Évêque de Bénévent
SAINT BARBAT naquit dans le pays de Bénévent, en Italie, au commencement du VIIe siècle.
Ses parents, qui craignaient DIEU, mirent tout en œuvre pour lui procurer une éducation chrétienne, et ils eurent la consolation de voir que leurs soins n'étaient point inutiles.
Dès ses premières années, le jeune Barbat montrait des dispositions qui présageaient l'éminente sainteté à laquelle il parvint dans la suite.
Dés qu'il eut atteint l'âge requis, il reçut les saints Ordres. Il s'était rendu digne de cet honneur par un grand amour pour l'Écriture sainte, par la simplicité et l'innocence de ses mœurs et par le zèle extraordinaire avec lequel il avançait continuellement dans les voies de la perfection.
Le rare talent qu'il avait pour la prédication fit confier à son ministère une petite ville voisine de Bénévent. Le Saint s'aperçut bientôt qu'il avait affaire à des paroissiens intraitables et ennemis de tout bien. Son zèle ne fit que les aigrir contre lui, et malgré son humilité profonde et sa patience inaltérable, il fut forcé par la calomnie de quitter son église.
Du moins, il remporta de sa mission l'avantage d'avoir profité des épreuves que DIEU avait permises pour purifier son cœur, en le détachant de plus en plus du monde et de lui-même.
Barbat revint à Bénévent, où il fut reçu avec joie par tous ceux qui connaissaient la sainteté de sa vie. Il y travailla à l'extirpation des abus, non seulement par ses discours, mais encore par des prières ferventes et par des jeûnes rigoureux qu'il s'imposait.
Le bien qu'il y opéra l'en fit nommer évêque. Il mourut plein de mérites en 682, âgé de soixante-dix ans.
La vie de saint Barbat nous montre que DIEU ne veut pas toujours attacher le succès à nos efforts, et qu'il faut se tenir en paix, quoi qu'il arrive, quand on a fait son devoir. Les épines et les échecs du zèle servent à la sanctification des pasteurs des âmes, et sont souvent pour l'avenir un germe de sanctification qui produira des fruits en son temps.
DIEU féconde l'Eglise par le sang, les sueurs et les mérites de Ses apôtres. L'homme plante, DIEU Seul fait croître. Le succès expose les ministres de DIEU à la vaine gloire. La persécution, l'endurcissement des âmes, leur donnent occasion de pratiquer la résignation, l'humilité, la confiance en DIEU Seul.
JESUS-CHRIST ne prêcha que trois ans : il choisit peu d'apôtres, fit peu de disciples, vit un peuple ingrat se soulever contre lui et le condamner à une mort ignominieuse ; cependant c'est Lui et Lui Seul qui a opéré le salut du monde.
C'est du haut de la croix qu'il a attiré tout à Lui. Les sacrifices du zèle apostolique ne sont jamais perdus : tôt ou tard, DIEU en tire profit pour Sa gloire.
Pratique. Ne vous laissez jamais abattre dans l'insuccès : Attendez l'heure de Dieu.
Saint Barbatus of Benevento
Also known as
• Barbas of Benevento
• 19 February
Priest at an early age. Fiery preacher whose flock turned on him because of his zeal; he finally resigned his parish and returned home. There he fought against a resurgent paganism involving the worship of a golden viper and animal skin hung in a tree. For unrelated reasons, the army of Emperor Constans, besieged Benevento; the locals soon listened to the preacher, renounced their errors, and stopped their idolatrous practices. Barbatus assured them that the siege would end; it did. The saint cut down the tree with his own hand, and melted down the golden viper to make a chalice for the altar. Bishop on 10 March 663. Eradicated superstition in the state. Assisted in a council called by Pope Agatho at Rome, Italy in 680. Attended the Sixth General Council held at Constantinople against the Monothelites in 681.
