Baptême de Clovis 1er, roi des Francs, par Saint Rémi,
représenté derrière la Basilique Saint Rémi à
Évêque de Reims
La Tradition nous apprend que Remi naquit dans une famille pieuse et emplie de la crainte de Dieu. Son père, Émile, comte de Laon, fut dit-on un extraordinaire administrateur, tandis que sa mère, sainte Céline, alliait toutes les qualités de mère et de grande dame. Émile et Céline eurent d'abord deux garçons : saint Principe, évêque de Soissons, et un autre, père de saint Loup, successeur de son oncle à Soissons.
On raconte que l'ermite Montan reçut trois fois de Dieu l'ordre d'aller avertir Émile et Céline qu'ils auraient encore un fils et que celui-ci serait l'apôtre des Francs en même temps que le reconstructeur de l'Église des Gaules. C'est ainsi que naquit Remi, à Laon, vers le milieu du V° siècle.
Très vite, dit-on, Remi montra une grande piété et beaucoup d'humilité, en même temps qu'une grande intelligence ; aussi le mit-on très tôt à l'étude où il progressa vivement. Vers sa vingtième année, il se claustra dans une petite maison proche du château de Laon où il continua d'étudier en menant une vie de prière, ne sortant que pour les offices et l'exercice de la charité. Sa réputation grandit au point que lorsque mourut Bennadius, évêque de Reims, le clergé et le peuple de cette ville demandèrent qu'il soit leur évêque bien qu'il n'eût que vingt-deux ans.
Remi fit toutes les représentations possibles et imaginables pour échapper à l'élection ; rien n'y fit, les rémois n'en démordirent pas et répondaient à tout, jusqu'à ce que Dieu lui-même s'en vint ratifier leur choix lorsqu'Il envoya un rayon de lumière sur le front de Remi en l'embaumant d'un céleste parfum. Les gens de Reims enlevèrent alors l'élu et le firent sacrer leur XV° évêque.
À peine sacré, il se mit à exercer son épiscopat avec l'autorité et le discernement d'un vieil évêque : homme de prière et de célébration, de pénitence et de charité ; prédicateur de talent et parfait instructeur du peuple. De plus, il ne tarda guère à opérer des miracles comme délivrer des possédés de l'emprise du démon, rendre la vue aux aveugles, préserver de l'incendie et de la mort, changer de l'eau en vin et même ressusciter des morts.
Or, il advint que Clovis monta sur un trône des Francs et Remi ne manqua pas de lui écrire promptement pour le féliciter et aussi pour lui adresser ses conseils :
L'important, c'est que la justice de Dieu ne chancelle point chez nous.
... Vous devez vous servir de conseillers capables d'orner votre réputation.
... Vous devrez avoir de la déférence pour nos prêtres et recourir toujours à leurs conseils : si l'harmonie règne entre Vous et eux, notre pays en profitera.
... Secourez les affligés, ayez soin des veuves, nourrissez les orphelins.
... Que tous vous aiment et vous craignent.
Clovis ne tarda pas à nourrir une grande estime pour les qualités humaines de l'évêque Remi dont il fit un de ses conseillers privilégiés. Le chroniqueur Frégédaire affirme que Remi fut le bénéficiaire de l'histoire du ‘ vase de Soissons ’.
Enfin lorsque la Gaule du Nord fut conquise, il est vraisemblable que Remi fut l'intermédiaire entre la population et les Francs, d'autant plus que les autres évêques reconnaissaient Remi pour leur porte-parole et leur défenseur.
Cependant, il convenait au plus tôt de réaliser la prophétie de Montan et de convertir Clovis dont l'épouse, Clotilde, était déjà chrétienne. Remi fit alors le siège de Clovis et l'encercla par des arguments politiques (les ennemis qu'il restait à vaincre - Wisigoths, Burgondes, Ostrogoths - étaient hérétiques et le Roi devenu catholique serait reçu comme un libérateur venu restituer la vraie foi), en même temps que par des démonstrations spirituelles et intellectuelles. Clovis se décida lors de la bataille de Tolbiac qu'il gagna, pensa-t-il, miraculeusement. L'ennemi ayant fait volte-face, Clovis fut acclamé par ses guerriers et, publiquement, commença le chemin de la conversion sous la conduite de saint Remi. Le baptême eut lieu à Noël 496 dans la cathédrale de Reims et une colombe apporta le Saint Chrême du ciel. Trois mille guerriers se firent baptiser avec leur roi. Clovis devint le nouveau Constantin et rallia les populations catholiques des Gaules.
Brisé par la maladie, saint Remi mourut après plus de 70 ans d'épiscopat, le 13 janvier 533, et fut déposé au tombeau le 15 janvier. La translation solennelle de ses reliques eut lieu le 1° octobre de la même année.
Évêque de Reims (✝ 530)
Au propre de France, Rémi est fêté le 15 janvier (dies
Au propre du diocèse de Reims, il est fêté le 1er
octobre, jour de la "translation" des reliques pour y être vénéré par
les rémois à l'emplacement où s'élèvera l'actuelle basilique (attesté dès 585 -
installation d'un monastère vers 750-760).
Issu d'une grande famille gallo-romaine de la région
de Laon, il avait pour mère sainte
Céline. A 22 ans, il est choisi comme évêque de Reims et son activité
missionnaire s'étend jusqu'à la Belgique. Il fonde les diocèses de Thérouanne,
Laon et Arras, crée tout un réseau d'assistance pour les pauvres et joue un
rôle de médiateur auprès des Barbares. Quand le chef franc Clovis prend le
pouvoir, saint Rémi lui envoie un message "Soulage tes concitoyens,
secours les affligés, protège les veuves, nourris les orphelins."
La reine sainte Clotilde,
tout naturellement, se tournera vers saint Rémi et vers un autre évêque
contemporain, saint Vaast, pour
acheminer le roi vers la foi. Après le baptême de Reims, saint Rémi restera,
jusqu'à sa mort, l'un des conseillers écoutés du roi et sera l'un des artisans,
en Gaule, du retour à la vérité catholique des Burgondes après le bataille de
Dijon et des Wisigoths à Vouillé, deux populations contaminées par l'arianisme.
aussi sur le site du diocèse de Reims.
Au 13 janvier au martyrologe romain: À Reims, vers
530, la naissance au ciel de saint Remi, évêque, qui, après avoir lavé le roi
Clovis dans la fontaine baptismale et l’avoir initié aux sacrements de la foi,
il convertit au Christ le peuple des Francs. Il quitta cette vie, célèbre par
sa sainteté après plus de soixante ans d’épiscopat. (En France, sa mémoire est
célébrée le 15, jour de sa mise au tombeau.)
Secourez les malheureux, protégez les veuves,
nourrissez les orphelins… Que votre tribunal reste ouvert à tous et que
personne n’en sorte triste ! Toutes les richesses de vos ancêtres, vous les
emploierez à la libération des captifs et au rachat des esclaves. Admis en
votre palais, que nul ne s’y sente étranger ! Plaisantez avec les jeunes,
délibérez avec les vieillards !
Lettre de saint Rémi au roi Clovis - 482
SOURCE : http://nominis.cef.fr/contenus/saint/439/Saint-Remi.html
Archevêque de Reims, Apôtre des Francs
La naissance de saint Rémi fut prédite à ses parents déjà avancés en âge par un vieux moine aveugle. Les talents et les vertus de Rémi le firent consacrer archevêque de Reims, à l'âge de vingt-deux ans; sa consécration fut marquée par un prodige: le front de Rémi parut brillant de lumière et fut embaumé d'un parfum tout céleste.
Il montra dès l'abord toutes les vertus des grands pontifes. Les miracles relevèrent encore l'éclat de sa sainteté: pendant ses repas, les oiseaux venaient prendre du pain dans ses mains; il guérit un aveugle possédé du démon; il remplit de vin, par le signe de la Croix, un vase presque vide; il éteignit, par sa seule présence, un terrible incendie; il délivra du démon une jeune fille que saint Benoît n'avait pu délivrer.
L'histoire de sainte Clotilde nous apprend comment Clovis se tourna vers le Dieu des chrétiens, à la bataille de Tolbiac, et remporta la victoire. Ce fut saint Rémi qui acheva d'instruire le prince. Comme il lui racontait, d'une manière touchante, la Passion du Sauveur: "Ah! s'écria le guerrier, que n'étais-je là avec mes Francs pour Le délivrer!" La nuit avant le baptême, saint Rémi alla chercher le roi, la reine et leur suite dans le palais, et les conduisit à l'église, où il leur fit un éloquent discours sur la vanité des faux dieux et les grands mystères de la religion chrétienne. Alors l'église se remplit d'une lumière et d'une odeur célestes, et l'on entendit une voix qui disait: "La paix soit avec vous!"
