vendredi 6 mars 2015

Saint CHRODEGANG de METZ, évêque et confesseur


Saint Chrodegang de Metz, 
vitrail de la chapelle Sainte-Glossinde de Metz.

Saint Chrodegang, évêque

Né vers 712 en Belgique, dans le pays de Hesbaye, Chrodegang fut élevé au monastère bénédictin de Saint-Trond où il apprît à connaître la règle de saint Benoît. Il suivit d’abord la carrière civile et fut chancelier de Charles Martel. Il conserva cette charge sous Pépin-le-Bref, même après sa nomination au siège épiscopal de Metz, le 1er octobre 742.

A la mort de saint Boniface, à partir de 754, il remplaça celui-ci comme légat du pape en Germanie et continua son œuvre d’évangélisation. Attentif à la vie de ses prêtres, il ranima chez eux l’esprit de ferveur et organisa les chanoines de sa cathédrale sous le mode canonial. Il montra le même zèle pour l’observance religieuse dans les monastères de son vaste diocèse et fonda, vers 749, la célèbre abbaye de Gorze, qui deviendra ensuite un chef d’Ordre. En 752, il fut choisi par Pépin pour une ambassade délicate auprès du Pape Etienne II, menacé par les Lombards. Les chantres qu’il ramena de Rome furent à l’origine de l’école grégorienne de Metz dont il est considéré comme le fondateur. De Rome également, il ramena les usages liturgiques. Il eut part à presque toutes les affaires importantes de son temps. Il mourut le 6 mars 766. Son corps fut inhumé dans l’abbaye de Gorze.


La vie de Saint Chrodegang


Camille Paul Cartucci, Metz


La communauté de paroisses Sainte Thérèse-Saint Symphorien a choisi comme patron commun st CHRODEGANG. Sa vie a été écrite par Paul Diacre. Elle est étroitement liée à l'histoire de l'Austrasie, de la fin des Mérovingiens à l'avènement des Carolingiens. Qui était celui qui fut, comme pasteur, l'un des plus grands évêques de METZ ?

Saint CHRODEGANG naît en 712 près de Liège. Ses parents sont des proches de Charles Martel, maire du palais. En 722, Chrodegang a 10 ans. Il est placé pour ses études à l'abbaye belge de st Trond. En 732, à 20 ans, il est nommé à Metz, à la cour de Charles Martel, qui vient de repousser les Arabes à Poitiers. En 737, à 25 ans, il devient chancelier de Charles Martel. En 742, Chrodegang a 30 ans. Il ajoute à ses fonctions, après la mort de Charles Martel, celle d'évêque de Metz. Il est ordonné le 1er octobre. A 36 ans, en 748, il fonde, dans la solitude de vastes forêts, l'abbaye de Gorze, soumise à la règle de st Benoît, avec des moines venus de Rhénanie. Ils seront vite assez nombreux pour essaimer en Bavière et en Alsace. En 752, Chrodegang a 40 ans. Pépin le Bref vient d'être sacré roi de France. Il choisit Chrodegang pour une ambassade délicate à Rome auprès du pape Etienne II, menacé par les Lombards. Chrodegang ramène le pape à st Denis, avec des chantres qui furent à l'origine de l'école grégorienne de Metz, et l’accompagne durant son séjour en Francie (de 753 à 755). Chrodegang est considéré comme le fondateur de cette Schola Cantorum.. Le chant dit grégorien et les usages liturgiques de Rome se répandirent dans tout le pays, malgré les hésitations du clergé franc à délaisser les coutumes gallicanes.

Chrodegang assista à plusieurs conciles provinciaux: en 753 par exemple, à celui de Verberie. En 754, il prit part au concile de Quierzy-sur-Oise. De ce concile, il faut retenir une affirmation majeure pour la théologie du salut : "Deus omnipotens omnes homines SINE EXCEPTIONE salvos fieri vult". En 755, Chrodegang participe au concile de Verneuil et, en 757, à celui de Compiègne. Les conciles réformateurs dénonçaient la décadence du clergé. En 754, à 42 ans, Chrodegang publie une règle de vie des chanoines, inspirée de st Augustin, et fait du chapitre de la cathédrale une communauté régulière. Le terme de "chanoine" ou "homme-canon" apparaît déjà en 536. Les prêtres de la ville épiscopale étaient tenus à la vie commune et à l'office de chœur, tout en menant une activité pastorale, notamment la prédication. Le regroupement du clergé amena Chrodegang à construire des bâtiments communautaires, à embellir la cathédrale et à restaurer plusieurs des 34 églises que comptait alors la ville. Le pape en fait son légat pour les diocèses d'Austrasie. En 764, Chrodegang reçoit du pape les reliques des saints martyrs romains, pour Gorze, St Avold et Lorsch, près de Worms, en Bavière. A 54 ans, le 6 mars 766, Chrodegang meurt à Metz, après "23 ans, 5 mois et 5 jours d'épiscopat". Son corps est inhumé à l'abbaye de Gorze, à laquelle il avait légué de grands biens.

