Saint Remigius : biography
Saint Remigius, Remy or Remi, ( ; ; ; and ), was Bishop of Reims and Apostle of the Franks, (c. 437 – January 13, 533). On 24 December 496 he baptised Clovis I, King of the Franks. This baptism, leading to the conversion of the entire Frankish people to Nicene Christianity, was a momentous success for the Catholic Church and a seminal event in European history.
Remigius was born, traditionally, at Cerny-en-Laonnois, near Laon, Picardy, into the highest levels of Gallo-Roman society. He is said to have been the son of Emilius, count of Laon (who is not otherwise attested) and of Celina, daughter of the Bishop of Soissons, which Clovis had conquered in 486. He studied at Reims and soon became so noted for his learning and sanctity, in addition to his high status, that he was elected Bishop of Reims in his twenty-second year, though still a layman.
The story of the return of the sacred vessels (most notably the Vase of Soissons), which had been stolen from the church of Soissons testifies to the friendly relations existing between him and Clovis, King of the Franks, whom he converted to Christianity with the assistance of Saint Vedast (Vedastus, Vaast, Waast) and Saint Clotilde, the Burgundian princess who was wife to Clovis. Even before he embraced Christianity, Clovis had showered benefits upon Remigius and the Christians of Reims, and after his victory over the Alamanni in the battle of Tolbiac (probably 496), he requested Remigius to baptize him at Reims (December 24, 496) in the presence of a large company of Franks and Alamanni: according to Saint Gregory of Tours, 3,000 Franks were baptized with Clovis.The legend of the ampulla of holy oil that was used to anoint the kings crowned at Reims originated after St Remigius' time, with Bishop Hincmar of Reims.
King Clovis granted Remigius stretches of territory, in which the latter established and endowed many churches. He erected bishoprics at Tournai; Cambrai; Thérouanne, where he personally ordained the first bishop in 499; Arras, where he installed St. Vedast; and Laon, which he gave to his niece's husband Gunband. In 530 he consecrated Medardus, Bishop of Noyon. Remigius' brother Principius was Bishop of Soissons and also corresponded with Sidonius Apollinaris, whose letters give a sense of the highly cultivated courtly literary Gallo-Roman style all three men shared. Paul Dubois, 1896, at the side of the Abbey of Saint-Remi, in Reims]] The chroniclers of "Gallia Christiana" record that numerous donations were made to Remigius by the Frankish nobles, which he presented to the cathedral at Reims.
Though Remigius never attended any of the church councils, in 517 he held a synod at Reims, at which after a heated discussion he converted a bishop of Arian views. Although St Remigius's influence over people and prelates was extraordinary, upon one occasion his condoning of the offences of one Claudius, a priest whom Remigius had consecrated, brought upon him the rebukes of his episcopal brethren, who deemed Claudius deserving of degradation. The reply of Remigius, still extant, is able and convincing.
Few authentic works of Remigius remain: his "Declamations" were elaborately admired by Sidonius Apollinaris, in a finely turned letter to Remigius, but are now lost. Four letters survive: one containing his defence in the matter of Claudius, two written to Clovis, and a fourth to Bishop Falco of Tongeren. The "Testament of St. Remigius" is apocryphal. A brief and strictly legendary "Vita" was formerly ascribed to Venantius Fortunatus. Another, according to Jacobus de Voragine, was written by Ignatius, bishop of Reims.Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, October 1: "St. Remigius." A letter congratulating Pope Hormisdas upon his election (523) is apocryphal, and "the letter in which Pope Hormisdas appears to have appointed him vicar of the kingdom of Clovis is proved to be spurious; it is presumed to have been an attempt of Hincmar to base his pretensions for the elevation of Reims to the primacy, following the alleged precedent of Remigius."
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