|Saint Remigius baptizing Clovis I|
No one was concerned about the nepotism. That wouldn't trouble the Church for centuries. Rather, the hitch was that young Genebald and his fair wife were not quite ready to give up connubial bliss. But since the Council of Elvira in 306, Canon Law (#33) was clear: "Bishops, presbyters, deacons, and others with a position in the ministry are to abstain completely from sexual intercourse with their wives and from the procreation of children. If anyone disobeys, he shall be removed from the clerical office."
Genebald was not removed from office when his wife bore a son. However, the lad was baptized Latro, meaning Thief, since Genebald "had engendered it by theft," as the Golden Legend puts it. It seems unjust to me that the boy was branded with his dad's sin, but in time he inherited his dad's office, and eventually also attained sainthood.
|Penitent Genebald and family before Uncle Remigius|
If you get away with it once... The happy bishop and his lovely wife also conceived a little girl, whom he baptized Vulpecula, which means Little Vixen. Again, why should she get stuck with the medieval equivalent of a stripper's name just because he had sinned?
This time, Bishop Remigius called his brother bishop to task. The balance between Remigius' punishment and Genebald's contrition is left to our imagination, but it is clear that the latter was locked in a cell for seven years with a strict diet of bread and water. The cell was sealed with Remigius' own signet so that he could be sure of Genebald's continence. And during that time, Remigius took back the episcopal duties of Laon.
When seven years had passed, an angel appeared to Genebald and set him free. He opened the door without breaking the seal, miraculous evidence to show that the sin had been absolved, the sinner approved unto God, the Bishop of Laon cleared to resume his duties. But there Genebald sat, unwilling to leave his cell until his temporal judge and uncle-in-law gave his blessing.
Fine, sighed the angel, who disappeared and returned with Bishop Remigius, who happily reinstated Genebald as bishop of Laon. The hagiographers neglected to mention what happened to the unnamed wife and Little Foxy, but as I noted above, Latro wound up with his dad's crozier, mitre, and cathedral.
|Fortunately, canon law does not forbid the OSU coach from having a family|