vendredi 3 avril 2015

Sainte FARE (BURGONDOFARE), vierge, abbesse et fondatrice

Statue de Sainte-Fare de la Collégiale Saint-Martin de Champeaux.

Sainte Fare

Fare ou Burgondofare dut résister des années à la volonté de son père, le comte Agnéric, de la marier. Elle obtint de haute lutte que son père lui bâtisse le monastère où elle souhaitait se consacrer tout entière au Seigneur. Ce fut la fondation de l'abbaye de Faremoutiers en 627 au diocèse de Meaux dont elle fut la première abbesse. Elle y mourut vers l'an 660. Cette abbaye subsiste encore.

Sainte Fare

abbesse (7ème s.)

ou Burgondofare. 

Abbesse de Faremoutiers*, près de Meaux dans la Brie française, elle était burgonde d'origine. Elle connut d'abord bien des oppositions paternelles à ses projets de devenir moniale jusqu'au jour où Gondoald, évêque de Meaux et saint Eustase, disciple de saint Colomban, décidèrent le père à donner à sa fille la liberté de choisir la vocation de sa vie. 

Sainte Fare se retira d'abord à Champeaux puis dans une nouvelle maison qui prendra son nom: Faremoutiers-77120.

*L’abbaye bénédictine Notre-Dame et Saint-Pierre de Faremoutiers a été fondée vers 625 sur la colline d’Eboriac, à deux lieues environ de Coulommiers, par Sainte Fare, sœur de Saint Faron, évêque de Meaux. Complètement ruinée à la révolution, elle a été rétablie en 1931. Elle compte actuellement 8 moniales. (diocèse de Meaux)

Au pays de Meaux, en 657, sainte Fare, abbesse. Après avoir, pendant quarante ans, dirigé le monastère d’Evoriacum, qui fut ensuite appelé de son nom Faremoutier, elle fut associée dans la troupe des vierges qui suivent l’Agneau de Dieu.

Martyrologe romain


fondatrice de Faremoutiers

Elle est la fille du comte Agnéric et de Léodegonde ; sœur des saints Cagnoald et Faron. Elle fut bénie dans son enfance par saint Colomban qui reconnut la marque d’une vocation à ce qu’elle portait entre ses doigts un épi de blé mûr, bien que ce ne fut pas la saison.

Plus tard son père voulut la marier à un jeune homme de son rang mais elle s’enfuit et se cacha dans une chapelle près de Meaux, suppliant le Seigneur de conserver sa virginité. Elle fut retrouvée, ramenée au château et enfermée pendant six mois. Saint Eustaise, disciple de saint Colomban réprimanda fortement Agnéric de ses agissements le menaçant des châtiments de la justice de Dieu. Agnéric, effrayé reconnut sa faute, rompit la promesse de mariage, consentit que sa fille reçut le voile (614), et résolut de bâtir un monastère (Bridge). Elle y fut nommée abbesse et établit la règle de saint Colomban.

Des vierges de France et de l’étranger vinrent se ranger sous sa conduite, attirées par ses vertus. Faron, le frère de Fare fut si touché des exemples et des discours de sa sœur qu’il se consacra à la vie religieuse ; il devint évêque de Meaux. Agée de plus de quatre-vingt ans, elle se prépara à l’heure de sa mort avec ferveur en exhortant ses filles : « Aimez Dieu en toute chose et gardez fidèlement sa loi... Ne méprisez personne que vous-même…»

Sainte Fare rendit son âme à Dieu le 7 décembre 655. Ses reliques sont conservées dans l’église de Faremoutiers et dans celle de Champeaux dans le diocèse de Meaux. Elle est invoquée pour les maux d’yeux.

Burgundofara, OSB Abbess V (RM)

(also known as Fare, Fara)

Born near Meaux; died at Faremoutiers in Brie, France, on April 3, c. 655-657. Sister of Saint Cagnoald, Saint Faro, and Agnetrudis, Fare had been blessed by Saint Columbanus in her infancy during his stay with the family on his way into exile from Luxeuil. Some chroniclers say say was 10 or 15 at the time Columbanus consecrated her to God in a particular manner.

She developed a religious vocation early in spite of the fierce opposition of her father, Count Agneric, one of the principal courtiers of King Theodebert II. He arranged an honorable match for his daughter, which so upset her that she became mortally ill. Still Agneric demanded that she marry.

When Saint Eustace was returning to the court with her brother Cagnoald from his embassy to Columbanus, he stayed in the home of Agneric. Fare disclosed to him her vocation. Eustace told her father that Fare was deathly ill because he opposed her pious inclinations. The saintly man prostrated himself for a time in prayer, rose, and made the sign of the cross upon Fare's eyes. Immediately her health was restored.

