement des devoirs de sa charge pastorale fut plus assidu que jamais; il était le père de tous, surtout des pauvres. Sa maison ressemblait presque à un monastère; ses vêtements, très simples, recouvraient un cilice, qu'il portait sur sa chair nue. Il visitait son diocèse avec zèle, sans en excepter les parties les plus éloignées. Son amour des âmes le porta même à entreprendre la conversion des peuples païens qui n'appartenaient pas à son diocèse.
Malgré les menaces de mort, son zèle ne se rebuta point, et il eut la consolation de si bien montrer à ces populations grossières les vérités de notre sainte religion, qu'il changea leur coeur et les amena en masse dans le sein de l'Église. Il mourut enfin martyr de son zèle.
Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950
SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_lambert.html
Saint LAMBERT (LANDEBERTUS).
Martyr, Bishop of Maestricht, b. at Maestricht between 633 and 638; d. at Liège, between 698 and 701. Hisparents, who belonged to the nobility, gave him a very religious education, and chose as his preceptor St. Landoaldus, priest of the cathedral church at Maestricht. Later, Lambert received instruction from St. Theodardus(668 or 669), whom he succeeded in 670 as Bishop of Maestricht. During the calamitous days of Ebroin, Mayor of the Palace, Lambert, having defended the interests of King Childeric, was forced to flee from Maestricht. While Pharamundus administered his see, Lambert spent seven years (674-681) in the well-known Abbey of Stavelot, where he edified the monks by his saintly life. In 681 Ebroin received his well-earned retribution, and Pepin of Heristal became mayor of the palace, at first of Austrasia, but in 687 of the whole domain of the Franks. Pepin, who liked Lambert, permitted him to return to Maestricht and resume the administration of his see. Some timelater we find Lambert as a missionary in Toxandria, the Kempenland and Brabant of today. In order to spread theGospel, he descended the River Meuse as far as Tiel and laboured along its banks in company with St. Willibrord, who had come from England in 691. It is very probable that Lambert came in contact with Sts. Wiro, Plechelmus, and Otger, who had built a church and monastery on the Pietersburg, later called the Odilienberg, nearRoermond. St. Landrada aided Lambert in founding the Abbey of Munsterbilsen. For several centuries a controversy has been carried on concerning the manner of the saint's death. According to tradition, Lambertbecame a martyr to his defence of marital fidelity. The Bollandists, Mabillon, Valois, Lecointe, Pagi and others held, however, that the saint was killed by Frankish nobles in revenge for the failure of a plundering expedition.Kurth in 1876 critically examined the centuries-old tradition and, documents in hand, proved beyond furtherdoubt that Lambert was martyred because of his defence of the marriage tie. Pepin of Heristal lived for many years in irreproachable wedlock with the pious Plectrude, who bore him two sons. Later he entered into unlawfulrelations with Alpais, who became the mother of Charles Martel. When no one had the courage to remonstrate with Pepin, Lambert went to his court like another John the Baptist. Alpais, fearing that Pepin might heed theadmonitions of the saint, appealed to her brother Dodo. The latter sought revenge and caused Lambert to beassassinated in the chapel of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, built by St. Monulphus at Liège. His heart was pierced by a javelin while he was at the altar. The servants of the martyr placed his remains in a vessel, descended the Meuse to Maestricht, and buried them in the cemetery of St. Peter, in the vault of his parents, Aper and Herisplindis, beneath the walls of Maestricht. Between 714 and 723, St. Hubert exhumed the remains and had them translated to Liège, whither he had transferred, presumably as early as 723, his episcopal see. The saint'sfeast is celebrated on 17 Sept. A large number of churches have St. Lambert as their patron.
Albers, Petrus Henricus. "St. Lambert." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 15 Jul. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08757a.htm>.
Acta SS., Sept., V; STEPHANUS, Vita S. Lamberti in MIGNE, P.L., CXXXII, 643; DEMARTEAU, Vie de S. Lambert écrite en vers par Hucbald de St-Amand, et documents du Xme siècle (Liège, 1878); ALBERS, De H. Lambertus, XXe bisschop van Maastricht in Jaarboekje van Alberdingk Thym (Amsterdam, 1896); KURTH, Etude critique sur St. Lambert et son premier biographe in Annales de l'Académie d'Archélogie de Belgique, XIII, 3rd series, III.
Albers, Petrus Henricus. "St. Lambert." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 15 Jul. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08757a.htm>.
SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08757a.htm
St. Lambert, Bishop and Martyr
From his life, written by Godescalc, deacon of Liege, in Mabillon, sæc. 3, Ben. and in Canisius Lect. Antiq. t. 2, part. 1, l. 142, with the animadversions of Basnage. This work was compiled, with candour and sincerity, (not in 773, as Le Cointe and some others mistook, but about 729,) from the relation of those who attended the saint, as Dom. Rivet demonstrates, Hist. Littér. de la France, t. 4, p. 58. Stephen, bishop of Liege, Anselm, and Nicholas, canons of the same church, Rainer, monk of St. Laurence’s, near that town, Giles of Orval, and Sigebert have also written lives of St. Lambert: that published by Godescalc is the foundation of all the rest; but that compiled by Stephen is the most elegant and methodical. See also Miræus, Annul. Belgic. ad annos 656, 676, 692, 696. Suysken the Bollandist, t. 5, p. 518. Gall. Chr. Nov. t. 3, p. 827, Martenne, &c.
