Évêque de Nantes (✝ 582)
Évêque de Nantes dont saint Venance Fortunat vante les mérites dans ses poèmes.
À Nantes, en 582, saint Félix, évêque, qui manifesta son zèle en réalisant d’importants travaux pour le bien de son peuple, en construisant l’église cathédrale et en veillant avec constance à l’évangélisation des populations rurales.
Saint Félix est une des grandes figures de l'épiscopat mérovingien. Il nous est connu par les vers de son ami Fortunat, qui lui décerne des éloges dithyrambiques, et par saint Grégoire de Tours, qui n'eut apparemment pas de bons rapports avec lui.
D'après Fortunat, Félix était issu d'une illustre famille d'Aquitaine. Il dut recevoir une éducation soignée, car Fortunat, lui fait mérite de son éloquence. Cette qualité était doublement nécessaire aux évêques de cette époque, qui n'avaient pas seulement à haranguer leurs fidèles, mais devaient aussi, en bien des cas, prendre la place des gouverneurs civils défaillants.
Ce fut, semble-t-il, le cas de Félix, qu'on voit intervenir à plusieurs reprises auprès des Bretons, ses voisins, tantôt pour sauver Macliavus, frère de Chanao, comte de Vannes, et poursuivi par ce dernier; tantôt pour leur envoyer une délégation en vue d'arrêter leurs ravages aux abords de Nantes (579). Fortunat célèbre aussi plusieurs travaux d'utilité publique accomplis par saint Félix, mais son texte n'est pas clair et il est difficile de savoir s'il fit draguer et rectifier le cours de la Loire ou creuser un canal.
Félix ne fait pas seulement figure d'administrateur et de defensor civitatis; les intérêts spirituels de son diocèse ne sont pas oubliés. Tout d'abord il achève la cathédrale, commencée par son prédécesseur Eumérius. D'après les vers de Fortunat et aussi d'après les rares vestiges retrouvés, il semble que l'édifice était fort beau. Il en fit la dédicace devant un nombreux groupe d'évêques. On le voit assister vers cette même époque à plusieurs conciles, notamment à Tours (567) et à Paris (573). Saint Félix mourut le 6 janvier 582, tandis qu'il essayait d'obtenir pour successeur son neveu Burgondio.
SOURCE : http://www.histoire-russie.fr/icone/saints_fetes/textes/felix_nantes.html
Felix of Nantes B (AC)
Died January 8, 584. Felix was a 37-year-old married man when he was called to became the 16th bishop of Nantes, France, about 549. He was born into an illustrious family of Aquitaine, perhaps in Bourges or possibly in Brittany. He was renowned for his virtue, eloquence, and erudition. His zeal for discipline was revealed in the regulations he made for his own diocese, and the decrees of the third council of Paris in 557, the second of Tours in 566, and the fourth of Paris in 573. His charity to the poor was boundless; he sold his own patrimony to enlarge monies available for their relief. Because he believed that no one should be left in distress, he considered the revenues of the church as the patrimony of the poor and administered them wisely for their use. He counted the poet Venantius Fortunatus as a friend, who mentions that Felix wrote a poetic panegyric on Queen Saint Radegund and completed the cathedral begun by his predecessor. Fortunatus describes the cathedral as composed of three naves, of which the middle was supported by great pillars. A great cupola was raised in the middle. The church was covered with tin, and within was only azure, gold, mosaic paintings, pilasters, foliage, various figures, and other ornaments.
Count Canao on Vannes had killed three of his brothers and imprisoned a fourth named Maclian. After Felix was consecrated, he interceded to save the prisoner's life and regain his freedom. Even Saint Gregory of Tours testified to Felix's eminent sanctity, although he had earlier complained that Bishop Felix had unjustly accused him of nepotism toward Gregory's nephew Peter. Felix is also credited with being a peace- maker. Count Guerech II of Vannes had plundered Rennes and Vannes and repulsed the troops of King Chilperic; yet he withdrew and made peace at the request of Felix. After governing the see of Nantes for 33 years, he died. Today is the anniversary of the translation of his relics (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
St. Felix, Bishop of Nantes, Confessor
THE MOST illustrious among the bishops of Nantes was saint Felix, a person of the first rank in Aquitain, some say of Bourges in the First Aquitain; others more probably think of the Second Aquitain on the sea-coast and nearer Brittany. In the world he was more illustrious by his virtue, his eloquence, and learning, than by his dignities and high birth. The Greek language was as familiar to him as his own; he was a poet and orator, and seems from Fortunatus’s expression to have written a panegyric on the queen St. Radegundes in verse. He had been married when he was called to succeed Evemer, the holy bishop of Nantes, toward the close of the year 549, in the 37th year of his age. His zeal for discipline and good order appeared in the regulations he made for his own diocess, and in the decrees of the third council of Paris in 557, in the second of Tours in 566, and the fourth of Paris in 573. His charity to the poor had no other bounds but those of their necessities, and considering that the revenues of the Church were the patrimony of the poor, he reserved to himself only the prudent and troublesome administration of them for their use. He sold for them and the Church his own patrimony, and made it his study and earnest endeavour that no one in his diocess should pass unrelieved in distress. His predecessor had formed a project of building a cathedral within the walls of the city of Nantes, which Felix executed in the most magnificent manner. Fortunatus describes it to have been composed of three naves, of which the middle was supported by great pillars. A great cupola was raised in the middle. The church was covered with tin, and within was only azure, gold, mosaic paintings, pilasters, foliages, various figures and other ornaments. Euphronius, archbishop of Tours, and the bishops of Angers, Mans, Rennes, Poitiers, and Angouleme performed the dedication; no bishop of the Britons was invited to the ceremony; from which it appears that their commerce with the French was not entirely free. The Britons were then possessed of no lands in the diocess of Nantes except the territory of Croisic, in which was the palace of Aula Quiriaca or Guerrande, vulgarly Warand, probably so called from Guerech I. the British count of Vannes, who resided there. Canao, one of his successors, when Felix was made bishop, had put to death three of his brothers, and held a fourth named Macliau in prison. St. Felix by his intercession saved his life, and obtained his liberty. St. Gregory of Tours complains that bishop Felix had been prepossessed by false informations against Peter, Gregory’s brother, and accused him of favouring an unworthy nephew; but in other places bears testimony to his eminent sanctity, which is much extolled by Fortunatus and others. Guerech II. count of Vannes, plundered the diocesses of Rennes and Vannes, and repulsed the troops which king Chilperic sent against him; but at the entreaties of St. Felix, withdrew his forces, and made peace. The holy prelate died on the 8th of January in 584, the seventieth year of his age, of his episcopal dignity thirty three.
He is honoured at Nantes, of which he was the sixteenth bishop from St. Clair, on the 7th of July, the day of the translation of his relics. See Fortunatus, l. 3. c. 4, 5, 6, 7. St. Gregory of Tours, l. 5. c. 5. Ceillier, t. 16. p. 562. M. Travers, Histoire abrégée des Evéques de Nantes, tome 7. part 2. des Mémoires de Littérature recueillis par P. Desmolets de l’Oratoire. Stilting the Bollandist, t. 2. Jul. p. 470. Lobineau, Vies des SS. de Bretagne, p. 121.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.