Le Saint prédit à Clovis et à Clotilde les grandeurs futures des rois de France, s'ils restaient fidèles à Dieu et à l'Église. Quand fut venu le moment du baptême, il dit au roi: "Courbe la tête, fier Sicambre; adore ce que tu as brûlé, et brûle ce que tu as adoré." Au moment de faire l'onction du Saint Chrême, le pontife, s'apercevant que l'huile manquait, leva les yeux au Ciel et pria Dieu d'y pourvoir. Tout à coup, on aperçut une blanche colombe descendre d'en haut, portant une fiole pleine d'un baume miraculeux; le saint prélat la prit, et fit l'onction sur le front du prince. Cette fiole, appelée dans l'histoire la sainte Ampoule, exista jusqu'en 1793, époque où elle fut brisée par les révolutionnaires. Outre l'onction du baptême, saint Rémi avait conféré au roi Clovis l'onction royale. Deux soeurs du roi, trois mille seigneurs, une foule de soldats, de femmes et d'enfants furent baptisés le même jour.
Saint Rémi devint aveugle dans sa vieillesse. Ayant recouvré la vue par miracle, il célébra une dernière fois le Saint Sacrifice et s'éteignit, âgé de quatre-vingt-seize ans.
Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950
SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_remi.html
Saint Remy et Clovis Ier. Cote : Français 241
Fol. 266v. Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda aurea (traduction
de Jean de Vignay),
France, Paris, XIVe siècle, Richard de Montbaston.
Remi vient de rameur, qui conduit et dirige le navire. Ou de rames, instruments à l’aide desquels on mène le vaisseau. Il vient de plus de gyon, lutte. En effet saint Remi gouverna l’église et la préserva du naufrage ; il la conduisit à la porte du paradis, et il combattit pour elle contre les embûches du diable.
Saint Remi convertit à J.-C. le roi et la nation des Francs. En effet ce roi avait épousé une femme très chrétienne nommée Clotilde qui employait inutilement tous les moyens pour convertir son mari à la foi: Ayant mis au monde un fils, elle voulut qu'il fût baptisé; le roi s'y opposa formellement : or, comme elle n'avait pas de plus pressant désir, elle finit par obtenir le consentement de Clovis; et l’enfant fut baptisé; mais peu de temps après, il mourut subitement. Le roi dit à Clotilde : « On voit maintenant que le Christ est un dieu de maigre valeur, puisqu'il n'a pu conserver à la vie celui par lequel sa croyance pouvait être accrue. » Clotilde lui dit : « Bien au contraire, c'est en cela que je me sens singulièrement aimée de mon Dieu, puisque je sais qu'il a repris le premier fruit de mon sein ; il a donné à mon fils. un royaume infiniment meilleur que le tien. » Or, elle conçut de nouveau et mit au monde un second fils qu'elle fit baptiser au plus tôt ainsi que le premier; quand tout à coup, il tomba si gravement malade qu'on désespéra de sa vie. Alors le roi dit à son épouse : « Vraiment ton dieu (142) est bien faible pour ne pouvoir conserver à la vie quelqu'un baptisé en son nom : quand tu en engendrerais un mille et que tu les ferais baptiser, tous ils périront de même. Cependant l’enfant entra en convalescence et recouvra la santé ; il régna même après son père. Or, cette femme fidèle s'efforçait d'amener son mari à 1a foi, mais celui-ci résistait d'une manière absolue. (Dans une autre fête de saint Remi qui se trouve après l’Epiphanie, on a dit comment il fut converti,) Et quand le roi Clovis eut été fait chrétien, il voulut doter l’église de Reims, et dit à saint Remi : « Je vous veux donner tout le terrain dont vous pourrez faire le, tour pendant ma méridienne (Flodoard, c. XIV). »Ainsi fut fait. Mais sur un point du terrain que Remi parcourait, se trouvait un moulin, et le meunier repoussa le saint avec indignation. Saint Remi lui dit : « Mon ami, souffre sans te plaindre que nous partagions ce moulin. » Cet homme le repoussa encore, mais aussitôt la roue du moulin se mit à tourner à rebours ; il appela alors saint Remi en lui disant : « Serviteur de Dieu, venez, et possédons le moulin en commun. » Le saint lui répondit : « Ce ne sera ni à toi, ni à moi. » Et à l’instant la terre s'entr'ouvrit et engloutit entièrement le moulin. Saint Remi, prévoyant qu'il y aurait une famine, amassa beaucoup de blé ; des paysans ivres, pour se moquer de la prudence du vieillard mirent le feu au magasin. Quand saint Remi apprit cela, à raison des glaces de l’âge et du soir qui était arrivé il se mit à Se chauffer et dit tranquillement : « Le feu est bon en tout temps, cependant les hommes qui ont agi ainsi, et leurs descendants auront les membres virils rompus et leurs femmes seront goitreuses. » Il en fut ainsi jusqu'au temps où ils furent dispersés par Charlemagne (Flodoard (c. XVII) rapporte cette malédiction du saint ; les hommes auraient eu une affliction qui n'aurait été autre qu'une hernie. Il se sert du mot ponderosi). Or, il faut noter que la fête de saint Remi qui se célèbre au mois de janvier est le jour de son bienheureux trépas tandis que ce jour est la fête de sa translation. Après son décès, son corps était porté dans un cercueil en l’église des saints Timothée et Apollinaire ; mais arrivé à l’église de saint Christophe, il devint tellement pesant qu'il n'y eut plus possibilité de le mouvoir. On fut donc forcé de prier le Seigneur de daigner indiquer si, par hasard, il ne voulait pas que Remi fût inhumé dans cette église où il n'y avait encore aucune autre relique de saint : et à l’instant, on souleva le corps avec grande facilité, tant il était devenu léger! et on l'y déposa avec beaucoup de pompe. Or, comme il s'y opérait une infinité de miracles, on agrandit l’église et on construisit une crypte derrière l’autel; mais quand il fallut lever le corps pour l’y placer, on ne put le remuer. On passa la nuit en prières et à minuit, tout le monde s'étant endormi, le lendemain, c'est-à-dire, le jour des calendes (1er) d'octobre, on trouva que le cercueil avait été porté, dans cette crypte par les anges avec le corps, de saint Remi.
Ce fut longtemps après qu'on en fit, à pareil jour, la translation, avec une châsse d'argent, dans la crypte qui avait reçu de riches décorations (Cf. Flodoard, passim..).
Saint Remi vécut vers l’an du Seigneur 490.
La Légende dorée de Jacques de VORAGINE nouvellement traduite en français avec introduction, notices, notes et recherches sur les sources par l'Abbé J.-B. M. Roze, Chanoine Honoraire de la cathédrale d'Amiens , Édouard Rouveyre, éditeur, 76, Rue de Seine, 76, Paris MDCCCCII
SOURCE : http://www.abbaye-saint-benoit.ch/voragine/tome03/148.htm
Plaque de reliure en ivoire, Reims, dernier quart du
IXème siècle. Musée de Picardie à Amiens.
Scènes de la vie de St Remi :
au registre supérieur, St Remi ressuscite une jeune
au centre : la Main de Dieu remplit deux flacons ;
au registre inférieur, le baptême de Clovis avec le
miracle de la Sainte Ampoule.
Le Baptême de Clovis
(du livret « Saint Rémi, Thaumaturge et Apôtre des Francs » par le Marquis de la Franquerie, pages 12 à 14)
« Dans la nuit de Noël 496, au jour anniversaire et à l’heure même de sa naissance, le Christ – lors de la naissance spirituelle de notre France et de nos Rois - voulut, par un miracle éclatant, affirmer la Mission providentielle de notre pays et de notre Race Royale, au moment même ou Saint Rémi va proclamer cette Mission au nom du Tout-Puissant, pour sanctionner solennellement les paroles (divinement inspirées) de Son Ministre. A minuit, alors que le Roi, la Reine et leur suite sont dans l’Eglise Saint Pierre ou l’Archevêque les a convoqués, ‘soudain raconte Hincmar (1), une lumière plus éclatante que le soleil inonde l’église ! Le visage de l’évêque en est irradié ! En même temps retentit une voix : ‘La paix soit avec vous ! C’est moi ! N’ayez point peur ! Persévérez en ma dilection ! Quand la voix eut parlé, ce fut une odeur céleste qui embauma l’atmosphère. Le Roi, la Reine, toute l’assistance épouvantés, se jetèrent aux pieds de Saint Rémi qui les rassura et leur déclara que c’est le propre de Dieu d’étonner au commencement de Ses visites et de se réjouir à la fin. Puis soudainement illuminé d’une vision d’avenir, la face rayonnante, l’œil en feu, le nouveau Moïse s’adressant directement à Clovis, Chef du nouveau Peuple de Dieu, lui tint le langage – identique quant au sens – de l’ancien Moïse à l’Ancien Peuple de Dieu : ‘Apprenez, mon fils, que le royaume de France est prédestiné par Dieu à la défense de l’Eglise Romaine, qui est la seule véritable église du Christ. Ce Royaume sera un jour grand entre tous les royaumes et il embrassera toutes les limites de l’empire romain ! Et il soumettra tous les peuples à son sceptre ! Il durera jusqu’à la fin des temps ! Il sera victorieux et prospère tant qu’il sera fidèle à la foi romaine. Mais il sera rudement châtié toutes les fois qu’il sera infidèle à sa vocation(2)’. Remarquez le bien : la prophétie est faite directement à la race royale, pour bien marquer que la race royale doit être aussi inséparable de la France que la France doit être inséparable de l’Eglise ! Un nouveau miracle devait se produire le jour même ; laissons parler Hincmar : ‘Dès qu’on fut arrivé au baptistère, le clerc qui portait le chrême, séparé par la foule de l’officiant, ne put arriver à le rejoindre. Le Saint Chrême fit défaut. Le Pontife alors lève au ciel les yeux…et supplie le Seigneur de le secourir en cette nécessité pressante. ‘Soudain apparaît, voltigeant à la portée de sa main, aux yeux ravis et étonnés de l’immense foule, une blanche colombe tenant en son bec une ampoule d’huile sainte dont le parfum d’une inexprimable suavité embauma toute l’assistance. Dès que le prélat eut reçu l’ampoule, la colombe disparut (3). C’est avec le Saint Chrême contenu dans cette Ampoule, qu’ont été sacrés nos Rois. Le cérémonial du Sacre des Rois de France reconnaît que, comme au baptême du Christ, c’est le ‘Saint Esprit qui, par l’effet d’une grâce singulière, apparut sous la forme d’une colombe et donna ce baume divin au pontife’. Le Saint Esprit voulut assister visiblement au Sacre du premier de nos Rois, pour marquer ainsi d’un signe sacré de toute spéciale prédilection la Monarchie Française, consacrer tous nos Rois et imprimer sur leur front un caractère indélébile qui leur assurerait la Primauté sur tous les autres Souverains de la terre ; enfin pour les munir de Ses sept dons afin qu’ils pussent accomplir leur Mission providentielle dans le monde. Très véritablement le Roi de France était l’Oint, le consacré du Seigneur. Ce privilège unique était reconnu dans le monde entier. Dans toutes les cérémonies diplomatiques, en effet, l’Ambassadeur du Roi de France avait le pas sur ceux de tous les autres Souverains parce que son Maître était ‘Sacré d’une huile apportée du Ciel’, ainsi que le reconnaît un Décret de la République de Venise, daté de 1558 ».