[Bishop of Maestricht, and Patron of Liege.] ST. LANDEBERT, called in latter ages Lambert, was a native of Maestricht, and born of a noble and wealthy family, who had been Christians for many descents. His father caused him to be instructed from his infancy in sacred learning, and afterwards recommended him to St. Theodard to perfect his education. This holy bishop had succeeded St. Remaclus, first, in the government of his two great abbeys of Malmedi and Stavelo, and, ten years after, when the former retired to Stavelo, in the episcopal see of Maestricht. He had such an esteem for this illustrious and holy pupil, that he spared no attention in instructing and training him up to the most perfect practice of Christian virtue. St. Theodard, in 669, resolved to go to King Childeric II., who resided in Austrasia, to obtain an order of that prince for the restitution of the possessions of his church, which had been usurped by certain powerful persons; but was assassinated upon the road by those who withheld his possessions, and torn limb from limb, in the forest of Benalt, near Nemere, since called Spire. He is honoured as a martyr on the 10th of September. St. Lambert was chosen to succeed him, with the consent of King Childeric and the applause of his whole court, where the saint was in great repute. Lambert regarded the episcopal charge as a burden too heavy for his shoulders, as saints have always done, and, trembling under its grievous obligations, set himself earnestly to discharge them without human respect or fear, imploring light and strength from above by assiduous humble prayer. Childeric II. reigned first in Austrasia, Vulfoade being at that time mayor of his palace, whilst Theodoric III. succeeded his brother, Clotaire III., in Neustria and Burgundy, under whom Ebroin tyrannically usurped the dignity of mayor of the palace. So detestable did the cruelty of this minister render the reign of the prince, that his subjects deposed him, so that Childeric became king of all France, Theodoric and Ebroin being shorn monks, the former at St. Denis, the latter at Luxeu; to which condition they both consented, that their lives might be spared. King Childeric II., a debauched and cruel prince, was slain by a conspiracy of noblemen in the year 673, the eleventh of his reign; and Theodoric, his brother, leaving the monastery of St. Denis, was again acknowledged king in Neustria, and Dagobert II, the son of King Sigebert, in Austrasia
This revolution affected St. Lambert, merely because he had been heretofore greatly favoured by Childeric. He was expelled from his see, in which was placed one Faramond. Our saint retired to the monastery of Stavelo, with only two of his domestics; and, during the seven years that he continued there, he obeyed the rule as strictly as the youngest novice could have done. One instance will suffice to show with how perfect a sacrifice of himself he devoted his heart to serve God according to the perfection of his state. As he was rising one night in winter to his private devotions, he happened to let fall his wooden sandal or slipper, so that it made a noise. This the abbot heard, and, looking upon it as a breach of the silence then to be observed in the community, he ordered him that had given occasion to that noise, to go and pray before the cross. This was a great cross which stood in the open air before the church door. Lambert, without making any answer, or discovering who he was, laid down the upper garment he was going to put on, and went out as he was, barefoot, and covered only with his hair shirt; and in this condition he prayed, kneeling before the cross, three or four hours. Whilst the monks were warming themselves after matins, the abbot inquired if all were there. Answer was made, that he had sent one to the cross, who was not yet come in. The abbot ordered that he should be called; and was strangely surprised to find that the person was the holy bishop, who made his appearance quite covered with snow, and almost frozen with cold. At the sight of him the abbot and the monks fell on the ground, and asked his pardon. “God forgive you,” said he, “for thinking you stand in need of pardon for this action. As for myself, is it not in cold and nakedness, that, according to St. Paul, I am to tame my flesh, and to serve God?”
Whilst St. Lambert enjoyed the tranquillity of holy retirement, he wept to see the greater part of the churches of France laid waste. When Theodoric reascended the throne, he appointed Leudisius, son of Erchinoald, mayor of his palace. Ebroin at the same time left the monastery of Luxeu, and sacrilegiously broke the sacred engagements of his vows. He had already made the whole kingdom of Theodoric feel the effects of his power and tyrannical dispositions, when, in 677, he became mayor of the palace to that prince, and absolute master in Neustria and Burgundy, and soon after also in Austrasia, when, upon the death of Dagobert II. (who was murdered by a conspiracy of his nobles, through the contrivance of Ebroin), Theodoric was acknowledged king of the whole French monarchy. Dagobert II. had filled his dominions with religious foundations, and, after his death, was honoured at Stenay, where he was buried, as a martyr. Ebroin, who had in this prince’s life-time extended his violences to several churches subject to him, especially that of Maestricht, after the death of this king oppressed them with greater fury, and persecuted our holy bishop without control. He was, however, overtaken by the divine vengeance; for, three years after the martyrdom of St. Leodegarius, he was himself slain in 681. A nobleman, called Hermenfred, whose estate he had seized, and whom he had threatened with death, watched him one Sunday before it was light, as he came out of his house to matins, and killed him with a blow which he gave him on his head with a sword. From this and other instances we see, as Fleury remarks, that at that time even those noblemen and princes, who were most employed, and who had the least sense of religion and piety, did not exempt themselves from attending at the divine office even in the night.
