jeudi 5 février 2015

Saint AVIT, évêque


Saint Avit, évêque

Issu d'une noble famille, il succéda en 480 à son père comme évêque de Vienne, en Gaule. Il est aussi le frère de Saint-Apollinaire. Très respecté par les deux principaux souverains de l’époque (Clovis, le roi des Francs, et Gondebaud, le roi de Bourgogne), il profite de sa situation pour racheter de nombreux prisonniers. Il combat aussi l’arianisme et parvient à convertir Sigismond, le fils de Gondebaud. Excellent diplomate, bon orateur, écrivain fécond, il a laissé plusieurs traités de théologie, des homélies et des poèmes. Il eut une influence certaine sur la burgonde Clotilde, future reine des Francs. Il mourut en 525.


Saint Avit de Vienne

Évêque de Vienne ( 525)

Cet évêque de Vienne en Gaule, issu d'une noble famille, succéda à son père Hesychius qui était lui-même évêque de Vienne. Le roi Clovis, même avant son baptême, le consultait. Par son prestige, sa foi et son savoir-faire, il fut l'un des plus grands artisans de la disparition de l'arianisme en Gaule. Excellent diplomate, bon orateur, écrivain fécond, il a laissé plusieurs traités de théologie, des homélies et des poèmes fort bien versifiés.


"Avit, comme son frère Apollinaire, est né à Vienne après 450. A la mort de son père Hesychius, il lui succède sur le siège de Vienne vers 494-518. Il fut l’âme de la vie catholique dans le royaume des Burgondes, encore en partie ariens. A son initiative, en 517, vingt cinq évêques se réunirent en concile à Epaone (Albon?). Il s’est félicité de la conversion de Clovis et il amènera à la foi catholique le roi burgonde Sigismond. Avit a laissé des homélies, des lettres, des poèmes de qualité. Il meurt vers 525 à Vienne où son souvenir est toujours vivant." (source: diocèse de Valence)

Des internautes nous signalent: 

- a converti le Roi des Burgondes Sigismond et sa nièce Clotilde, future reine des Francs.

- Fin lettré et orateur brillant, St Avit (Avitus) a écrit de nombreuses homélies qui nous renseignent sur cette période troublée, dont une lettre de 'conduites et recommandations' à Clovis, le lendemain de son baptême. Son livre en vers sur l'origine du monde, aurait partiellement disparu dans l'incendie de Vienne. Il convertit son ami le roi de Burgondie, Gondebaud, arien, à la Sainte Trinité. Ce dernier lui demande alors de combattre l'arianisme virulent de Constantinople enseigné par Eutychès et Sabellius. Il baptise l'héritier royal Saint Sigismond fondateur de l'Abbaye de St Maurice d'Agaune en Valais.

Grâce à sa foi et à son zèle, au temps du roi Gondebaud, la Gaule fut protégée des ravages de l’hérésie arienne.


Martyrologe romain

Saint Avitus de Vienne
dessin de Vernier, gravure par Lemaitre, 1845

Saint AVIT
Ce Saint naquit en Auvergne, d'une famille sénatoriale de Rome. En 490, il succéda à Isychius son père, qu'on avait élevé sur le siège épiscopal de Vienne, après la mort de saint Mammert. Nous lisons dans la vie de saint Epiphane de Pavie, par Ennodius, qu'A vit était un trésor de science et de piété, et qu'il racheta un grand nombre de prisonniers que les Bourguignons avaient emmenés de la Ligurie. Son éminente vertu le fit respecter par Clovis, Roi de France, et par Gondebaud, Roi de Bourgogne, quoique le premier fût encore idolâtre, et que le second fût infecté de l'hérésie arienne. Notre Saint ayant eu une conférence à Lyon avec les évêques ariens, il les confondit et les réduisit au silence. Le Roi de Bourgogne, qui était présent, fut si frappé du triomphe de la foi catholique, qu'il l'aurait embrassée, s'il n'eût craint de choquer ses sujets. Sigismond, fils et successeur de Gondebaud, fut plus courageux que son père ; il se rendit aux sollicitations de saint Avit, qui le pressait d'abjurer l'arianisme. Lorsque ce prince eut trempé ses mains dans le sang de Sigeric son fils, que sa belle-mère avait accusé d'un crime supposé, notre Saint lui fit sentir toute l'indignité de sa conduite, et lui inspira de vrais sentiments de pénitence. Il rebâtit l'abbaye d'Agaune, autrement dite de saint Maurice, embrassa l'état monastique, et mourut en odeur de sainteté. Saint Avit présida, en 517, au célèbre concile d'Epaone, où l'on fit quarante canons de discipline, et mourut en 525. Il est nommé en ce jour dans le martyrologe romain. On l'honore le 20 Août dans l'église collégiale de Notre-Dame de Vienne, où il fut enterré.
SOURCE : Alban Butler : Vie des Pères, Martyrs et autres principaux Saints… – Traduction : Jean-François Godescard.
St. Avitus
(Alcimus Ecdicius).

