mercredi 12 décembre 2012

Saint VALÉRY, abbé

Saint Valéry


(† 619)

Saint Valéry était un enfant de l'Auvergne. Son père l'appliqua tout jeune à la garde des troupeaux, et c'est en s'acquittant de cet emploi qu'il apprit à lire par lui-même. Sa première lecture fut le Psautier. Il aimait à méditer de longues heures en gardant ses troupeaux, et il était ravi toutes les fois qu'il entendait les chants sacrés dans les églises. Jamais on ne le vit entendre sans protestation des paroles inconvenantes, que sa délicatesse de conscience ne pouvait souffrir. Un jour, plein du désir de sa perfection, il s'enfuit, sans la permission de son père, dans un couvent où un de ses oncles était religieux. Son père irrité vint le chercher; mais ni les caresses, ni les menaces paternelles, ni l'intervention des moines, ne purent le faire sortir, et peu de temps après, son père lui-même, assistant à sa prise d'habit, versait des larmes de joie.

Valéry, après avoir édifié longtemps le monastère par sa sainteté, se sentit inspiré d'aller se mettre, à Luxeuil, sous la direction du célèbre saint Colomban. Le Saint lui donna une partie du jardin à cultiver; Valéry y mit tant de zèle et d'application, qu'en très peu de jours tous les insectes qui le dévastaient disparurent, ce que le maître attribua à l'obéissance de son disciple bien plus qu'à son travail.

Un jour, Valéry se sentit enflammé du désir de la conquête des âmes; il obtint du roi Clotaire II la solitude de Leuconay, à l'embouchure de la Somme, et y bâtit un monastère où sa vertu attira bientôt une multitude de disciples. Parmi les miracles nombreux par lesquels le Ciel confirma sa réputation de vertu, on raconte la résurrection d'un supplicié. Il délivra un grand nombre de possédés. A sa seule vue, les démons s'écriaient: "Voilà notre ennemi qui vient nous tourmenter!" Un jour, saisi d'indignation à la vue d'un arbre auquel les païens de la contrée rendaient un culte insensé, il dit à l'enfant qui l'accompagnait: "Va, et au nom de Dieu arrache cet arbre maudit!" L'enfant obéit, l'arbre tombe avec fracas, et les païens ne tardent pas à se convertir.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

Saint Valéy apparaissant à Hugues Capet
Grandes Chroniques de France, XVe siecle 
conservées à la Bibliothèque Nationale de France


Abbot in Picardy


Saint Valery was born at Auvergne in the sixth century, where in his childhood he kept his father’s sheep. He desired to study and begged a teacher in a nearby school to trace the letters and teach them to him, which the schoolmaster was happy to do. He soon knew how to read and write, and the first use he made of his knowledge was to transcribe the Psalter; he then learned it by heart. He began to frequent the church, and love of his religion soon burnt strongly in his heart.

He was still young when he took the monastic habit in the neighboring monastery of Saint Anthony. No persuasion could convince him to return home when his father came to attempt that move, and the Abbot, recognizing that his firmness was of divine origin, said to the monks, “Let us not reject the gift of God.” His father eventually was present when he received the tonsure, and shed tears of joy, having accepted his son’s determination.

It was soon visible to all that God destined him for some high role in the Church. He left for a more distant monastery in Auxerre, and there he seemed to live a life more angelic than human. A rich lord of the region, after talking with him one day, disposed of his entire fortune without even returning home, to embrace religious poverty.

At that time Saint Columban was preaching in Gaul; Valery with some fellow monks desired to hear him and went to Luxeuil, where they were not disappointed. They asked to be received into that monastery in 594 and were accepted. A corner of the garden which Valery was assigned to cultivate was entirely spared when insects devastated the rest. The holy Abbot Columban allowed him to make his religious profession, and he remained at Luxeuil for some fifteen years. He was a witness when the local king drove away Saint Columban from his foundation, as a foreigner in the land. Soon afterward the monastery was invaded by strangers, but finally Saint Valery and the new Abbot, Saint Eustasius, succeeded in recovering it.