(1) : « Migne ‘Patrologie Latine’, tome 125, page 1159. Hincmar : ‘Vita Sancti Remigii’, chapitre 36 ».
(2) : « Migne ‘Patrologie Latine’, tome 135, page 51 ; Flodoard : ‘Historia Ecclesiae Remensis, livre 1, chapitre 13 ».
(3) : « Hincmar : ‘Vita Sancti Remigii’, chapitre 38. Migne ‘Patrologie Latine’, tome 125, page 1160 ».
Apostle of the Franks, Archbishop of Reims, b. at Cerny or Laon,
437; d. at Reims, 13 January 533. His feast is
celebrated 1 October. His father was Emile, Count of Laon.
He studied literature at Reims and
soon became so noted for learning and sanctity that he
was elected Archbishop of Reims in his
twenty-second year. Thence-forward his chief aim was the propagation of Christianity in the
realm of the Franks. The story of the return of thesacred
had been stolen from
the Church of Soissons testifies
to the friendly relations existingbetween him and Clovis, King of the Franks, whom he converted to Christianity with
the assistance of St. Waast(Vedastus, Vaast)
Clotilda, wife of Clovis. Even before he embraced Christianity Clovis had
showered benefits upon both the Bishop and Cathedral of Reims, and after the battle of Tolbiac, he requested Remigius tobaptize him at Reims (24
December, 496) in presence of several bishops of the Franks and Alemanni and
great numbers of the Frankish army. Clovis granted
Remigius stretches of territory, in which the latter established andendowed many churches. He erected, with the papal consent, bishoprics at Tournai; Cambrai; Terouanne, where he ordained the
first bishop in 499; Arras,
where he placed St. Waast; Laon,
which he gave to his nephew Gunband. The authors of "Gallia
Christiana" record numerous and munificent donations made to St. Remigius by members of the Frankish nobility,
which he presented to the cathedral at Reims. In 517 he held a synod,
at which after a heated discussion he converted a bishop of Arian views.
In 523 he wrote congratulating Pope Hormisdas upon
his election. St.
Medardus, Bishop of
Noyon, was consecrated by him
in 530. Although St. Remigius's influence over people and prelates was
extraordinary, yet upon one occasion, the history of
which has come down to us, his course of action was
attacked. His condonement of the offences of one Claudius, a priest, brought upon him the rebukes of his episcopal brethren,
who deemed Claudius deserving
of degradation. The reply of St. Remigius, which is still extant, is able and
convincing (cf. Labbe,
"Concilia", IV). His relics were
kept in the cathedral of Reims, whence Hincmar had
them translated to Epernay during
the period of the invasion by the Northmen, thence, in 1099, at the instance of Leo
IX, to the Abbey of Saint-Remy. His sermons, so much admired by Sidonius Apollinaris (lib.
IX, cap. lxx), are not extant. On his other works we have four letters, the one
containing his defence in the matter of Claudius, two written to Clovis, and a fourth to the Bishop of
Tongres. According to several biographers, the Testament of St. Remigius is apocryphal; Mabillon and Ducange, however, argue for its authenticity. The attribution of other works to St. Remigius, particularly a commentary upon St.
Paul's Epistles, is entirely without foundation.
Acta Sanct. I October,
59-187; Hist. litt. France, III (Paris, 1735), 155-163; DE
CERIZIERS, Les heureux commencements de
la France chrétienne sous St. Remi (Reims, 1633); MARLOT, Tombeau de St. Remi (Reims, 1647);
DORIGNY, Vie de St Remi (Paris,
1714); AUBERT, Vie de St. Remi
(Paris, 1849); MEYER, Notice de deux MSS. de la vie de St. Remi in Notes et extraits de MSS., XXXV (Paris,
1895), 117-30; D'AVENAY, St. Remi de
Reims (Lille, 1896); CARLIER, Vie de
St Remi (Tours, 1896).
Dedieu-Barthe, Joseph. "St.
Remigius." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New
York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 20 May 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12763b.htm>.
Transcription. This article
was transcribed for New Advent by Thomas M. Barrett. Dedicated to
the memory of St. Remigius.
approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D.,
Censor. Imprimatur. +John
Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Copyright © 2020 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Remigius (Rémy, Remi) of
Reims B (RM) +
Born at Cerny near Laon, France, c. 437; died at Rheims on January 13, 530. The
name St. Rémy is intimately connected with that of King Clovis of the Franks,
the bloodthirsty general and collector of vases. Rémy was the son of Count
Emilius of Laon and Saint Celina, daughter of Principius, bishop of Soissons.
Even as a child Rémy was devoted to books and God. These two loves developed
the future saint into a famous preacher. Saint Sidonius Apollinaris, who knew
him, testified to his virtue and eloquence as a preacher.
So great was his
renown that, in 459, when he was only 22 and still a layman, he was elected
bishop of Rheims. Hincmar, testifying that Rémy "was forced into being
bishop rather than elected," adds to our impression of a virtuous man the
added quality of modesty. Other sources note that the saint was refined, tall
(over seven feet(!) in height), with an austere forehead, an aquiline nose,
fair hair, a solemn walk, and stately bearing.
ordination and consecration, he reigned for 74 years--all the time devoting
himself to the evangelization of the Franks. It was said that "by his
signs and miracles, Rémy brought low the heathen altars everywhere."
Foregoing the alternative episcopal path, Rémy chose the way of self-sacrifice.
He became a model for his clergy and was indefatigable in his good works.
At some point
between 481 and 486, Rémy wrote to the pagan King Clovis: "May the voice
of justice be heard from your mouth. . . . Respect your bishops and seek their
advice. . . . Be the protector of your subjects, the support of the afflicted,
the comfort of widows, the father of orphans and the master of all, that they
might learn to love you and fear you. . . . Let your court fe open to all and
let no one leave with the grief of not being heard. . . . Divert yourself with
young people, but if you wish truly to reign transact important matters with
those who are older. . . .
Clovis must have
respected Rémy's advice even if he did not follow it: During his march on
Chalons and Troyes, Clovis bypassed Rheims, Rémy's see. It is possible, though,
that only his wife's civilizing influence prevented him from burning Rheims.
Clovis married the
radiant and beautiful Christian, Saint Clotildis, by proxy at Chalons-sur-
Saone, while she was still living in Lyons under the tutelage of Saint
Blandine. It was not a peaceful union. Clovis, an ambitious autocrat, allowed
his rage to lead to ill-planned actions. The young, pious Clotildis showed him
how much wiser it was to struggle with this wild beast than to give way to his
emotions. At first Clovis resisted being tamed by his wife.
In 496, Clovis,
supposedly in response to a suggestion from his wife, invoked the Christian God
when the invading Alemanni were on the verge of defeating his forces, whereupon
the tide of battle turned and Clovis was victorious at Tolbiac. St. Rémy, aided
by Saint Vedast, instructed him and his chieftains in Christianity. At the
Easter Vigil (or Christmas Day) in 496, Rémy baptized Clovis, his two sisters,
and 3,000 of his subjects. (Most seem to agree on the year, but not the day or
Though he never
took part in any of the councils held during his life, Rémy was a zealous
proponent of orthodoxy, opposed Arianism, and converted an Arian bishop at a
synod of Arian bishops in 517. He was censured by a group of bishops for
ordaining one Claudius, whom they felt was unworthy of the priesthood, but St.