Pepin of Herstal (grandson of St. Pepin of Landen, by St. Bega and Ansegesil), being made mayor of the palace, set himself to repair the evils done by Ebroin, expelled the usurping wicked bishops whom he had intruded into many sees, and, among many other exiled prelates, restored St. Lambert to the see of Maestricht. The holy pastor, from the exercise of the most heroic virtues, to which he had devoted the time of his exile and retirement, returned to his flock animated with redoubled fervour, preaching and discharging his other functions with wonderful zeal and fruit. Finding there still remained many pagans in Taxandria, a province about Diest, in Brabant, he applied himself to convert them to the faith, softened their barbarous temper by his patience, regenerated them in the holy water of baptism, and destroyed many temples and idols. He frequently visited and conferred with St. Willibrord, the apostle of Friesland. Under the weak reigns of the slothful kings, the greatest disorders prevailed in France, and every bold and powerful man set himself above the laws, and put himself at the head of a seditious faction. Of this the death of St. Lambert furnishes us with a flagrant example. Pepin, who resided at his castle of Herstal, near Liege, on the Maes or Meuse, lived for some years in a scandalous adultery with a concubine named Alpais, by whom he had Charles Martel. St. Lambert reproved the parties with so much earnestness, that some say certain friends of the lady thence took occasion to conspire against his life. Others assign the following occasion of his death: Two brothers, by their violences and plunders of the church of Maestricht, were become insupportable, and could not be restrained by the laws. At this, certain relations of St. Lambert were so exasperated, that, finding themselves driven to the last extremity, they slew the two brothers. Dodo, a kinsman of the two young men who were slain, a rich and powerful officer under Pepin, and related to Alpais, resolved to revenge their death upon the innocent and holy bishop, and attacked him with a considerable body of armed men, at Leodium, then a small village, now the city of Liege. St. Lambert had retired to sleep after matins, when Dodo with his troop broke into his house. The bishop would not suffer his two nephews nor any of his domestics to take arms to defend him, saying: “If you love me truly, love Jesus Christ, and confess your sins unto him. As for me, it is time that I go to live with him.” Then prostrating himself on the ground, with his hands extended in form of a cross, he prayed, shedding many tears. The troop of enemies, entering the house, put to the sword all they met, and one of them, throwing a dart at the holy bishop, slew him. This unjust death, suffered with so great patience and meekness, joined with the eminent sanctity of the life of this holy bishop, has been looked upon as a degree of martyrdom. It happened on the 17th of September, 709, St. Lambert having held the episcopal dignity forty years from the time he succeeded St. Theodard. His body was conveyed in a bark to Maestricht, where it was interred in St. Peter’s church. Several miracles which ensued excited the people to build a church on the spot where the house stood in which he was slain. His successor, St. Hubert, translated thither his relics in 721. At the same time he removed to the same place the episcopal see, as it had been formerly transferred from Tongres to Maestricht, by St. Servatius.
Fortitude, which appears most heroical and most conspicuous in martyrdom, is a cardinal virtue, and the mother of many glorious virtues, as courage, greatness of soul, tranquillity of mind under all dangers, patience, longanimity, constancy, and perseverance. It is the band and support of all other virtues. As the root of a tree bears the trunk, branches, flowers, and fruit, so fortitude sustains, and is the strength of the whole system of moral and Christian virtues, which sink at the first shock without it. This, therefore, is an ingredient of every perfect virtue, by which a man is ready to suffer any hardships or death, to expose himself to any dangers, and to forego all temporal advantages rather than swerve from the path of justice. By confounding rashness, inconsiderate hardiness, and fury with courage, many form a false idea of fortitude, which is defined, “a considerate alacrity in bearing hardships and undergoing dangers.” It moderates in us the two opposite extremes of fear and confidence, it teaches us reasonably to fear dangers and death, and to decline and avoid them, when nothing obliges us to expose ourselves to them; for to be fool-hardy and needlessly to precipitate ourselves upon danger, is the height of folly and vice, and the strongest mark of a corrupt and abandoned heart. But it is true fortitude to undertake and encounter all dangers, when duty or the cause of virtue requires it. How noble and heroical is this virtue of fortitude! how necessary in every Christian, especially in a pastor of souls, that neither worldly views nor fears may ever in the least warp his integrity, or blind his judgment!
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume IX: September. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.