dimanche 19 mars 2017

Saint CLÉMENT de DUNBLANE, évêque dominicain

Saint Clément

Évêque de Dunblane en Écosse ( 1258)

Saint Dominique l'avait accueilli dans l'Ordre qu'il venait de fonder et lui confia la mission de le répandre en Écosse où il devint évêque de Dunblane.

Blessed Clement of Dunblane, OP (AC)

Died 1256-58. One of the pioneers about whom we hear little is the colorful and resourceful Bishop Clement of Dunblane, who received his habit from Saint Dominic's hands and introduced the Dominicans as he preached in Scotland. The monasteries he founded within a few years of the beginning of the Dominican Order served the Church well, and the Church annals are begemmed with the names of the people who made history in that interesting country.

We read the names of Robert Bruce and Lord Douglas on the rolls of benefactors of the Blackfriars. James Beaton, archbishop of Saint Andrews, fled for sanctuary to the Dominican church in 1517; and in 1554, John Knox was called to give an account of his strange doctrines in the Blackfriars Church of Edinburgh.

Clement was Scottish by birth, and having met Saint Dominic at the University of Paris and being received into the order, he was vocal and active in bringing the friars to his homeland. Tradition holds that the Scottish king, Alexander II, in Paris on a diplomatic mission, made a personal appeal to Saint Dominic for missionaries. It is an historical fact that this monarch was their first benefactor when the mission band at last arrived, shortly after Dominic's death.

The priory in the lovely, seaside town of Ayr was founded in 1230, and seven other large houses soon followed. There is record of transactions with the rulers of the region at this time, and, a few years later, King Robert Bruce granted the Dominicans the privilege of grinding their grain at his mill.

Clement was appointed bishop of Dunblane in 1233, by Pope Gregory IX, a devoted friend of Saint Dominic. He worked in this see for 23 years, and, according to an old record, he "labored with unflagging zeal to uproot superstition and destroy vice, to make true and solid piety known and practiced, and to draw the faithful entrusted to his charge to the imitation of all the virtues of Christian perfection, as he himself fulfilled al the duties of a watchful and loving pastor"--a description of a bishop that can hardly be bettered. He is described as being poor himself, and the father of the poor, and all the old writers speak of his zeal in restoring the ruined churches and the neglected rights of the Church.

According to surviving records, he must have been a busy man, this rugged missionary in an equally rugged land. He rebuilt Dunblane Cathedral, visited tirelessly among the outlying regions of his diocese, setting things in order, and solicited most of the funds for reconstruction himself. He was appointed on several papal commissions, once to inquire into the heroic virtues of Margaret of Scotland, another time to determine the validity of a bishop's appointment. He was sent to collect alms for the Holy Land in 1247, at a time when he badly needed the money to rebuild his own diocese.

Through his influence, the episcopal see was transferred from the Isle of Iona, which was frequently inaccessible and always in danger from stormy seas, to a place where it could be readily in touch with the rest of Scotland. He attended the general chapter of the Order held in London in 1250. At one time he had to pronounce a sentence of excommunication on all those who had tried to murder the king.

In spite of these varied and absorbing labors, we are interested to find that he wrote at least three books: a life of Saint Dominic, a book on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and the history of the Dominican Order in Scotland.

When Clement died, he left a legacy of personal holiness so great that even a Protestant historian would say of him: "This man was an excellent preacher, learned above many of that time, and of singular integrity of conversation" (Benedictines, Dorcy).

Blessed Clement of Dunblane


Studied at the University of Paris, France. Dominican friar, receiving the habit from Saint Dominic de Guzman. Helped introduce the Dominicans to Scotland. Noted preacher. Bishop of Dunblane, Scotland in 1233, ordained by Pope Gregory IX. He constantly travelled his diocese, rebuilding churches, including Dunblane Cathedral, fighting for the rights of the Church, and evangelizing the laity. Worked on the Cause for the canonization of Saint Margaret of Scotland. Assigned to collect alms for the Holy Land in 1247. Excommunicated a group who tried to murder the king. Wrote a biography of Saint Dominic, a book on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, a history of the Dominican Order in Scotland, and translated a number of works.

Clement of Dunblane lived from about 1200 to 19 March 1258. He became the first member of the Dominican Order in the British Isles to become a bishop. By 1250 he had become one of the Guardians appointed to govern Scotland during the minority of King Alexander III. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
According to one account, Clement was born a Scot, and after an education that included periods at the University of Oxford and the University of Paris, he was admitted into the Dominican Order in Paris in 1219.
The Dominican Order had its origins in the reformist ideology of Dominic de Guzmán, later known as Saint Dominic. By 1219, Dominic had established houses as far apart as Paris, Bologna, Madrid and Segovia. At the time of his death in 1221, there were 21 houses in Europe. Expansion of the order continued into England as houses were established at Oxford in 1221 and London in 1224, and there were five houses in England by 1230. The first Dominicans came to Scotland in about 1230 at the invitation of King Alexander II and their first house was established in 1234.
The Bishopric of Dunblane had stood vacant since 1230. In 1233, Pope Gregory IX charged the bishops of St Andrews, Brechin and Dunkeld with coming up with a successor. At the time Dominicans were seen as the cutting edge in religious thinking, and were known to have found favour with Alexander II. The choice of Clement to be the next Bishop of Dunblane was nonetheless a bold move by his fellow-bishops. It may also have been a cynical one: The Bishopric of Dunblane was a small diocese with very little income, and it is possible that the established churchmen in Scotland wanted to give Clement a post in which he was likely to fail. In Spring 1237, following a visit to Rome by Clement, the Pope wrote to the Bishop of Dunkeld saying that:
Bishop Clement ... found the Church so desolated that there was no place in the Cathedral Church where he could lay his head; it had no college of clergy; the divine offices were celebrated in a roofless church and by a rural chaplain only; and the episcopal revenues were so slender, and had been alienated to such a degree, that they scarcely sufficed to support him for half a year.
Despite the problems confronting him on arrival, Bishop Clement proved to be a success, raising enough funds to rebuild Dunblane Cathedral and to secure the future of the bishopric. In the mid 1240s Clement was asked to perform a similar financial and administrative turnaround for the Bishopric of Argyll. This had been vacant for a number of years, was by some margin the poorest in Scotland, and had the additional problem of lying largely outside the zone of effective control of the King of Scotland.
Alexander II took steps to recover control of Argyll and the Isles in the late 1240s, but died on the Island of Kerrera on 6 July 1249 during a military expedition to stamp his authority on the area. Clement was at his side when he died, and went on to be appointed as one of the Guardians of Scotland during the minority of Alexander III, who was eight when his father died.
Clement died in 1258, probably on 19 March. He was later commemorated as a Saint, though no official record of his canonisation remains. He is primarily remembered for the legacy he left in Dunblane, in particular for the magnificent cathedral he built there.