Rémy was generally held in great veneration for his holiness, learning, and
miracles. He is said to have healed a blind man. Another time, like Jesus, he
was confronted with a host who ran out of wine at a dinner party. Rémy went
down to the cellar, prayed, and at once wine began to spread over the floor!
Rémy's last act was
to draw up a will in which he distributed all his lands and wealth and ordered
that "generous alms be given the poor, that liberty be given to the serfs
on his domain," and concluded by asking God to bless the family of the
first Christian king.
Because he was the
most influential prelate of Gaul and is considered the apostle of the Franks,
Rémy has been the subject of many tales. Rémy's notoriety sometimes difficult
to distinguish the reliable from the untrustworthy in his biographies
(Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
In art, St.
Remigius is generally portrayed as a bishop carrying holy oils, though he may
have other representations. At times he may be shown (1) as a dove brings him
the chrism to anoint Clovis; (2) with Clovis kneeling before him; (3) preaching
before Clovis and his queen; (4) welcoming another saint led by an angel from
prison; (5) exorcising; or (6) contemplating the veil of Saint Veronica
SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/1001.shtml
Remigius, Archbishop of Rheims, Confessor
his ancient life now lost, but abridged by Fortunatus, and his life compiled by
Archbishop Hincmar, with a history of the translation of his relics. See also
St. Gregory of Tours, l. 2; Fleury, l. 29, n. 44, &c.; Ceillier, t. 16;
Rivet, Hist. Littér. de la Fr. t. 3, p. 155;
Suysken the Bollandist, t. 1, Octob. pp. 59, 187.
ST. REMIGIUS, the great apostle of the French nation,
was one of the brightest lights of the Gaulish church, illustrious for his
learning, eloquence, sanctity, and miracles. An episcopacy of seventy years,
and many great actions have rendered his name famous in the annals of the
church. His very birth was wonderful, and his life was almost a continued
miracle of divine grace. His father Emilius, and his mother Cilinia, both
descended of noble Gaulish families, enjoyed an affluent fortune, lived in
splendour suitable to their rank at the castle of Laon, and devoted themselves
to the exercise of all Christian virtues. St. Remigius seems to have been born
in the year 439. 1
He had two brothers older than himself, Principius, bishop of Soissons, and
another whose name is not known, but who was father of St. Lupus, who was
afterwards one of his uncle’s successors in the episcopal see of Soissons. A
hermit named Montanus foretold the birth of our saint to his mother; and the
pious parents had a special care of his education, looked upon him as a child
blessed by heaven, and were careful to put him into the best hands.
His nurse Balsamia is reckoned among the saints, and
is honoured at Rheims in a collegiate church which bears her name. She had a
son called Celsin, who was afterwards a disciple of our saint, and is known at
Laon by the name of St. Soussin. St. Remigius had an excellent genius, made
great progress in learning, and in the opinion of St. Apollinaris Sidonius, who
was acquainted with him in the earlier part of his life, he became the most
eloquent person in that age. 2
He was remarkable from his youth for his extraordinary devotion and piety, and
for the severity of his morals. A secret apartment in which he spent a great
part of his time in close retirement, in the castle of Laon, whilst he lived
there, was standing in the ninth century, and was visited with devout
veneration when Hincmar wrote. Our saint, earnestly thirsting after greater
solitude, and the means of a more sublime perfection, left his father’s house,
and made choice of a retired abode, where, having only God for witness, he
abandoned himself to the fervour of his zeal in fasting, watching, and prayer.
The episcopal see of Rheims 3
becoming vacant by the death of Bennagius, Remigius, though only twenty-two
years of age, was compelled, notwithstanding his extreme reluctance, to take
upon him that important charge; his extraordinary abilities seeming to the
bishops of the province a sufficient reason for dispensing with the canons in
point of age. In this new dignity, prayer, meditation on the holy scriptures,
the instruction of the people, and the conversion of infidels, heretics, and
sinners were the constant employment of the holy pastor. Such was the fire and
unction with which he announced the divine oracles to all ranks of men, that he
was called by many a second St. Paul. St. Apollinaris Sidonius 4
was not able to find terms to express his admiration of the ardent charity and
purity with which this zealous bishop offered at the altar an incense of sweet
odour to God, and of the zeal with which by his words he powerfully subdued the
wildest hearts, and brought them under the yoke of virtue, inspiring the
lustful with the love of purity, and moving hardened sinners to bewail their
offences with tears of sincere compunction. The same author, who, for his
eloquence and piety was one of the greatest lights of the church in that age,
that he procured copies of the sermons of this admirable bishop, which he
esteemed an invaluable treasure; and says that in them he admired the loftiness
of the thoughts, the judicious choice of the epithets, the gracefulness and
propriety of the figures, and the justness, strength, and closeness of the
reasoning, which he compares to the vehemence of thunder; the words flowed like
a gentle river, but every part in each discourse was so naturally connected,
and the style so even and smooth, that the whole carried with it an
irresistible force. The delicacy and beauty of the thoughts and expression were
at the same time enchanting, this being so smooth, that it might be compared to
the smoothest ice or crystal upon which a nail runs without meeting with the
least rub or unevenness. Another main excellency of these sermons consisted in
the sublimity of the divine maxims which they contained, and the unction and
sincere piety with which they were delivered; but the holy bishop’s sermons and
zealous labours derived their greatest force from the sanctity of his life,
which was supported by an extraordinary gift of miracles. Thus was St. Remigius
qualified and prepared by God to be made the apostle of a great nation.
The Gauls, who had formerly extended their conquests
by large colonies in Asia, had subdued a great part of Italy, and brought Rome
itself to the very brink of utter destruction, 6
were at length reduced under the Roman yoke by Julius Cæsar, fifty years before
the Christian era. It was the custom of those proud conquerors, as St. Austin
to impose the law of their own language upon the nations which they subdued. 8
After Gaul had been for the space of about five hundred years one of the
richest and most powerful provinces of the Roman empire, it fell into the hands
of the French; but these new masters, far from extirpating or expelling the old
Roman or Gaulish inhabitants, became, by a coalition with them, one people and
took up their language and manners. 9
Clovis, at his accession to the crown, was only fifteen years old: he became
the greatest conqueror of his age, and is justly styled the founder of the
French monarchy. Even whilst he was a pagan he treated the Christians,
especially the bishops, very well, spared the churches, and honoured holy men,
particularly St. Remigius, to whom he caused one of the vessels of his church,
which a soldier had taken away, to be returned, and because the man made some
demur, slew him with his own hand. St. Clotildis, whom he married in 493,
earnestly endeavoured to persuade him to embrace the faith of Christ. The first
fruit of their marriage was a son, who, by the mother’s procurement, was
baptized, and called Ingomer. This child died during the time of his wearing
the white habit, within the first week after his baptism. Clovis harshly
reproached Clotildis, and said: “If he had been consecrated in the name of my
gods, he had not died; but having been baptized in the name of yours, he could
not live.” The queen answered: “I thank God, who has thought me worthy of
bearing a child whom he has called to his kingdom.” She had afterwards another
son, whom she procured to be baptized, and who was named Chlodomir. He also
fell sick, and the king said in great anger: “It could not be otherwise: he
will die presently in the same manner his brother did, having been baptized in
the name of your Christ.” God was pleased to put the good queen to this trial;
but by her prayers this child recovered. 10
She never ceased to exhort the king to forsake his idols, and to acknowledge
the true God; but he held out a long time against all her arguments, till, on
the following occasion, God was pleased wonderfully to bring him to the
confession of his holy name, and to dissipate that fear of the world which
chiefly held him back so long, he being apprehensive lest his pagan subjects
should take umbrage at such a change.
The Suevi and Alemanni in Germany assembled a numerous
and valiant army, and under the command of several kings, passed the Rhine,
hoping to dislodge their countrymen the Franks, and obtain for themselves the
glorious spoils of the Roman empire in Gaul. Clovis marched to meet them near
his frontiers, and one of the fiercest battles recorded in history was fought
at Tolbiac. Some think that the situation of these German nations, the
shortness of the march of Clovis, and the route which he took, point out the
place of this battle to have been somewhere in Upper Alsace. 11
But most modern historians agree that Tolbiac is the present Zulpich, situated
in the duchy of Juliers, four leagues from Cologne, between the Meuse and the
Rhine; and this is demonstrated by the judicious and learned d’Anville. 12
In this engagement the king had given the command of the infantry to his cousin
Sigebert, fighting himself at the head of the cavalry. The shock of the enemy
was so terrible, that Sigebert was in a short time carried wounded out of the
field, and the infantry was entirely routed, and put to flight. Clovis saw the
whole weight of the battle falling on his cavalry; yet stood his ground,
fighting himself like a lion, covered with blood and dust: and encouraging his
men to exert their utmost strength, he performed with them wonderful exploits
of valour. Notwithstanding these efforts, they were at length borne down, and
began to flee and disperse themselves; nor could they be rallied by the
commands and entreaties of their king, who saw the battle upon which his empire
depended, quite desperate. Clotildis had said to him in taking leave: “My lord,
you are going to conquest; but in order to be victorious, invoke the God of the
Christians: he is the sole Lord of the universe, and is styled the God of
armies. If you address yourself to him with confidence, nothing can resist you.