Son nom offre bien des variantes: Chrodegangus, Chrotgandus, Godegrand, Rotgandus, etc. La rue messine qui lui est dédiée l'écrit Chrodegand. C'était aussi l'orthographe dans la liturgie du diocèse, jusqu'à la récente réforme, où il est redevenu Chrodegang.

La fête liturgique de st Chrodegang fut longtemps célébrée à l'anniversaire de sa mort, le 6 mars. Restant toujours éclipsée par le carême, elle a été transférée au 3 octobre, anniversaire de son ordination épiscopale.

Les reliques du saint furent transférées de Gorze à l'abbaye messine de st SYMPHORIEN, pour des raisons de sécurité. Elles y furent conservées jusqu'à la Révolution, où elles furent dispersées. Il en reste aujourd'hui une part à la cathédrale.

La seule église diocésaine qui lui soit dédiée est celle d'Althorn, dans le pays de Bitche, auquel on revient toujours.

En 1965, le diocèse de Metz célébra le 12èmecentenaire de la mort de st Chrodegang, archevêque, 36èmesuccesseur de saint Clément sur le siège épiscopal de Metz. On rappela alors le triple renouveau dont l'évêque fut à l'origine: liturgique, pastoral et monastique. Chrodegang, en fidèle disciple de st Benoît, voulait une liturgie diocésaine de qualité; il recommandait à ses clercs, outre la vertu d'humilité, la fidélité quotidienne à la "lectio divina", la lecture perm

Parole de Dieu et une charité vraiment apostolique.


St. Chrodegang

(Called also CHRODEGAND, GODEGRAND, GUNDIGRAN, RATGANG, RODIGANG and SIRIGANG).

Bishop of Metz, born at the beginning of the eighth century at Hasbania, in what is now Belgian Limburg, of a noble Frankish family; died at Metz, 6 March, 766. He was educated at the court of Charles Martel, became his private secretary, then chancellor, and in 737 prime minister. On 1 March, 742, he was appointed Bishop of Metz, retaining his civil office at the request of Pepin. In his influential position St. Chrodegang laboured earnestly for the welfare of Church and State, and was ever solicitous to strengthen the bonds of union between the temporal and spiritual rulers. In his diocese he introduced the Roman Liturgy and chant, community life for the clergy of his cathedral, and wrote a special rule for them. He founded (748) the Abbey of Gorze (near Metz), and remained its friend and protector. He also established St. Peter's Abbey, on the Moselle, and did much for Gengenbach and Lorsch. For the latter he is said to have obtained the relics of St. Nazarius, and for Gorze those of St. Gorgonius. In 753 he was sent by Pepin to Pope Stephen III to assure him of the sympathy of the Frankish rulers against the inroads of Aistulf, King of the Lombards. He accompanied the pope to Ponthieu. After the death of St. Boniface, Pope Stephen conferred the pallium on St. Chrodegang (754-755), thus making him an archbishop, but not elevating the See of Metz. St. Chrodegang was buried in the Abbey of Gorze. He was a man of imposing appearance, of a mild, though firm, character, of great liberality to the poor, and of more than ordinary ability, well versed in Latin and German. The rule containing thirty-four chapters which he gave his clergy (c. 755) was modeled according to the rules of St. Benedict and of the Canons of the Lateran (Mansi, XIV, 313; Hardouin, IV 1181; Migne, P.L., LXXXIX, 1097). Through it he gave a might impulse to the spread of community life among the secular clergy. It was later increased to eighty-six chapters (D'Archey, Spicilegium, I, 656). In 762, during a dangerous illness, he introduced among his priests a confraternity of prayer known as the League of Attigny.

Mershman, Francis. "St. Chrodegang." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 6 Mar. 2016 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03729b.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Christine J. Murray.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

March 6

St. Chrodegang, Bishop of Metz, Confessor


From Paul the Deacon, l. 2. de Gest. Longob. c. 16. Henschenius, p. 453. Mabill. Annal. Ben. l. 22. t. 2. & Act SS. Ord. Ben. t. 4. p. 184. Ceillier, t. 18. p. 176. His life, published by George Von. Eckart, Hist. Franciæ Orient. t. 1. p. 912. Also Meurisse, Hist. des Evêques de Metz, l. 2.

