Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Anian, or Agnan, Bishop of Orleans, Confessor

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The name of Saint Anian is famous in the Gallican church. He was a native of Vienne, and consecrated his youth to the exercises of prayer and penance, in a cell which he built for himself near that city. Hearing of the great reputation of Saint Evurtius, bishop of Orleans, for sanctity, he repaired to that city, and, becoming his disciple, distinguished himself by his fervour and virtue. Saint Evurtius died in 390, and was buried in Saint Mary’s now an abbey of regular canons, called from him Saint Evuerte. Saint Anian was his coadjutor, and succeeded him, and is reckoned the seventh bishop of Orleans. The governor of the city refused to release the prisoners at his request, on account of his installation, according to custom; but falling sick, immediately set them at liberty. It is related in Saint Anian’s life quoted by Florus, that his election was made by a child drawing his name out among several billets laid upon the altar; but this circumstance seems foisted in. When Attila, the Hun, entered Gaul, Saint Anian went to Arles to implore the protection of Aëtius, the Roman general, and speedily returned to his flock. The barbarian marching from Metz sat down before Orleans. The citizens in the utmost consternation ran to their holy pastor as to their common father, who encouraged them to a vigorous defence, and bade them prostrate themselves before God in compunction and humble prayer. They persevered praying with tears and loud cries. The walls shook, and seemed already falling under the shocks of the battering rams, when Aëtius with Theudo, king of the Goths, and Thorismond his son, came up with a powerful army, raised the siege, and soon after defeated Attila. Saint Gregory of Tours tells us, that the deliverance of the city was ascribed to the merits and prayers of the holy pastor. Saint Anian died happily two years after, in 453, and was interred in the royal collegiate church of Saint Peter, now called Saint Anian’s: but his relics are now possessed by the abbey of Saint Laurence, of which he had been once abbot. He is honoured in the Roman Martyrology, and in the Paris and many other Breviaries. See Saint Gregory of Tours,and his life older than Florus, who lived in the time of Lewis Debonnaire.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Anian, or Agnan, Bishop of Orleans, Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 18 November 2013. Web. 20 September 2018. <>