This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, May 28, 2012

May 28 -- Feast of Saint Germain of Paris

Not every saint has a football (soccer) team
This sixth century Frankish (French) bishop died at around eighty years old, which one might well attribute to his abstemious lifestyle.  As an abbot at St. Symphorian's monastery, he was as generous with the poor as he was stingy with his own diet and that of the brothers in his care.  They were not disheartened when King Childebert detained him to fill the vacant See of Paris.  Not that they begrudged the poor a crust of bread or a cup of wine, but Germain always seemed to be threatening the April menu with his January charity. 

Childebert was everything you'd expect from a Dark Ages king, but Germain went to work on him.  Childebert was receptive to becoming a holy king, crushing pagan idolatry with one hand while caring for the needy with the other. 

A modest diet supports good posture
In AD 542 Childebert and his brother Clotaire laid siege to Sargossa, Spain.  The Spanish placed their faith in Saint Vincent, whose relics they paraded past the French camp.  The reformed French king did not attack them and steal the relics; rather, he summoned their bishop and agreed to lift the siege if they would give him one of the relics of St. Vincent.  The bishop generously gave the stole that Vincent had worn at the altar -- at least that's what he told Childebert.  The French king, receiving the relic in good faith, took it to Paris and built a new church to house it.  That church was initially dedicated to Vincent, but evolved into St. Germain-des-Pres.  Unfortunately, the folks leading the French Revolution blew up some of the church and destroyed all the relics housed therein.

Bell tower, St. Germain-des-Pres
Germain remained the Bishop of Paris through the reign of Clotaire, who succeeded his brother.  King Clotaire briefly reunited the Frankish kingdoms that he and his brothers had divided, but upon his death, his sons redivided them.  Charibert, a stubborn and self-indulgent king, inherited the area around Paris.  Germain advised him to control his appetites and save his soul, but instead he divorced his wife (the mother of his three daughters) and married her maid, even though the girl had taken a nun's veil.  When the maid died, he married her sister.  Eventually Germain couldn't take it any more and excommunicated them.  Shortly after that, the Queen died, and then the King followed her shortly after. 

The remaining brothers tried a power-sharing deal for Paris, but it shortly devolved into war.  Chilperic briefly tried to hold the city, but his brother Sigebert drove him out and then sought to follow up with an attack at Tournay.  Germain admonished him to abandon this attack, but he wouldn't listen and was assassinated en route to his brother's stronghold.  Then Chilperic returned to the city, and mercifully, was still on the throne when the eighty year old bishop went to his rest and reward.  The King didn't last much longer, being murdered by his wife's lover so that she could rule for her sons as regent, but at least the old saint didn't have to suffer that.

No comments:

Post a Comment