Some time afterwards Saint Valery with another monk left to carry the faith elsewhere, and decided with the permission of King Clotaire to remain as hermits in the region of Amiens. He raised to life a poor condemned man after he had been hanged, and the word of the sanctity of this monk soon spread. The wilderness of Leuconaus was transformed into a community, where from the numerous monastic cells and church the praises of the Lord rose up night and day. In 613, three years after his arrival, this locality became a monastery where the religious lived in common.

A man who had become unable to walk was cured by Saint Valery and replaced him later as Abbot of this monastery; he is today Saint Blitmond. Many more miracles illustrated his life of prayer and sacrifice. Saint Valery died in 619, and his tomb became celebrated by numerous miracles. A basilica was raised there in his honor, at the site where one of his disciples had felled a tree, object of pagan superstitions, at a word from the Saint.

Source: Les Petits Bollandistes. Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 4.


Walaricus of Leucone, Abbot (RM)
(also known as Valéry, Walericus)

Born in Auvergne, France; died in Leucone, Picardy, France, on December 12, c. 622; feast of his translation is December 12.

Valéry discovered Benedictine life at Issoire, developed it at Auxerre, fructified it at Luxeuil under Saint Columbanus, and multiplied it with missionary work at Leuconnais (Leuconay), in the Somme region of northern France.

Born into a peasant family in the Auvergne, Valéry tended his father's sheep in his childhood, which gave him plenty of time to develop his prayer life. Out of an ardent desire to grow in spiritual knowledge, he learned to read at an early age and memorized the Psalter. Dissatisfied with his life as a shepherd, he took the monastic habit in the neighboring monastery of St. Antony's at Autumo.

His fervor from the first day of monastic life led him to live the rule perfectly. Sincere humility permitted him to meekly and cheerfully subjected himself to everyone. Seeking a stricter rule, he migrated to the more austere monastery of St. Germanus, where he was received by Bishop Saint Anacharius of Auxerre. He was drawn to Luxeuil by the reputation of the penitential lives of its monks and the spiritual wisdom of Saint Columbanus. There he spent many years, always esteeming himself an unprofitable servant and a slothful monk, who stood in need of the severest and harshest rules and superiors. Next to sin, he dreaded nothing so much as the applause of men or a reputation of sanctity. At Luxeuil he also distinguished himself as a horticulturalist--the preservation of his fruit and vegetables against the ravages of insects that destroyed most other crops was considered miraculous.

When Saint Columbanus was banished from Luxeuil by King Theodoric, the monastery was placed in Valéry's hands until he was sent by Saint Eustasius with his fellow-monk Waldolanus to preach the Gospel in Neustria. There King Clotaire II gave them the territory of Leucone in Picardy, near the mouth of the river Somme. In 611, with the permission of Bishop Bertard of Amiens, they built a chapel and two cells. Saint Valéry by his preaching and the example of his virtue, converted many and attracted fervent disciples with whom he laid the foundation of a monastery.

His fasts he sometimes prolonged for six days, eating only on the Sunday; and he used no other bed than twigs laid on the floor. His time was entirely occupied with preaching, prayer, reading, and manual labor. By this he earned something for the relief of the poor, and he often repeated to others, "The more cheerfully we give to those who are in distress, the more readily will God give us what we ask of him."

When Valéry died, cures were claimed at his tomb and a cultus developed, which eventually spread to England during the Norman Conquest. William the Conqueror exposed Valéry's relics for public veneration. He was invoked for a favorable wind for the expedition in 1066, which sailed from Saint-Valéry

Valéry is honored at Chester Abbey in England and in France, where a famous monastery arose from his cells. His vita was carefully written in 660, by Raimbert, second abbot of Leucone after him. King Richard the Lion Hearted had his relics restored to Saint-Valéry-en-Caux; however, his original abbey later recovered them. Two towns in the Somme district are called Saint- Valéry after him, and there are several dedications to him in England as well (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).