Eustace asked her mother, Leodegonda, to prepare Fare to receive the veil when he returned to court. As soon as the saint left, Agneric again began to harass his daughter. She sought sanctuary in the church when he threatened to kill her if she did not comply with this wishes. Eustace returned and reconciled father and daughter. He then arranged for Fare to be professed before Bishop Gondoald of Meaux in 614.

A year or two later, Fare convinced her father to build her a double monastery, originally named Brige (Brie, which is Celtic for "bridge") or Evoriacum, now called Faremoutiers (Fare's monastery). The chronicler Jonas, a monk in that abbey, wrote about many of the holy people he knew there, including Saint Cagnoald and Saint Walbert.

Although Fare was still very young, she was appointed its first abbess and governed the monastery under the Rule of Saint Columbanus for 37 years. The rule was severe. The use of wine and milk was forbidden (at least during penitential seasons). The inhabitants confessed three times each day to encourage a habitual watchfulness for the attainment of purity of heart. Masses were said daily in the monastery for 30 days for the soul of those religious who died.

Fare was apparently an excellent directress of souls. Many English princess-nuns and nun-saints were trained under her, including Saints Gibitrudis, Sethrida, Ethelburga, Ercongotha, Hildelid, Sisetrudis, Hercantrudis, and others. Once when her younger brother, Saint Faro, was visiting, he was so moved by her heavenly discourses that he resigned the great offices which he held at court, persuaded his fiancé to become a nun, and took the clerical tonsure. After he succeeded Gondoald as bishop, Faro supported his sister against attempts to mitigate the severity of the Rule.

A reference is made to Fare by Bede led long afterwards to the mistaken idea that she died in England; however, she died at Faremoutiers after a painful, lingering illness. Her will bequeathed some of her lands to her siblings, but the rest to the monastery, includng her lands at Champeaux on which a monastery was later erected.

Fare's relics were enshrined in 695 and many miracles were attributed to her intercession. Among them is the restoration of sight to Dame Charlotte le Bret, daughter to the first president and treasurer-general of finance in the district of Paris. At the age of seven (1602), her left eye was put out. She became a nun at Faremoutiers in 1609 and lost the sight in her remaining eye in 1617 due to an irreversible eye disease. Because she suffered terrible pain in her eyes and the adjacent nerves, remedies were applied to destroy all feeling in the area. In 1622, she kissed one of the exposed bones of Saint Fare and touched it to both eyes. She had feeling again. Upon repeating the action, her sight was restored--instantly and perfectly. Physicians and witnesses testified in writing to her state before and after this miracle, which was certified as such be Bishop John de Vieupont of Meaux on December 9, 1622.

The affidavit of the abbess, Frances de la Chastre, and the community also mentioned two other miraculous cures of palsy and rheumatism. Other miracles wrought at the intercession of Saint Fare are recorded by Carcat and du Plessis (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).

Saint Burgundofara is depicted in art as an abbess with an ear of corn. Sometimes she may be shown in the scene where Saint Columbanus blesses a child (Roeder). She is honored especially in France and Sicily (Husenbeth).