• c.610 at Benevento, Italy
• 29 February 682 at Benevento, Italy of natural causes
• Benevento, Italy
Barbatus of Benevento B (RM)
(also known as Barbas)
Born in the area of Benevento, Italy; died there on February 29, 682. Born of Christian parents, Barbatus was raised to sanctity. Devout meditation on the holy scriptures was his chief entertainment. His innocence, simplicity, and purity of heart qualified him for the service of the altar, to which he was ordained as soon as the canons of the church would allow it.
Barbatus was immediately employed by the bishop in preaching because he had an extraordinary talent for it. Later he was made curate of Saint Basil's in Morcona near Benevento, a typical parish where the people hesitated to change their sinful ways. As they desired only to slumber on in their sins, they could not bear the remonstrations of their pastor who endeavored to wake them to a sense of their miseries and to sincere repentance. They, in turn, treated him as a disturber of the peace and violently persecuted him.
Their malice was answered by Barbatus's patience and humility, and his character shining still more brightly was an even greater reproach. Finally, he was forced to withdraw from them. But by these fiery trials, God purified his heart from all earthly attachments, and perfectly crucified it to the world.
Barbatus returned to Benevento were he was received with joy by those who were acquainted with his innocence and sanctity. Barbatus was the enemy of superstition, which still prevailed among the Lombards even after the conversion of the Arian king Grimoald. The people expressed a religious veneration for a golden viper and prostrated themselves before it. They also paid superstitious honor to a tree on which they hung the skin of a wild animal.
Barbatus preached zealously against these abuses, and added fervent prayer and rigorous fasting for the conversion of his people. At length he roused their attention by foretelling the calamities they were to suffer from the army of Emperor Constans, who, soon after landing in Italy, besieged Benevento. Soon they were listening to the preacher and renounced their errors and idolatrous practices. Then Barbatus assured them that the siege would be ended and it so happened. Upon their repentance the saint cut down the tree with his own hand and melted down the golden viper to make a chalice for the altar.
Ildebrand, bishop of Benevento, died during the siege. Once the peace was restored, Saint Barbatus was consecrated bishop on March 10, 663. As bishop he completed the work of eradicating every trace of superstition in the state.
In 680, Barbatus assisted in a council called by Pope Agatho at Rome and the following year attended the Sixth General Council held at Constantinople against the Monothelites. He died shortly after the council about age 70. He is honored as one of the chief patrons of Benevento (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
ST BARBATUS, OR BARBAS,
CONFESSOR, BISHOP OF BENEVENTO A.D. 682
Feast: February 19
From his two authentic lives in Bollandus t. 3, Febr. p. 139. See Ughelli, Italia Sacra, t. 8, p. 13.
St Barbatus was born in the territory of Benevento, in Italy, toward the end of the pontificate of St. Gregory the Great, in the beginning of the seventh century. His parents gave him a Christian education, and Barbatus in his youth laid the foundation of that eminent sanctity which recommends him to our veneration.
Devout meditation on the holy scriptures was his chief entertainment; and the innocence, simplicity, and purity of his manners, and extraordinary progress in all virtues, qualified him for the service of the altar, to which he was assumed by taking holy orders as soon as the canons of the church would allow it. He was immediately employed by his bishop in preaching, for which he had an extraordinary talent; and, after some time, made curate of St. Basil's, in Morcona, a town near Benevento. His parishioners were steeled in their irregularities, and averse from whatever looked like establishing order and discipline amongst them. As they desired only to slumber on in their sins, they could not bear the remonstrances of their pastor, who endeavoured to awake them to a sense of their miseries, and to sincere repentance: they treated him as a disturber of their peace, and persecuted him with the utmost violence. Finding their malice conquered by his patience and humility, and his character shining still more bright, they had recourse to slanders, in which, such was their virulence and success, that he was obliged to withdraw his charitable endeavours amongst them. By these fiery trials, God purified his heart from all earthly attachments, and perfectly crucified it to the world.