Though your enemies were a hundred against one, you would triumph over them.”
The king called to mind these her words in his present extremity, and lifting
up his eyes to heaven, said, with tears: “O Christ, whom Clotildas invokes as
Son of the living God, I implore thy succour. I have called upon my gods, and
find they have no power. I therefore invoke thee; I believe in thee. Deliver me
from my enemies, and I will be baptized in thy name.” No sooner had he made
this prayer than his scattered cavalry began to rally about his person; the
battle was renewed with fresh vigour, and the chief king and generalissimo of
the enemy being slain, the whole army threw down their arms, and begged for
quarter. Clovis granted them their lives and liberty upon condition that the
country of the Suevi in Germany should pay him an annual tribute. He seems to
have also subdued and imposed the same yoke upon the Boioarians or Bavarians;
for his successors gave that people their first princes or dukes, as F. Daniel
shows at large. This miraculous victory was gained in the fifteenth year of his
reign, of Christ 496.
Clovis, from that memorable day, thought of nothing
but of preparing himself for the holy laver of regeneration. In his return from
this expedition he passed by Toul, and there took with him St. Vedast, a holy
priest who led a retired life in that city, that he might be instructed by him
in the faith during his journey; so impatient was he to fulfil his vow of
becoming a Christian, that the least wilful delay appeared to him criminal. The
queen, upon this news, sent privately to St. Remigius to come to her, and went
with him herself to meet the king in Champagne. Clovis no sooner saw her, but
he cried out to her: “Clovis has vanquished the Alemanni, and you have triumphed
over Clovis. The business you have so much at heart is done; my baptism can be
no longer delayed.” The queen answered: “To the God of hosts is the glory of
both these triumphs due.” She encouraged him forthwith to accomplish his vow,
and presented to him St. Remigius as the most holy bishop in his dominions.
This great prelate continued his instruction, and prepared him for baptism by
the usual practices of fasting, penance, and prayer. Clovis suggested to him
that he apprehended the people who obeyed him would not be willing to forsake
their gods, but said he would speak to them according to his instructions. He
assembled the chiefs of his nation for this purpose; but they prevented his
speaking, and cried out with a loud voice: “My lord, we abandon mortal gods,
and are ready to follow the immortal God, whom Remigius teaches.” St. Remigius
and St. Vedast therefore instructed and prepared them for baptism. Many bishops
repaired to Rheims for this solemnity, which they judged proper to perform on
Christmas-day, rather than to defer it till Easter. The king set the rest an
example of compunction and devotion, laying aside his purple and crown, and,
covered with ashes, imploring night and day the divine mercy. To give an
external pomp to this sacred action, in order to strike the senses of a
barbarous people, and impress a sensible awe and respect upon their minds, the
good queen took care that the streets from the palace to the great church
should be adorned with rich hangings, and that the church and baptistery should
be lighted up with a great number of perfumed wax tapers, and scented with
exquisite odours. The catechumens marched in procession, carrying crosses, and
singing the Litany. St. Remigius conducted the king by the hand, followed by
the queen and the people. Coming near the sacred font, the holy bishop, who had
with great application softened the heart of this proud barbarian conqueror
into sentiments of Christian meekness and humility, said to him: “Bow down your
neck with meekness, great Sicambrian prince: adore what you have hitherto
burnt; and burn what you have hitherto adored.” Words which may be emphatically
addressed to every penitent, to express the change of his heart and conduct, in
renouncing the idols of his passions, and putting on the spirit of sincere
Christian piety and humility. The king was baptized by St. Remigius on
Christmas-day, as St. Avitus assures us. 13
St. Remigius afterwards baptized Albofleda, the king’s sister, and three
thousand persons of his army, that is, of the Franks, who were yet only a body
of troops dispersed among the Gauls. Albofleda died soon after, and the king
being extremely afflicted at her loss, St. Remigius wrote him a letter of consolation,
representing to him the happiness of such a death in the grace of baptism, by
which we ought to believe she had received the crown of virgins. 14 Lantilda, another sister of Clovis, who had fallen into the Arian
heresy, was reconciled to the Catholic faith, and received the unction of the
holy chrism, that is, says Fleury, confirmation; though some think it only a
rite used in the reconciliation of certain heretics. The king, after his
baptism, bestowed many lands on St. Remigius, who distributed them to several
churches, as he did the donations of several others among the Franks, lest they
should imagine he had attempted their conversion out of interest. He gave a
considerable part to St. Mary’s church at Laon, where he had been brought up;
and established Genebald, a nobleman skilled in profane and divine learning,
first bishop of that see. He had married a niece of St. Remigius, but was
separated from her to devote himself to the practices of piety. Such was the
original of the bishopric of Laon, which before was part of the diocess of
Rheims. St. Remigius also constituted Theodore bishop of Tournay in 487. St.
Vedast, bishop of Arras in 498, and of Cambray in 510. He sent Antimund to
preach the faith to the Morini, and to found the church of Terouenne. Clovis
built churches in many places, conferred upon them great riches, and by an
edict invited all his subjects to embrace the Christian faith. St. Avitus,
bishop of Vienne, wrote to him a letter of congratulation, upon his baptism,
and exhorts him to send ambassadors to the remotest German nations beyond the
Rhine, to solicit them to open their hearts to the faith.
When Clovis was preparing to march against Alaric, in
506, St. Remigius sent him a letter of advice how he ought to govern his people
so as to draw down upon himself the divine blessings.” 15
“Choose,” said he, “wise counsellors, who will be an honour to your reign.
Respect the clergy. Be the father and protector of your people; let it be your
study to lighten as much as possible all the burdens which the necessities of
the state may oblige them to bear: comfort and relieve the poor; feed the
orphans; protect widows; suffer no extortion. Let the gate of your palace be
open to all, that every one may have recourse to you for justice: employ your
great revenues in redeeming captives,” &c. 16
Clovis after his victories over the Visigoths, and the conquest of Toulouse,
their capital in Gaul, sent a circular letter to all the bishops in his
dominions, in which he allowed them to give liberty to any of the captives he
had taken, but desired them only to make use of this privilege in favour of
persons of whom they had some knowledge. 17
Upon the news of these victories of Clovis over the Visigoths, Anastatius, the
eastern emperor, to court his alliance against the Goths, who had principally
concurred to the extinction of the western empire, sent him the ornaments and
titles of Patrician, Consul, and Augustus: from which time he was habited in
purple, and styled himself Augustus. This great conqueror invaded Burgundy to
compel King Gondebald to allow a dower to his queen, and to revenge the murder
of her father and uncle; but was satisfied with the yearly tribute which the
tyrant promised to pay him. The perfidious Arian afterwards murdered his third
brother; whereupon Clovis again attacked and vanquished him; but at the
entreaty of Clotildis, suffered him to reign tributary to him, and allowed his
son Sigismund to ascend the throne after his death. Under the protection of
this great monarch St. Remigius wonderfully propagated the gospel of Christ by
the conversion of a great part of the French nation; in which work God endowed
him with an extraordinary gift of miracles, as we are assured not only by
Hincmar, Flodoard, and all other historians who have mentioned him, but also by
other incontestable monuments and authorities. Not to mention his Testament, in
which mention is made of his miracles, the bishops who were assembled in the celebrated
conference that was held at Lyons against the Arians in his time, declared they
were stirred up to exert their zeal in defence of the Catholic faith by the
example of Remigius, “Who,” say they, 18
“hath every where destroyed the altars of the idols by a multitude of miracles
and signs.” The chief among these prelates were Stephen bishop of Lyons, St.
Avitus of Vienne, his brother Apollinaris of Valence, and Eonius of Arles. They
all went to wait upon Gondebald, the Arian king of the Burgundians, who was at
Savigny, and entreated him to command his Arian bishops to hold a public
conference with them. When he showed much unwillingness they all prostrated
themselves before him, and wept bitterly. The king was sensibly affected at the
sight, and kindly raising them up, promised to give them an answer soon after.
They went back to Lyons, and the king returning thither the next day, told them
their desire was granted. It was the eve of St. Justus, and the Catholic
bishops passed the whole night in the church of that saint in devout prayer;
the next day, at the hour appointed by the king, they repaired to his palace,
and, before him and many of his senators, entered upon the disputation, St.
Avitus speaking for the Catholics, and one Boniface for the Arians. The latter
answered only by clamours and injurious language, treating the Catholics as
worshippers of three Gods. The issue of a second meeting, some days after, was
the same with that of the first: and many Arians were converted. Gondebald
himself, sometime after, acknowledged to St. Avitus, that he believed the Son
and the Holy Ghost to be equal to the Father, and desired him to give him
privately the unction of the holy chrism. St. Avitus said to him, “Our Lord
declares, Whoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess
before my Father. You are a king, and have no persecution to fear, as the
apostles had. You fear a sedition among the people, but ought not to cherish
such a weakness. God does not love him, who, for an earthly kingdom, dares not
confess him before the world.” 19
The king knew not what to answer; but never had the courage to make a public profession
of the Catholic faith. 20
St. Remigius by his zealous endeavours promoted the Catholic interest in
Burgundy, and entirely crushed both idolatry and the Arian heresy in the French
dominions. In a synod he converted, in his old age, an Arian bishop who came
thither to dispute against him. 21
King Clovis died in 511. St. Remigius survived him many years, and died in the
joint reign of his four sons, on the 13th of January in the year 533, according
to Rivet, and in the ninety-fourth year of his age, having been bishop above
seventy years. The age before the irruption of the Franks had been of all
others the most fruitful in great and learned men in Gaul; but studies were
there at the lowest ebb from the time of St. Remigius’s death, till they were
revived in the reign of Charlemagne. 22
The body of this holy archbishop was buried in St. Christopher’s church at
Rheims, and found incorrupt when it was taken up by Archbishop Hincmar in 852.