St. Fara, Virgin and Abbess

AGNERIC, one of the principal officers of the court of Theodebert II. king of Austrasia, had by his wife Leodegonda, four children: St. Cagnoald, who took the monastic habit under St. Columban at Luxeu, about the year 594; St. Faro, who became bishop of Meaux; St. Fara, 1 and Agnetrudis. In 610, St. Columban being banished from Luxeu, in his flight lodged at the house of Agneric, called Pipimisium, two leagues from Meaux, the present Aupigny, according to Mabillon, or Champigny, according to Du Plessis. St. Cagnoald, who accompanied this abbot in his exile into Switzerland, probably introduced him to his father, and St. Columban gave his blessing to all the family; and when he came to Fara, consecrated her to God in a particular manner. Jonas says she was then in her infancy; Baillet supposes her then fifteen; Du Plessis only ten. When she had attained the age of puberty, her father proposed to her an honourable match. The holy virgin did every thing that lay in her power to prevent it and fell into a lingering sickness, which brought her life in danger. St. Eustasius, St. Columban’s successor, when that holy man went to Bobio in Italy, made a journey thither, by order of Clotaire II. in order to persuade him to return, taking with St. Cagnoald, who had returned to Luxeu when St. Columban left Switzerland. St. Eustasius, after he came back, repaired to the court of Clotaire II. to give him an account of his embassy, and in his way lodged at Agneric’s. Fara discovered to him her earnest desire of consecrating her virginity to her heavenly spouse. The holy man told her father, that God had visited her with a dangerous illness which threatened certain death, only because he opposed her pious inclinations, and after praying some time prostrate on the ground, he arose, and made the sign of the cross upon her eyes; whereupon she was forthwith restored to her health. The saint recommended her to her mother, that she might be prepared to receive the veil at the time he should come back from court. No sooner was he gone out of doors, but Agneric began again to persecute his daughter, in order to extort her consent to marry the young nobleman to whom he had promised her. Fara fled to the church, and when she was told that, unless she complied with her father’s desire, she would be murdered; she resolutely answered: “Do you think I am afraid of death? To lose my life for the sake of virtue, and fidelity to the promise I have made to God, would be a great happiness.” St. Eustasius speedily returned, and easily reconciled her father to her, and engaged Gondoald, bishop of Meux, to give her the religious veil. This happened in the year 614. The foundation of the famous monastery of Faremoutier, is dated a year or two after this, Agneric having given his pious daughter a competent portion of land, and raised a building proper for this purpose. The abbey was originally called Brige, from the Celtic word which signifies a bridge: Du Plessis supposes that there was then, as there is at present, a bridge over the river at the confluence of the Aubetin and the Great Morin. Hence the neighbouring forest now called the Forest of Faremoutier, took that name. 2 The Latin name Eboriacas or Evoriacas, which in the seventh age was given to this monastery, seems to have been derived from the Celtic; and from this monastery and forest a district of the country on the south of the Marne took the same name, and is now called Brie. 3 This monastery was founded double, and St. Eustasius sent thither from Luxeu St. Cagnoald, who, in 620, was made bishop of Laon, and St. Walbert, who being born of an illustrious family in Ponthieu, and having served some time in the army, had retired to Luxeu. He afterwards succeeded St. Eustasius in that abbacy in 625. Jonas was also a monk at Faremoutier, soon after the foundation of that house, and an eye-witness to the eminent virtues of the holy persons who inhabited it, and of which he has left us an edifying account.

St. Fara, though very young, was appointed abbess of the nunnery, and, assisted with the councils of St. Cagnoald and St. Walbert, settled there the rule of St. Columban, in its greatest severity. We find that the use of wine was there forbidden, and also that of milk, at least in Lent and Advent, and the religious made three confessions a-day, as is mentioned in the life of St. Fara; that is, thrice every day they made a strict examination of their consciences, and made a confession or manifestation of what passed in their souls to their superior. This practice of rigorous self-examination and confession or manifestation is most strenuously recommended and ordered in all the ancient rules of a monastic life, 4 as a most important and useful means of attaining purity of heart, a perfect government of the affections, an habitual Christian watchfulness, and true perfection. Under the direction of guides perfectly disengaged from all earthly things, and enlightened in the paths of virtue, many heroic souls at the same time filled this monastery and all France with the odour of their sanctity. Among these, several are honoured in the calendars of the saints, as St. Sisetrudis, St. Gibitrudis, St. Hercantrudis, 5 and others. From the life of St. Gibitrudis, it appears, that in this monastery it was customary to say a trental of masses for every one that died in the house, during thirty days after their decease. St. Fara was the directress of so many saints, and walked at their head in the perfect observance of all the rules which she prescribed to others. Her younger brother St. Faro was so moved by her heavenly discourses one day when he came to pay her a visit, that he resigned the great offices which he held at court, persuaded a young lady to whom he had promised marriage to become a nun, and took the clerical tonsure. In 626, he succeeded Gondoald in the episcopal chair of Meaux, died in 672, and was buried in the monastery of the Holy Cross, which he founded, and which bears his name. His protection and holy counsels were a support and comfort to St. Fara, under the assaults which she had to sustain. Agrestes, a turbulent monk, pretending to correct the rule of St. Columban in several points, drew over St. Romaric, founder of the abbey of Remiremont, and St. Amatus, first abbot of that house: though they afterwards discovered the snare, and repented of their fault. St. Fara was upon her guard, and constantly opposed all attempts to undermine the severity of the holy rule which she had professed. Ega, mayor of the palace of Clovis II. raised a troublesome persecution against her, which she bore with patience and constancy to his death, in 641. On the other side, the reputation of her virtue reached the remotest parts. Several English princesses crossed the seas, to sacrifice at the foot of the altars the pomp and riches which waited for them on thrones. The glittering splendour of the purple and courts appeared in their eyes an empty seducing phantom: they trampled it under their feet, and preferred the humility of a cloister to worldly greatness.

