If anyone ever had a calling to be a priest, it was Amatus (Amé to the French). The great hagiographer Alban Butler describes his childhood for paragraphs, using every synonym for pious in the English language. The boy's parents watched him closely, eager to help guide him toward salvation, but to their dismay, the kid never made a misstep. He never cut class to get stoned behind the gym. He never kept a girl out past her curfew (or at all, for that matter). He never even swiped a candy bar from the local sandwich shop. No one was surprised when he entered the local monastery.
|Amatus of Sion|
As a monk, he stood out for his humility and diligence. He was intelligent, learning as much as was appropriate, but never dabbled in the sciences that lead to doubt rather than salvation. [Yeah, well, that may not cut it since the Enlightenment, but at one time, that was a virtue.] He carved a little oratory and cell into the rocky hillside near his monastery to refine his spiritual meditations before his ordination into the priesthood. And eventually, he was elevated to the post of bishop of Sion, in the Swiss canton of Valais.
Unfortunately, he was serving during the administration of Theodoric III, the first of the so-called Idle Kings, and Ebroin, his venal Mayor of the Palace. A great number of saints got their martyrs' palms from these two tyrants; most notable among their victims was Saint Leodegarius. Amatus, though he suffered at their hands, was not among those martyred by them.
|Saint Amatus beer|
He was wrongly accused of unspecified treasons -- Theodoric didn't need much to go on before handing out punishments. Without synod, council, or even a simple hearing, Amatus was banished to St. Fursey's monastery in Peronne. The good abbot, Saint Ultan, treated him respectfully; the ever-pious Amatus lived reverently and obediently without ever complaining of the injustice. When Ultan died, custody of Amatus was assigned to Saint Mauront in Hamaye. Mauront then opened a new monastery in Breuil, to which his prisoner-bishop accompanied him. Mauront was as kind and supportive as Ultan was -- when he followed Ultan to his reward, Amatus became the Abbot of Breuil, where he remained until his own death.
In case you were wondering, Ebroin's many crimes eventually caught up with him. He was assassinated around 680. Theodoric III outlived his Mayor by a decade, during which time he repented of the many crimes that had secured his reign. Among his attempts at restitution were generous donations to the abbey at Breuil.