A distinguished bishop of Vienne, in Gaul, from 490 to about 518, though his death is place by some as late as 525 or 526. He was born of a prominent Gallo-Roman family closely related to the Emperor Avitus and other illustrious persons, and in which episcopal honors were hereditary. In difficult times for the Catholic faith and Roman culture in Southern Gaul, Avitus exercised a favourable influence. He pursued with earnestness and success the extinction of the Arian heresy in the barbarian Kingdom of Burgundy (443-532), won the confidence of King Gundobad, and converted his son, King Sigismund (516-523). He was also a zealous opponent of Semipelagianism, and of the Acacian Schism at Constantinople. Like his contemporary, Ennodius of Pavia, he was strenuous in his assertion of the authority of the Apostolic See as the chief bulwark of religious unity and the incipient Christian civilization. "If the pope," he says, "is rejected, it follows that not one bishop, the whole episcopate threatens to fall" (Si papa urbis vocatur in dubium, episcopatus videbitur, non episcopus, vaccilare. — Ep. xxxiv; ed. Peiper). The literary fame of Avitus rests on a poem of 2,552 hexameters, in five books, dealing with the Scriptural narrative of Original Sin, Expulsion from Paradise, the Deluge, the Crossing of the Red Sea. The first three books offer a certain dramatic unity; in them are told the preliminaries of the great disaster, the catastrophe itself, and the consequences. The fourth and fifth books deal with the Deluge and the Crossing of the Red Sea as symbols of baptism. Avitus deals freely and familiarly with the Scriptural events, and exhibits well their beauty, sequence, and significance. He is one of the last masters of the art of rhetoric as taught in the schools of Gaul in the fourth and fifth centuries. Ebert says that none of the ancient Christian poets treated more successfully the poetic elements of the Bible. His poetic diction, though abounding in archaisms and rhythmic redundancy, is pure and select, and the laws of metre are well observed. It is said that Milton made use of his paraphrase [sic] of Scripture in the preparation of "Paradise Lost". He wrote also 666 hexameters "De virginitate" or "De consolatoriâ castitatis laude" for the comfort of his sister Fuscina, a nun. His prose works include "Contra Eutychianam Hæresim libri II", written in 512 or 513, and also about eighty-seven letters that are of considerable importance for the ecclesiastical and political history of the years 499-518. Among them is the famous letter to Clovis on the occasion of his baptism. There was once extant a collection of his homilies, but they have perished with the exception of two and some fragments and excerpts. In recent times Julien Havet has demonstrated (Questions mérovingiennes, Paris, 1885), that Avitus is not the author of the "Dialogi cum Gundobado Rege", a defence of the Catholic Faith against the Arians, purporting to represent the famous Colloquy of Lyons in 449, and first published by d'Achéry (1661) in his "Spicilegium" (V, 110-116). It is a forgery of the Oratorian, Jérome Viguier, who also forged the letter of Pope Symmachus (13 Oct., 501) to Avitus. The works of Avitus are found in Migne, P.L., LIX, 191-398. There are two recent editions: one by R. Peiper (in Mon. Germ. Hist.: Auct. Antiq., VI, Berlin, 1883), the other by U. Chevalier (Lyons, 1890).

Sources

Acta SS., 1 February; Avite, sa vie, ses œuvres (Paris, 1870); DENKINGER, St. Avite et la déstruction de l'Arianisme en Gaule (Geneva, 1890); GUIZOT, Hist. De la civilisation en France (1829), II, 198-216; GORINI, Défense de l'Église (Paris, 1866), II, 1-86; KURTH, Hist. poétique des mérovingiens (1893), 243 sqq.; YOUNG in Dict. Christ. Biogr., I, 233; BARDENHEWER, Patrologie (Freiburg, 1901), 538, 539.

February 5

St. Avitus, Archbishop of Vienne, Confessor


ST. ALCIMUS ECDITIUS AVITUS was of a senatorian Roman family, but born in Auvergne. His father Isychius was chosen archbishop of Vienne upon the death of St. Mammertus, and was succeeded in that dignity by our saint, in 490. Ennodius, in his life of St. Epiphanius of Pavia, says of him, that he was a treasure of learning and piety; and adds, that when the Burgundians had crossed the Alps, and carried home many captives out of Liguria, this holy prelate ransomed a great number. Clovis, king of France, whilst yet a pagan, and Gondebald, king of Burgundy, though an Arian, held him in great veneration. This latter, for fear of giving offence to his subjects, durst not embrace the Catholic faith, yet gave sufficient proofs that he was convinced of the truth by our saint, who, in a public conference, reduced the Arian bishops to silence in his presence, at Lyons. Gondebald died in 516. His son and successor, Sigismund was brought over by St. Avitus to the Catholic faith. In 517, our saint presided in the famous council of Epaone, (now called Yenne,) upon the Rhone, in which forty canons of discipline were framed. When king Sigismund had imbrued his hands in the blood of his son Sigeric, upon a false charge brought against him by a stepmother, St. Avitus inspired him with so great a horror of his crime, that he rebuilt the abbey of Agaunum, or St. Maurice, became a monk, and died a saint. Most of the works of St. Avitus are lost; we have yet his poem on the praises of virginity, to his sister Fuscina, a nun, and some others; several epistles; two homilies on the Rogation days; and a third on the same, lately published by Dom Martenne; 1 fragments of eight other homilies: his conference against the Arians is given us in the Spicilege. 2 St. Avitus died in 525, and is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on the 5th of February; and in the collegiate church of our Lady at Vienne, where he was buried, on the 20th of August. Ennodius, and other writers of that age, extol his learning, his extensive charity to the poor, and his other virtues. See St. Gregory of Tours, Hist. l. 2. His works, and his life in Henschenius; 3 and Gallia Christ. Nova, t. 2. p. 242.


Note 1. Martenne Thesaur. Anecdot. t. 5. p. 49. 

Note 2. Spicil. t. 5. 

Note 3. F. Sirmond published the works of St. Avitus, with judicious short notes, in 8vo. 1643. See them in Sirmond’s works, t. 2. and Bibl. Patr. His close manner of confuting the Arians in some of his letters, makes us regret the loss of many other works, which he wrote against them. 

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume II: February.
The Lives of the Saints.  
1866.