Sedrido, the first of these princesses, was daughter of Hereswith, whose father Hereric, was brother to St. Edwin, the glorious king of the Northumbers. St. Hereswith had her by a first husband, whose name has not reached us. Her second husband was Annas, king of the East-Angles, with whose consent she renounced the world, and died a nun at Chelles. Her daughter Sedrido passed into France in 644 or 646, about two years after Annas, her father-in-law, had ascended the throne, and embracing the humble state of a crucified life at Faremoutier, served God with joy, in sackcloth and ashes, in the heroic practice of all Christian virtues. Though a stranger, she was chosen to succeed St. Fara, and governed this flourishing colony of saints from 655 till her happy death. Her mother Hereswith, her sister Edelburge, (daughter of Hereswith and King Annas,) and her niece Erkengota, daughter of her sister Sexburga, and of Ercombert king of Kent, passed at the same time into France, hoping in this exile more perfectly to forget and be forgotten by the world, which they renounced. St. Edelburge, called by the French St. Aubierge, is called by Bede 6 the natural daughter of Annas; whence many have inferred that she was illegitimate. But the word natural child seems never to have been anciently taken in that sense, but in opposition to an adoptive child. 7 It is at least visible that Bede here uses it to   distinguish her birth from that of Sedrido, who was only step-daughter to Annas. 8 St. Edelburge was chosen third abbess of Faremoutier, upon the death of Sedrido, and is honoured among the saints in the diocess of Meaux, on the 7th of July. An ancient chapel in her honour, which stands not far from the abbey, was rebuilt in 1714. A spring which is   near it is esteemed a holy well: and many drink at it out of devotion. It was beautiful and adorned at the expense of certain English gentlemen, who resided in that country in 1718. St. Erkengota, called by the French Artongate, died a private nun at Faremoutier, and is honoured with an office in the diocess of Meux on the 23d of February. 9 Some Benedictin writers add to these St. Hildelide, a nun of Faremoutier, who was also an English princess; and was the assistant of St. Edelburge in the foundation of the great nunnery of Barking. The primitive spirit of the religious state which was established by these glorious saints, was long maintained in this monastery of Faremoutier. 10 St. Fara, after having been purified by a painful lingering illness, and made worthy of the crown of eternal glory, was called to receive it on the 3d of April, about the year 655. 11 By her last will she gave part of her estates to her brothers and sister, but the principal part to her monastery; and in these latter, mentions her lands at Champeaux. 12 It therefore seems a mistake in some critics that she founded there another monastery. A conventual priory seems to have been afterwards erected there by the monastery of Faremoutier. It has been since converted into a collegiate church of canons, and is situate in the diocess of Paris. The relics of St. Fara were enshrined in 695, and a great number of miracles has been wrought through her intercession.

Dame Charlotte le Bret, daughter to the first president and treasurer-general of the finances in the generality or district of Paris, who was born in 1595, lost her left eye at seven years of age, was received a nun at Faremoutier in 1609, and in 1617 lost her right eye, and became quite blind. She went twice out of her monastery to consult the most famous oculists at Paris, who unanimously agreed that an essential part of the organ of her eyes was destroyed, and her sight irrecoverably lost; and, to remove the pain which she frequently felt, they by remedies extinguished all feeling in the eye-balls and adjacent nerves, insomuch that she could not feel the application of vinegar, salt, or the strongest aromatic; and if ever she wept, she only perceived it by feeling the tears trickle down her cheeks. Four years after this, in 1622, the relics of St. Fara being taken out of the shrine, she kissed one of the bones, and then applied it to both her eyes. She immediately felt a pain in them, though they had been four years and a half without sensation, and the lids had been immovably closed; and she had scarcely removed the relics from her eyes, than a humour distilled from them. She cried out, begging that the relics might be applied a second and a third time; which being done, at the third touch she cried out, that she saw. In that instant her sight was perfectly restored to her, and she distinguished all the objects about her. Then, prostrate on the ground, she gave thanks to the author of her recovery, and the whole assembly joined their voices in glorifying God. 13 The certificates and affidavits of the surgeons and physicians who had treated her, and the affidavits of the eye-witnesses of the fact were juridically taken by the bishop of Meaux, (John de Vieupont,) who, by a judicial sentence, given on the 9th of December, 1622, declared, that the cure of the said blindness was the miraculous work of God. The abbess, Frances de la Chastre, and the community of nuns, signed and published a certificate to the like purport; in which they also mention the miraculous cures of two other nuns, the one of a palsy, the other of rheumatism. 14 Other miracles performed through her intercession are recorded by Carcat 15 and Du Plessis, who appeal to memoirs of the abbey, drawn up in an authentic manner, &c. The name of St. Fara is exceedingly honoured in France, Sicily, Italy, &c. See the life of St. Burgundofara ascribed to Bede, but really the work of Jonas, of whom some account is given at note under the life of St. Columban, on the 21st of November; he wrote at Faremoutier the lives of St. Columban and his successors, St. Attalus and Bertulfus at Bobio, St. Eustatius at Luxeu, and St. Fara. See also Du Plessis, Hist. de l’Eglise de Meaux, t. 1, l. 1, n. 21, &c. t. 2, p. 1