Pope Leo IX. during a council which he held at Rheims in 1049, translated it
into the church of the Benedictin abbey, which bears his name in that city, on
the 1st of October, on which day, in memory of this and other translations, he
appointed his festival to be celebrated, which, in Florus and other calendars,
was before marked on the 13th of January. In 1646 this saint’s body was again
visited by the archbishop with many honourable witnesses, and found incorrupt
and whole in all its parts; but the skin was dried, and stuck to the
winding-sheet, as it was described by Hinckmar above eight hundred years before.
It is now above twelve hundred years since his death. 23
Care, watchings, and labours were sweet to this good
pastor, for the sake of souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Knowing what
pains our Redeemer took, and how much he suffered for sinners, during the whole
course of his mortal life, and how tenderly his divine heart is ever open to
them, this faithful minister was never weary in preaching, exhorting, mourning,
and praying for those that were committed to his charge. In imitation of the
good shepherd and prince of pastors, he was always ready to lay down his life
for their safety: he bore them all in his heart, and watched over them, always
trembling lest any among them should perish, especially through his neglect:
for he considered with what indefatigable rage the wolf watched continually to
devour them. As all human endeavours are too weak to discover the wiles, and
repulse the assaults of the enemy, without the divine light and strength, this
succour he studied to obtain by humble supplications; and when he was not taken
up in external service for his flock, he secretly poured forth his soul in
devout prayer before God for himself and them.
Note 1. The
chronology of this saint’s life is determined by the following circumstances:
historians agree that he was made bishop when he was twenty-two years old. The
saint says, in a letter which he wrote in 512, that he had then been bishop
fifty-three years, and St. Gregory of Tours says, that he held that dignity
above seventy years. Consequently, he died in 533, in the ninety-fourth year of
his age; was born in 439, and in 512 was seventy-five years old. [back]
2. L. 9, ep. 7. [back]
Note 3. The
origin of the episcopal see of Rheims is obscure. On Sixtus and Sinicius, the
apostles of that province, see Marlot. (l. 1, c. 12, t. 1; Hist. Metrop. Rhem.
and chiefly Dom Dionysius de Ste. Marthe, Gallia Christiana Nov. t. 9, p. 2.)
Sixtus and Sinicius were fellow-labourers in first planting this church;
Sinicius survived and succeeded his colleague in this see. Among their
disciples many received the crown of martyrdom under Rictius Varus, about the
year 287, namely Timotheus, Apollinaris, Maurus, a priest, Macra, a virgin, and
many others whose bodies were found in the city itself, in 1640 and 1650, near
the church of St. Nicasius: their heads and arms were pierced with huge nails,
as was St. Quintin under the same tyrant: also St. Piat, &c. St. Nicasius
is counted the eleventh, and St. Remigius, the fifteenth archbishop of this
4. L. 8, c. 14. [back]
Note 5. L.
9, ep. 7. [back]
D. Brezillac, a Maurist monk, Histoire de Gaules, et des Conquêtes des Gaulois,
2 vols. 4to. printed in 1752; and Cæsar’s Commentaries De Bello Gallico, who
wrote and fought with the same inimitable spirit; also Observations sur la
Religion des Gaulois, et sur celle des Germains, par M. Freret, t. 34, des
Mémoires de Littérature de l’Académie des Inscriptions, An. 1751. [back]
7. De Civ. l. 19, c. 7. [back]
8. The Gauls became so learned and eloquent, that among
them several seemed almost to rival the greatest men among the Romans. Not to
mention Virgil, Livy, Catullus, Cornelius Nepos, the two Plinies, and other
ornaments of the Cisalpine Gaul; in the Transalpine Petronius Arbiter,
Terentius Varro, Roscius, Pompeius Trogus, and others are ranked among the
foremost in the list of Latin writers. How much the study of eloquence and the
sacred sciences nourished in Gaul when the faith was planted there, appears
from St. Martin, St. Sulpitius Severus, the two SS. Hilaries, St. Paulinus,
Salvian of Marseilles, the glorious St. Remigius, St. Apollinaris Sidonius,
Dom Rivet proves (Hist. Lit. t. 1,) that the Celtic tongue gave
place in most parts to the Roman, and seems long since extinct, except in
certain proper names, and some few other words. Samuel Bochart, the
father of conjectures, (as he is called by Menage in his Phaleg,) derives
it from the Phenician. Borel (Pref. sur les Recherches
Gauloises) and Marcel (Hist. de l’Origine de la Monarchie Françoise, t. 1, p.
11,) from the Hebrew. The
latter ingenious historian observes, that a certain analogy between all
languages shows them to have sprang from one primitive tongue; which affinity
is far more sensible between all the western languages. St. Jerom, who had
visited both countries, assures us, that in the fourth age the language was
nearly the same that was spoken at Triers and in Galatia. (in Galat. Præf. 2,
p. 255.) Valerius Andræas (in Topogr. Belgic. p. 1,) pretends the ancient
Celtic to be preserved in the modern Flemish; but this is certainly a bastard
dialect derived from the Teutonic, and no more the Celtic than it was the
language of Adam in Paradise, as Goropius Becanus pretended. The received
opinion is, that the Welch tongue, and that still used in Lower Brittany (which
are originally the same language) are a dialect of the Celtic, though not
perfectly pure; and Tacitus assures us, that the Celtic differed very little
from the language of the Britons (Vitâ Agricolæ, c. 11,) which is preserved in
the Welch tongue.
Dom Pezron, in his Antiquities of the ancient Celtes, has given
abundant proofs that the Greek, Latin, and Teutonic have borrowed a great
number of words from the Celtic, as well as from the Hebrew and Egyptian. M.
Bullet, royal professor of the university of Besançon, has thrown great light
on this subject; he proves that the primeval Celts, and Scytho-Celts, have not
only occupied the western regions of Europe, but extended themselves into Spain
and Italy; that in their progress through the latter fine country, they met the
Grecian colonies who were settled in its southern provinces; and that having
incorporated with one of those colonies on the banks of the Tyber, the Latin
tongue had in course of time been formed out of the Celtic and Greek languages.
Of this coalition of Celts and Grecians in ancient Latium, and of this original
of the Latin language, that learned antiquary has given unexceptionable proofs,
and confirms them by the testimonies of Pliny and Dionysius of Halicarnassus.
In its original the Celtic, like all other eastern tongues, after
the confusion at Babel, was confined to between four and five hundred words,
mostly monosyllables. The wants and ideas of men being but few in the earliest
times, they required but few terms to express them by; and it was in proportion
to the invention of arts, and the slow progress of science, that new terms have
been multiplied, and that signs of abstract ideas have been compounded.
Language, yet in its infancy, came only by degrees to the maturity of copious
expression, and grammatical precision. In the vast regions occupied by the
ancient Celts, their language branched out into several dialects; intermixture
with new nations on the continent, and the revolutions incident to time
produced them; and ultimately these dialects were reduced to distinct tongues,
so different in texture and syntax, that the tracing them to the true stock
would not be easy, had we not an inerrable clue to lead us in the multitude of
Celtic terms common to all. The Cumaraeg of the Welch and Gadelic of the Irish,
are living proofs of this fact. The Welch and Irish tongues preserved to our
own time in ancient writings, are undoubtedly the purest remains of the ancient
Celtic. Formed in very remote periods of time, and confined to our own western
isles, they approached nearer to their original than the Celtic tongues of the
continent; and according to the learned Leibnitz, the Celtic of Ireland (a
country the longest free from all foreign intermixture) bids fairer for
originality than that of any other Celtic people.
It is certain that the Irish Celtic, as we find it in old books,
exhibits a strong proof of its being the language of a cultivated nation.
Nervous, copious, and pathetic in phraseology, it is thoroughly free from the
consonantal harshness, which rendered the Celtic dialects of ancient Gaul
grating to Roman ears; it furnishes the poet and orator very promptly with the
vocal arms, which give energy to expression, and elevation to sentiment. This
language, in use at present among the common people of Ireland, is falling into
the corruptions which ever attend any tongue confined chiefly to the illiterate
vulgar. These corruptions are increasing daily. The Erse of Scotland is still
more corrupt, as the inhabitants of the Highlands have had no schools for the
preservation of their language for several ages, and as none of the old
writings of their bards and senachies have been preserved. The poems therefore
published lately by an able writer under the name of Ossian, are undoubtedly
his own, grafted on traditions still sung among his countrymen; and similar to
the tales lathered on Oisin, the son of Fin-mac-Cumhal, sung at present among
the common people of Ireland. It was a pleasing artifice. The fame of
composition transferred to old Ossian, returned back in due time to the true
author; and criticism, recovered from the surprise of an unguarded moment, did
him justice. The works of Ossian, if any he composed, have been long since
lost, not a trace remains; and it was soon discovered that the Celtic dialect
of a prince, represented by Mr. Macpherson as an illiterate bard of the third
century, could not be produced in the eighteenth, and that a publication of
those poems in modern Erse would prove them modern compositions; for further
observations on the ancient Celtic language, and on the poems of Ossian, we
refer the reader to O’Conor’s excellent Dissertations on the history of
Ireland, Dublin, 1766.
