samedi 15 août 2015

Saint ARNOUL (ARNULF, ARNULPHUS) de SOISSONS, évêque et confesseur

Saint Arnoul de Soissons

Évêque de Soissons ( 1087)

ou Arnoulf, évêque de Soissons. 

Originaire du Brabant, il se mit tout d'abord au service de l'empereur et du roi de France. Mais la carrière des armes n'était pas sa vocation. Sous le prétexte d'aller à la cour de France, il se rendit au monastère Saint Médard de Soissons et revêtit l'habit bénédictin. Il édifia ses frères par sa vertu, son silence et la rigueur des observances monastiques. Il connut durant un temps un abbé qui s'était fait nommer par simonie et introduisit le relâchement dans la communauté. Il fut la risée de ceux qui trouvaient qu'il pratiquait trop la pauvreté. Lorsque l’évêché de Soissons fut vacant, il lui fut demandé d'en devenir le titulaire, mais il ne put entrer dans la ville en raison de l'opposition du roi Philippe Ier. Toutes ces difficultés furent pour lui des souffrances. Il sut les accepter, les surmonter et édifier sur elles sa sainteté.

À Ondenbourg en Flandre, l’an 1087, le trépas de saint Arnoul, évêque de Soissons. De soldat devenu moine, puis évêque, il se dépensa en faveur de la paix et de la concorde, et mourut dans le monastère qu’il avait fait construire.

Martyrologe romain


Arnulf (Arnoul, Arnulphus) of Soissons, OSB B (RM)

Born in Flanders; died at Oudenbourg (Aldenburg), Bruges, Flanders (Belgium), in 1087. Arnulf was a French nobleman and soldier who rendered distinguished service to King Robert and King Henry I, when, about 1060, he entered the Benedictine monastery of Saint Médard in Soissons. After a while he obtained his abbot's permission to live as an anchorite in a narrow cell, where he devoted himself to prayer and penance for three years.

He would have loved to continue in that state but God had other plans for the lowly monk. First, he was summoned to succeed Ponce as abbot. The cenobitic community was far too lax when he had retired into his cell; in his absence it had declined further into worldliness and simony. He accepted the office only reluctantly. In fact, there is a legend that says he asked for a day in which to come to a decision about accepting it. During that time he tried to escape, but was caught by a wolf and forcibly returned before he went very far.

In 1081, he was chosen by the council of Meaux to become the next bishop of Soissons. When deputies announced the decision of the council to Arnulf, he responded: "Leave a sinner to offer to God some fruits of penance; and compel not a madman to take upon him a charge which requires so much wisdom." Nevertheless, he was compelled to undertake the burdensome position.

With incredible zeal Arnulf tried to fulfill all the obligations of his office. When he found himself unable to correct certain grievous abuses among. He was probably not a very effective administrator or politician; perhaps it was simply a saint's sharper self-knowledge, rather than just humility, that had made him unwilling to accept the office. A little less than two years after his installation, he was driven from his see by an intruder. Fearing that the fault laid within himself, he resigned rather than fighting to regain possession of his episcopal chair. Thereafter he founded Oudenbourg Abbey in the diocese of Bruges, Belgium, where he died in sackcloth and ashes.

Many of the miracles wrought at his tomb were approved during a council held at Beauvais in 1121. His relics were enshrined in 1131, and are still preserved in the church of Saint Peter at Oudenburg. His name is very famous throughout the Low Countries and in France (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).

In art, Saint Arnulf is portrayed as a bishop wearing a coat of mail under his cope. At times the image may include (1) a fish with a ring in its mouth; (2) a burning castle that Arnulf is blessing; or (3) Arnulf washing the feet of the poor (Roeder). This patron of music, millers, and brewers is venerated at Remiremont. He is invoked to find lost articles (Roeder). 

August 15

St. Arnoul, or Arnulphus, Bishop of Soissons, Confessor

HE was a French nobleman, and had distinguished himself in the armies of Robert and Henry I. kings of France. He was called to a more noble warfare, resolving to employ for God the labour which, till then, he had rather consecrated to the service of the world. He became a monk in the great monastery of St. Medard at Soissons; and his example was followed by many other persons of distinction. After he had for some time made trial of his strength in the exercises of a cenobitic life, he formed to himself a new plan more suitable to his fervour. With his abbot’s leave he shut himself up in a narrow cell, and in the closest solitude, almost without any commerce with men, devoted himself to assiduous prayer, and the exercises of the most austere penance. He had led this manner of life three years and a half, when a council held at Meaux by a legate of Pope Gregory VII. at the request of the clergy and people of Soissons, resolved to place him in that episcopal see. To the deputies of the council who came on that errand, Arnold returned this answer: “Leave a sinner to offer to God some fruits of penance; and compel not a madman to take upon him a charge which requires so much wisdom.” He was, however, obliged to put his shoulders under the burden. He set himself with incredible zeal to fulfil every branch of his ministry; but finding himself not able to correct certain grievous abuses among the people, and fearing the account he should have to give for others no less than for himself, he procured leave to resign his dignity. He afterwards founded a great monastery at Aldenburgh, then a considerable city, in the diocess of Bruges, towards Ostend, where he happily died on sackcloth and ashes in 1087. Many miracles wrought at his tomb were approved in a council held at Beauvais in 1121. His relics were enshrined in 1131, and are still preserved in the church of St. Peter at Aldenburgh or Oudenburgh. His name is very famous over all the Low Countries and in France. See his life written by Lizard bishop of Soissons in the same century, and by Hariulph abbot of Aldenburgh. See also Sanderus, Flandria Illustrata, augmented by the canon Foppens. Gall. Chr. Nova, t. 9. p. 350.

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


Saint Arnulf of Soissons

Also known as
  • Arnoldus of Soissons
  • Arnoul of Soissons
  • Arnulphus of Soissons

French nobleman. Distinguished career soldier under King Robert and King Henry I. Benedictine monk at the monastery of Saint Medard, Soissons, France c.1060. Hermit, living for three years in a tiny cell with almost no contact with the outside. Called to return to his community, he became abbot of his house. He tried to refuse the responsibility; legend says he tried to flee the house, but that a wolf blocked his path and forced him to return. Priest. Bishop of Soissons, France in 1081. When first offered the bishopric, he replied, “Leave a sinner to offer to God some fruits of penance; and compel not a madman to take upon him a charge which requires so much wisdom.” He was ordered to take the position, but found it more than he could handle. When an interloper drove him from his see, he took the opportunity as a sign, resigned, and returned to monastic life. Founded a monastery at Aldenburg, Flanders where he lived the rest of his days.