Note 1. St. Faro, in ancient writings, is called Burgondofaro, and St. Fara, Burgundofara. Baillet (28 Oct. in S. Faro) pretends that they were so called because Burgundiæ farones, or lords of the kingdom of Burgundy; for this critic pretends, that Brie was part of the province of the Senones, which belonged to the dominions of Gontran, king of Orleans and Burgundy, though it had formerly been part of the kingdom of Austrasia. See F. Daniel, Hist. t. 1, p. 146. But Du Plessis shows that Meaux belonged not to Gontran, but to Theodebert II. king of Austrasia; and that, Fara signifying lineage, these names implied that the persons were of Burgundian extraction, which Jonas, in the Life of St. Fara, testifies to have been the interpretation of this name. See Mabillon, Act. Ben. p. 617. Ruinart, Not. in Chron. Fredegarii, p. 621. Du Plessis, Hist. de Meaux. Not. 11, p. 632, t. 1. 

Note 2. Saltus Briegius, Bede, &c. 

Note 3. See Du Plessis, n. 17, p. 639. 

Note 4. Reg. S. Bened. c. 7, Pœnitent. S. Columbani, p. 98. 

Note 5. See Mabill. Act. Bened. pp. 439, 441, 442. 

Note 6. Bede, l. 3, c. 8. 

Note 7. Sueton. in Tib. c. 52. See Rob. Stephen. Thes. ling. Latin. V. Naturalis. 

Note 8. Du Plessis, note 34, p. 699, t. 1. 

Note 9. Bede, l. 3, c. 8. Brev. Meldens. Menolog. Bened. 

Note 10. At what time the abbey of Faremoutier exchanged the rule of St. Columban for that of St. Bennet, has been the subject of warm debates between le Cointe and the Benedictins. The latest epoch that can be fixed is about the time of Charlemagne. Within half a league from Faremoutier is situated the abbey of La Celle, which name was formerly given to hermitages and small monasteries. This was raised upon the cell of St. Blandin, a hermit, born of poor parents, who died there on the 1st of May, about the tenth century. A council of Meaux, about the year 1082, ordered all small communities which did not maintain above ten monks, to be subjected either to Marmoutier or Cluni. Thus La Celle became subject to the former. In 1633, the monks of Marmoutier yielded it to F. Francis Walgrave and the English Benedictin monks, upon condition that the claustral prior, after his election, be instituted to his office by, and his community be subject to, the visitation of the grand prior and monks of Marmoutier. (See the deed of this convention in Du Plessis, t. 2, n. 40, p. 343, and his account of this transaction, t. 1. p. 117, l. 2, n. 38.) The English Benedictins were aliens in France till naturalized by Lewis XIV. in 1650, by letters patent, which were renewed in 1674, and again by Lewis XV. in 1723, (ib. p. 734, t. 2, p. 443.) 

Note 11. See Mabillon, Act. SS. Bened. t. 2, p. 449, et Annal. Bened. t. 1, p. 434. Du Plessis, note 19, p. 642. 

Note 12. See her last will and testament, published by Toussaints Du Plessis, Hist. de l’Eglise de Meaux. Pièces Justificatives, t. 2, p. 1.

Note 13. Du Plessis, t. 1, l. 5, n. 12, pp. 433, 434. 

Note 14. Ib. Pièces Justif. t. 2, pp. 320, 322. 

Note 15. August. Carcat, Vie de S. Fare, p. 238, &c

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

St. Burgundofara (or Fara) of France

Commemorated on April 3 (and December 7)

Blessed by St. Columbanus as a child, Burgundofara became a nun despite her father’s opposition. She was responsible for founding the convent of Brige in France.

The monastery was later renamed Faremoutiers (Fara’s Monastery) where she was abbess for thirty-seven years. She fell asleep in Christ in 657.

By permission of