Barbatus returned to Benevento, where he was received with joy by those who were acquainted with his innocence and sanctity. The seed of Christianity had been first sown at Benevento by St. Potin, who is said to have been sent thither by St. Peter, and is looked upon as the first bishop of this see. We have no names of his successors till St. Januarius, by whom this church was exceedingly increased, and who was honoured with the crown of martyrdom in 305. Totila, the Goth, laid the city of Benevento in ruins in 545. When St. Barbatus entered upon his ministry in that city, the Christians themselves retained many idolatrous superstitions, which even their duke, or prince Romuald, authorized by his example, though son of Grimoald, king of the Lombards, who had edified all Italy by his conversion. They expressed a religious veneration to a golden viper, and prostrated themselves before it: they paid also a superstitious honour to a tree, on which they hung the skin of a wild beast, and these ceremonies were closed by public games, in which the skin served for a mark at which bowmen shot arrows over their shoulder. St. Barbatus preached zealously against these abuses, and laboured long to no purpose: yet desisted not, but joined his exhortations with fervent prayer and rigorous fasting, for the conversion of this unhappy people. At length he roused their attention by foretelling the distress of their city, and the calamities which it was to suffer from the army of the emperor Constans, who, landing soon after in Italy, laid siege to Benevento. In their extreme distress, and still more grievous alarms and fears, they listened to the holy preacher, and, entering into themselves, renounced their errors and idolatrous practices. Hereupon St. Barbatus gave them the comfortable assurance that the siege should be raised and the emperor worsted, which happened as he had foretold. Upon their repentance, the saint with his own hand cut down the tree which was the object of their superstition, and afterward melted down the golden viper which they adored, of which he made a chalice for the use of the altar.
Ildebrand, Bishop of Benevento, dying during the siege, after the public tranquillity was restored St. Barbatus was consecrated bishop on the 10th of March, 663; for this see was only raised to the archiepiscopal dignity by Pope John XIII about the year 965. Barbatus, being invested with the episcopal character, pursued and completed the good work which he had so happily begun, and destroyed every trace or the least remains of superstition in the prince's closet, and in the whole state. In the year 680 he assisted in a council held by Pope Agatho at Rome, and the year following in the sixth general council held at Constantinople against the Monothelites.
He did not long survive this great assembly, for he died on the 29th of February, 682, being about seventy years old, almost nineteen of which he had spent in the episcopal chair. He is named in the Roman Martyrology, and honoured at Benevento among the chief patrons of that city.
Many sinners are moved by alarming sensible dangers or calamities to enter into themselves, on whom the terrors of the divine judgment make very little impression. The reason can only be a supine neglect of serious reflection, and a habit of considering them only transiently, and as at a distance; for it is impossible for any one who believes these great truths, if he takes a serious review of them, ant has them present to his mind, to remain insensible: transient glances effect not a change of heart. Amongst the pretended conversions which sickness daily produces, very few bear the characters of sincerity, as appears by those who, after their recovery, live on in their former lukewarmness and disorders. St. Austin, in a sermon which he made upon the news that Rome had been sacked by the barbarians, relates a that not long before, at Constantinople, upon the appearance of an unusual meteor, and a rumour of a pretended prediction that the city would be destroyed by fire from heaven, the inhabitants were seized with a panic fear, all began to do penance like Ninive, and fled, with the emperor at their head, to a great distance from the city. After the term appointed for its pretended destruction was elapsed, they sent scouts to the city which they had left quite empty, and, hearing that it was still standing, returned to it, and with their fears forgot their repentance and all their good resolutions. To prevent the danger of penitents imposing upon themselves by superficial conversions, St. Barbatus took all necessary precautions to improve their first dispositions to a sincere and perfect change of heart, and to cut off and remove all dangerous occasions of temptations.
1 "The devil was sick, the devil a monk would be ; The devil was well, the devil no monk was he."
2. Aug. Serm. de Excidio Urbis, c. 6, t. vi. p. 627, ed. Ben.
(Taken from Vol. II of The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company)
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