Bonamy (Diss. sur l’Introduct. de la Langue Lantine dans les Gauls,
Mémoires de l’Acad. des Inscriptions, vol. 24,) finds fault with Rivet for
making his assertion too general, and proves that the Franks kept to their own
old Teutonic language for some time at court, and in certain towns where they
were most numerous; and always retained some Teutonic words even after the
Latin language of the old inhabitants prevailed; but he grants, that out of
thirty French words it is hard to find one that is not derived from Latin.
Rivet would probably have granted as much; for he never denied but some few
French words are of Teutonic extraction; or that the Franks for some time
retained their own language amongst themselves, though they also learned
usually the old Latin language of the Gauls, amongst whom they settled, which
is evidently the basis of all the dialects spoken in France, except of that of
Lower-Brittany, and a considerable part of the Burgundian; yet there is
everywhere some foreign alloy, which is very considerable in Gascony, and part
of Normandy. Even the differences in the Provençal and others are mostly a
corrupt Latin. [back]
Note 9. The
Franks or French have been sought for by different authors in every province of
Germany, and by some near the Palus Mœotis; but the best writers now agree with
Spener, the most judicious of the modern German historians, (Notit. Germ.
antiqu. t. 1,) that the Franks were composed of several German nations, which
entered into a confederacy together to seek new settlements, and defend their
liberty and independency; from which liberty, according to some, they took the
name of Franks, unknown among the German nations when Tacitus wrote; but the
word Frenk or Frank signified in the old German tongue Fierce or
Cruel, as Bruzen de la Martinière observes, in his additions to
Puffendorf’s Introduction to Modern History, t. 5. The Franks are first
mentioned by the writers of the Augustan History in the reign of Gallien. From
Eumenius’s panegyric in praise of Constantine, the first book of Claudian upon
Stilico, and several passages of Apollinaris Sidonius, it appears that they
originally came chiefly from nations settled beyond the Elbe, about the present
duchies of Sleswick, and part of Holstein. This opinion is set in a favourable
light in a dissertation printed at Paris in 1748; and in another written by F.
Germon, published by F. Griffet, in his new edition of F. Daniel’s History in
1755. F. Germon places them in the countries situated between the Lower Rhine,
the Maine, the Elbe, and the Ocean, nearly the same whence the English Saxons
afterwards came; after their first migrations probably some more remote nations
had filled the void they had left. Among the Franks there were Bructeri,
Cherisci, Catici, and Sicambri; but the Salii and Ripuarii or Ansuari, were the
most considerable; the latter for their numbers, the former for their riches,
nobility, and power, say Martinière and Messieurs de Boispreaux and Sellius, in
their Histoire Générale des Provinces Unies. (in 3 vols. 4to. 1757.) Leibnitz
derives the name of Salians from the river Sala, and thinks the Salic laws, so
famous among the French, were originally established by them. F. Daniel and M.
Gundling warmly contend that they are more modern, framed since the conversion
of the Franks to Christianity. De Boispreaux and Sellius will have the laws to
be as ancient as Leibnitz advances; but acknowledge that the preface to them is
of Christian original; perhaps changed, say they, by Clovis after his baptism.
Franks settled first on the Eastern banks of the Rhine, but soon crossed it;
for Vopiscus places them on both sides of that river. The country about the
Lower Rhine, from Alsace to the Germanic ocean, is the first that was called
France, and afterwards distinguished by the name of Francia Germanica or Vetus,
afterwards eastern France, of which the part called Franconia still retains the
name. See Eccard at length in Francia Orientalis, and d’Anville, p. 18.
Peutinger’s map (or the ancient topographical description of that country,
published by Peutinger of Ausburg, but composed in the latter end of the fourth
century) places France on the right hand bank or eastern side of the Rhine. The
Franks chose their kings by lifting them upon a shield in the army. The names
of the first are Pharamund, Clodion, Merovæus, and Childeric. In Merovæus the
crown became hereditary, and from him the first race of the French kings is called
Merovingian. F. Daniel will not allow the names of these four kings before
Clovis, to belong to the history of the French monarchy, being persuaded that
they reigned only in old France beyond the Rhine, and possessed nothing in
Gaul, though they made frequent excursions into its provinces for plunder. This
novelty gave offence to many, and is warmly exploded by Du Bos, Dom Maur, Le
Gendre, and others. For it is evident from incontestable monuments produced by
Bosquet and others, that the Franks from Pharamund began to extend their
conquests in Belgic Gaul, though they sometimes met with checks. Henault
observes, they had acquired a fixed settlement about the Rhine in 287, which
was confirmed to them by the Emperor Julian in 358; that under King Clodion in
445, they became masters of Cambray and the neighbouring provinces as far as
the river Somme in Picardy. Their kings seem to have made Tournay for some time
their residence. At least the tomb of Childeric was discovered at Tournay in
1653, with undoubted marks, some of which are deposited in the king’s library
at Paris. See the Sieur Chifflet’s relation of this curious discovery, and
Mabillon’s Dissertation on the Ancient Burial-places of the kings of France.
It is an idle conceit of many painters, with Chifflet, to imagine
from the figures of bees found in this monument, that they were the arms of
France above seven hundred years before coat-armoury was thought of, which was
a badge of noble personages first invented for the sake of distinction at the tilts
and tournaments. A swarm of bees following a leader was a natural emblem for a
colony seeking a new settlement. Some think the fleur-de-lis to have been first
taken from some ill-shaped half figures of bees on old royal ornaments. See
Addition aux Dissertations concernant le Nom Patronimique de l’Auguste Maison
de France, showing that it never had a name but in each branch that of its
appanage or estate. Amsterdam,
1770, with a second Diss. Extrait concernant les Armes des Princes de la Maison
de France. The figure of the lis in the arms of France seems
borrowed from the head of the battle-axe called Francische, the usual weapon of
the ancient Franks; for it perfectly resembles it, not any of the flowers which
bear the name of lis or iris; though some reduce it to the Florentine iris,
others to the March lily. See their figures in the botanists. On the tomb of
Queen Fredegundes in the abbey of St. Germain-des-Prez, fleur-de-luces or
de-lis, are found used as ornaments in the crown and royal robes; and the same
occurs in some other ornaments, as we find them sometimes employed in the
monuments of the first English Norman kings, &c. See Montfaucon, Antiquités
de la Monarchie Francoise, t. 1, p. 31. But Philip Augustus, or rather Lewis
VII. was the first that took them for his coat of arms; and Charles VI. reduced
their number to three. According to Le Gendre, Clodion began to reign over the
Franks in 426, Merovæus in 446, Childeric in 450, and his son Clovis I. or the
Great in 481. The Romans sometimes entered into treaties with them, and
acknowledged them their allies. The King of the Franks, probably Childeric,
with his army, joined Aëtius against the Huns, and was a powerful succour to
him in the entire overthrow which he gave to Attila in 481.
Clovis conquered all Gaul, except the southern provinces, which
were before seized, part by the Burgundians, and part by the Goths. The western
empire was extinguished in 476, when the city of Rome and all Italy fell into
the hands of Odoacer, king of the Turcilingi and the Heruli, who marched
thither out of Pannonia. Nevertheless, Syagrius, son of the Roman governor
Ægidius in Gaul, still kept an army on foot there, though without a master,
there being no longer any Roman emperor. Clovis, who passed the five first years
of his reign in peace, marched against him in 486, defeated him in a great
battle near Soissons, and afterwards, in 489, caused his head to be cut off.