A.D. 766

THIS saint, nobly born in Brabant, then called Hasbain, was educated in the abbey of St. Tron, and for his great learning and virtue was made referendary, chancellor of France, and prime minister, by Charles Martel, mayor of the French palace, in 737. He was always meanly clad from his youth; he macerated his body by fasting, watching, and hair-cloths, and allowed his senses no superfluous gratifications of any kind. His charity to all in distress seemed to know no bounds; he supported an incredible number of poor, and was the protector and father of orphans and widows. Soon after the death of Charles Martel, he was chosen bishop of Metz, in 742. Prince Pepin, the son and successor of Charles, uncle to our saint by his mother, Landrada, would not consent to his being ordained, but on the condition that he should still continue at the helm of the state. Chrodegang always retained the same sweetness, humility, recollection, and simplicity in his behaviour and dress. He constantly wore a rough hair-shirt under his clothes, spent great part of the night in watching, and usually at his devotions watered his cheeks with tears. Pope Stephen III. being oppressed by the Lombards, took refuge in France. Chrodegang went to conduct him over the Alps, and King Pepin was no sooner informed that he had passed these mountains in his way to France, but he sent Charles his eldest son, to accompany him to Pont-yon, in Champagne, where the king was to receive him. The pope being three miles distant from that city, the king came to meet him, and having joined him alighted from his horse, and prostrated himself, as did the queen, his children, and the lords of his court; and the king walked some time by the side of his horse to do him honour. The pope retired to the monastery of St. Denys; and King Pepin, in the year 754, sent St. Chrodegang on an embassy to Astulph, king of the Lombards, praying him out of respect to the holy apostles not to commit any hostilities against Rome, nor to oblige the Romans to superstitions contrary to their laws, and to restore the towns which he had taken from the holy see; but this embassy was without effect. The saint, in 755, converted the chapter of secular canons of his cathedral into a regular community, in which he was imitated by many other churches. He composed for his regular canons a rule, consisting of thirty-four articles. In the first he lays down humility for the foundation of all the rest. 1 He obliged the canons to confess at least twice a year to the bishop, before the beginning of Advent and Lent. 2 But these churches, even that of Metz, have again secularized themselves. The saint built and endowed the monasteries of St. Peter, that of Gorze, and a third in the diocess of Worms, called Lorsh or Laurisham. He died on the 6th of March, in 766, and was buried at Gorze, to which by his will, which is still extant, he demised several estates. He is named in the French, German, and Belgic Martyrologies.

The zeal of St. Chrodegang in restoring the primitive and apostolic spirit in the clergy, particularly their fervour and devotion in the ministry of the altar, is the best proof of his ardour to advance the divine honour. To pay to Almighty God the public homage of praise and love, in the name of the whole church, is a function truly angelical. Those, who by the divine appointment are honoured with this sublime charge resemble those glorious heavenly spirits who always assist before the throne of God. What ought to be the sanctity of their lives! how pure their affections, how perfectly disengaged from all inordinate attachments to creatures, particularly how free from the least filth of avarice, and every other vice! All Christians have a part in this heavenly function.

Note 1. Ch. 14. 

Note 2. See the other regulations abridged in Fleury, &c. the entire rule published genuine in Le Cointe’s Annals, t. 5. and in the later editions of the councils. 

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



Chrodegang of Metz B (AC)

Born at Hesbaye, Brabant, near Liege, in c. 712-15; died at Metz, March 6, 776. A near relative of Pepin the Short, Chrodegang was probably educated at Saint Trond Abbey and became Charles Martel's secretary and chancellor of France. Even then he went about in hair shirts and unostentatious clothing, fasting and praying, and many of the poor depended entirely upon his charity.


In 742, shortly after the death of Charles Martel, he became bishop of Metz though he was still a layman. So treasured was his advice by Martel's son Pepin the Short that Pepin refused to allow the saint to be consecrated until Chrodegang had promised to continue as his chief minister.

Thus, Chrodegang served as ambassador to Pope Stephen III for Pepin, mayor of the palace, and was very much involved in the coronation of Pepin as King of the Franks, the first Carolingian king, in 751, and in Pepin's defense of the papacy and Rome against the Lombards and his restoration of the exarchate of Ravenna, which he had won from the Lombards, to the Holy See.

Chrodegang's support for the papacy was of inestimable value at a time when the Lombards had managed to force the pope into exile. Chrodegang himself safely brought the pope over the Alps, and Pepin the Short welcomed him to France.

This bishop is of importance because of his continuation of the work of Saint Boniface of Crediton in reforming the Frankish Church. Chrodegang put into effect many ecclesiastical reforms in his see. In particular, he sought to raise the standard of the clergy by suitable education and by encouraging them, when possible, to live a common life together. For such communities he drew up a rule, based in part on that of Saint Benedict. This movement spread and was widely influential as the canons regular movement.

He was active in founding and restoring churches and monasteries, including the abbey of Gorze, Italy, in 748; introduced the Roman liturgy and Gregorian Chant in his see; and established a choir school at Metz, which became famous all over Europe. He also participated in several councils.


Pope Stephen II having conferred on him archepiscopal rank, and having full support of King Pepin the Short, he was able to get his reforms taken up in neighboring dioceses. Saint Chrodegang, we are told, was a man of handsome appearance and generous disposition, a ready writer in Latin and in his own tongue, a man whose character and abilities eminently fitted him to carry on the work Saint Boniface had begun (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney).