Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Remigius of Rheims

Saint Remigius (French Saint Rémi or Saint Rémy), Bishop of Rheims, Apostle of the Franks, (c. 437–533) effected the conversion to Christianity of Clovis, King of the Franks, at Christmas, 496, one of the turning points in the success of orthodox catholic faith and a climactic moment in European history.

Born into a noble family of Galo-Roman origin, Remigius as a young man was known for his intelligence, education and religious zeal. At age of twenty-two his reputation earned him the Archbishopric of Rheims though he was still a layman. After being seated in his new office, Remigius set as his chief goal the conversion of the pagan Franks which had conquered Gaul and had become a major power in the region, to this end Remigius befriended the Frankish King Clovis.

The story of the return of the sacred vessels, which had been stolen from the Church of Soissons testifies to the friendly relations existing between Remigius and Clovis, whom he converted to Christianity with the assistance of St. Waast (Vedastus, Vaast) and St. Clotilda, wife of Clovis. Even before he embraced Christianity Clovis had showered benefits upon both the Bishop and Cathedral of Rheims, and after the battle of Tolbiac, he requested Remigius to baptize him at Rheims (24 December, 496) in presence of several bishops and great numbers of the Frankish army.

Though Remigius never attended any of the church councils, in 517 he held a synod at Rheims, at which after a heated discussion he converted a bishop of Arian views. Although St Remigius' 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.

With the conversion of the Franks and the Carolingian dynasty, Remigius may have unknowingly preserved Christian European Civilization. In 732 at the Battle of Tours, it was the Franks that led the Christian armies in defeating the Mohammedan forces of the Umayyad Caliphate, thereby stemming the Saracen invasion of Europe.

Propers for Remigius - Bishop, Missionary and Enlightener of the Franks


O God, who by the teaching of thy faithful servant and bishop Remigius [and the loving influence and example of thy handmaid Clotilda] didst turn the nation of the Franks from vain idolatry to the worship of thee, the true and living God, in the fullness of the catholic faith; Grant that we who glory in the name of Christian may show forth our faith in worthy deeds; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Epistle - 1 John 4:1-6.

Gospel - St. John 14:3-7.

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