Extending his conquests, he possessed himself of Tongres in 491, and of Rheims
in 493, the same year in which he married St. Clotildis. After the battle of
Tolbiac, in 496, he subdued the whole country as far as the Rhine; and in 497
the Roman army about the Loire, and the people of Armorica, who were become
independent and had received new colonies from Britain, submitted to him. In
507 he vanquished and slew Alaric, king of the Visigoths, with his own hands,
in a single combat at the head of the two armies near Poitiers, and conquered
all the provinces that lie between the Loire and the Pyreneans; but being
discomfited by Theodoric before Arles in 509, he left the Visigoths in
possession of Septimania, now called Languedoc, and the neighbouring provinces;
and the Burgundians, possessed of those territories which they had seized one
hundred years before. The Abbé Dubos (Histoire Critique de l’Etablissement de
la Monarchie Françoise dans les Gauls, 2 vols. quarto) endeavours to prove that
the Franks became masters of the greater part of Gaul, not as invaders, but by
alliances with the Romans. It is certain they gained the friendship of most of
the old inhabitants, pretending they came only to rescue and protect them in
their liberties; and their government was more mild and desirable than that of
the Goths or Burgundians, to whom the Gauls must have otherwise been left a
prey. Neither did the Franks extirpate the conquered Gauls, but mixed with
them, and even learned their language. Nor did they deprive the old inhabitants
of their private estates, except in some particular cases; these forfeited
estates given to the Francs were called Salic lands, and subject to the Salic
law, by which all contests about them were to be determined by a combat of the
parties and their friends. The other estates enjoyed by the Franks consisted of
civil benefices, after the Roman custom, from which that word was applied to
ecclesiastical livings. These benefices were governments, lucrative dignities,
or estates conferred only for the life of the grantee. Under the second race of
kings in France many powerful persons made these benefices hereditary in their
families, in imitation of the Lombards, from whom fiefs and the feudatory laws
(things unknown among the Romans) were derived. By these fiefs the kingdoms of
Italy, Germany, and France were extremely weakened; the kings in France began
from the twelfth century to recover such alienations, and abolish all petty
sovereignties in their dominions; a great project, which was not entirely
completed till within our memory.
additions were made to the Salic laws by several ancient French kings, so that
the primitive articles are not to be distinguished. The most famous point is
the exclusion of females from the succession to the crown, in which see the
learned dissertation of Abbé Vertot, upon the origin of the Salic law, inserted
in Mémoires de l’Acad. des Inscript. et Belles Lettres, t. 2. The most curious
editions of the Salic law, divided into several chapters, are that of Fr.
Pithou at Paris, in 1602, with a glossary of obscure terms and Teutonic words;
that of Melchior Goldast, in his Collectio Constitutionum Imperialium, t. 3, p.
15, at Offenbach, in 1610. Another beautiful one at Antwerp in 1649, with an
excellent glossary compiled by Godfrey Wendelin; another at Paris, with the
notes of the great magistrate, Jerom Bignon, together with the formularies of
Marculsus; another by Baluze, with the capitulars of Charlemagne, who caused
the Salic law to be revised; that of Eccard, together with the law of the
Ripuarians; and lastly, that in Schitter’s Thesaurus Antiquitatum Teutonicarum,
in 1727. On
the Original Constitution of the Government of the Franks, see F. Griffet,
Mélanges Historiques et Critiques, t. 1, p. 1; Diss. against Boulainvilliers et
Gourcy, Quel fut l’état des Personnes en France sous la première et seconde
Race de nos Rois, 1769. [back]
10. S. Greg. Turon. Hist. l. 2, c. 26, 27, 28, 29,
Note 11. See
Henschenius ad 6 Febr. in S. Vedasto, and F. Barre, Hist. d’Allemagne, t. 1,
sub fine. [back]
Note 12. D’Anville
l’Etats formés après la Chute de l’Empire Romain en Occident, 4to. 1771. [back]
Note 13. Fleury,
l. 30, n. 46. &c. Avitus, ep. 166, &c. See Suysken, Sec. 7. p.
14. In App. op. S. Greg. Tur. p. 1326, et apud Marlot,
Hist. Eccl. Rhemens. [back]
Note 15. Conc.
t. 4, p. 1402. [back]
t. 4, p. 1402. Du Chesne, Hist. Francor.
Script. t. 1, p. 836, and Append. Op. S. Greg. Turon. p. 1327. [back]
Note 17. We
have two other letters of St. Remigius extant, written to fellow-bishops, in
all, four, not five, as Baillet mistook. The Testament of St. Remigius, even
without the interpolations found in some copies, is rejected by Rivet, &c.,
though it is judged genuine by Mabillon, Du Cange, and Ceillier, and was known
to Hincmar and Flodoard. The churches of Rheims, Laon, Arras, and others enjoy
to this day the lands which are by it bequeathed to them. St. Remigius gave to
the church of Rheims a silver chalice, ornamented with several images, and on
it he caused three verses to be engraved, which express the Catholic doctrine
concerning the blessed eucharist.
hinc populus vitam de sanguine sacro,
æternus quem fudit vulnere Christus.
reddit Domino sua vota sacerdos.”
in vità Remigii
This chalice was sold in Hincmar’s
time for the ransom of captives taken by the Normans. [back]
Conc. t. 4, p. 1318. Spicileg. t. 5, p. 110. [back
Note 19. S. Greg. Tur. Hist. l. 2, c. 34.
Note 20. In the Gombette law, framed by this
Gondebald, king of Burgundy, art. 45, the first mention is made of duels, to
which men were commanded to refer those contests which they refused to
determine by oaths. The Lombard laws in Italy authorized the same, but only with
a buckler and clubs, cum fustibus et clypeo. This execrable
practice became more pernicious when more dangerous weapons were used, and it
was usurped by private authority; and though it was of barbarous extraction,
unknown to all civilized nations most renowned for true valour, (as the Jews,
Greeks, and Romans,) and itself the basest as well as the most horrible and
unnatural crime, it has been able, by maxims equally shocking to reason and
religion, to pass, by a false prostitution of those names, for a test of
courage, and a point of honour; especially since the challenge sent by Francis
I. of France to the Emperor Charles V. whom he could no longer face with an
army, as Spelman takes notice.
Note 21. Conc. t. 4, p. 1572, from Hincmar.
and Flodoard, c. 16.
Littérar. de la Fr. t. 1, 2, 3. [back
Note 23. Gall. Chr. Nov. t. 9, p. 13, et 220. [back]
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume
X: October. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/10/011.html
San Remigio di Reims Vescovo
Laon (Francia), ca. 440 - Reims (Francia), ca. 533
Etimologia: Remigio = che sta al remo, rematore,
Emblema: Bastone pastorale, Fiala d'olio
Martirologio Romano: A Reims sempre nella Gallia belgica,
ora in Francia, deposizione di san Remigio, vescovo: dopo che il re Clodoveo fu
iniziato al sacro fonte battesimale e ai sacramenti della fede, egli convertì i
Franchi a Cristo e, dopo oltre sessant’anni di episcopato, lasciò questa vita
ragguardevole per santità.
Nato cittadino romano,
Remigio vede crollare nel 476 l’Impero di Occidente e sparire il dominio di
Roma nella sua Gallia, che passa in mano alle tribù barbariche di Burgundi,
Alamanni e Visigoti. Sul finire del V secolo, il popolo germanico dei Franchi
occupa via via il Paese, al quale darà infine anche il proprio nome: Francia.
Remigio appartiene al ceto dei gallo romani, legati da generazioni alla cultura
latina, da cui ora provengono molti uomini di Chiesa. Viene acclamato vescovo
di Reims prima di compiere i trent’anni, e un suo fratello di nome Principio
sarà vescovo di Soissons.
All’epoca, la Gallia è un arcipelago di isole e isolette cattoliche, in un mare
formato da Burgundi e Visigoti di fede ariana, mentre le campagne sono ancora
pagane, come a loro modo pagani sono anche i Franchi, condotti in Gallia dal re
Childerico. Meno evoluti degli altri popoli, i Franchi sono però dei grandi
combattenti (non portano elmo né corazza) e hanno reso buoni servizi militari a
Roma in passato.
Morto nel 482 Childerico, gli succede il figlio Clodoveo quindicenne. A lui
Remigio, vescovo cattolico in territorio franco, scrive lettere rispettose e
insieme autorevoli. Una di esse dice: "Vegliate a che il Signore non
distolga lo sguardo da voi. Consigliatevi con i vostri vescovi. Divertitevi con
i giovani, ma deliberate coi vecchi". Da un lato lo ammonisce, dall’altro
riconosce la sua sovranità: un muoversi anche da politico, che è inevitabile
per Remigio, "evangelizzatore a vita" tra i Franchi.
E’ un aiuto prezioso per Clodoveo, perché favorisce l’adesione degli altri
vescovi e dei gruppi galloromani. Così il re giungerà a essere padrone del
Paese, dopo la vittoria del 507 a Vouillé sui Visigoti, dando così l’inizio
alla dinastia dei Merovingi. Ma non c’è soltanto la politica. Su di lui
influisce fortemente in senso religioso la moglie Clotilde, che è già cattolica;
influisce Remigio, che lo istruisce personalmente nella fede. E molti atti
successivi del re Clodoveo rivelano una religiosità personale autentica. Si
arriva così al suo battesimo, per opera del vescovo, a Reims, in un giorno di
Natale di un anno incerto. Alcuni sostengono fosse il 497. In un’iscrizione
della fine del XV secolo a Reims si legge: "L’an de grace cinq cent le roy
Clovis – receut a Reims par saint Remy baptesme". Saremmo allora al 500.
Ma dopo quel Natale, quale che sia, riprende il lungo, feriale lavoro di
Remigio per annunciare il Vangelo a chi non è re né principe; senza poeti e
cronisti al seguito. Una fatica durata quasi settant’anni, secondo una
tradizione. Un’immersione totale nei suoi doveri, oscuramente portata avanti, e
di cui si parlerà soltanto dopo la sua morte, quando Remigio sarà acclamato
santo direttamente dalla voce popolare.
Autore: Domenico Agasso
SOURCE : http://www.santiebeati.it/dettaglio/72600
Albert Lecoy de La Marche. « De l'interprétation d'une lettre de saint Rémi à Clovis », Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes
, 1866, Volume 27, Numéro 27, pp. 59-74 :