Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Arnoul, or Arnulphus, Bishop of Soissons, Confessor


He was a French nobleman, and had distinguished himself in the armies of Robert and Henry I, kings of France. He was called to a more noble warfare, resolving to employ for God the labour which, till then, he had rather consecrated to the service of the world. He became a monk in the great monastery of Saint Medard at Soissons; and his example was followed by many other persons of distinction. After he had for some time made trial of his strength in the exercises of a cenobitic life, he formed to himself a new plan more suitable to his fervour. With his abbot’s leave he shut himself up in a narrow cell, and in the closest solitude, almost without any commerce with men, devoted himself to assiduous prayer, and the exercises of the most austere penance. He had led this manner of life three years and a half, when a council held at Meaux by a legate of Pope Gregory VII. at the request of the clergy and people of Soissons, resolved to place him in that episcopal see. To the deputies of the council who came on that errand, Arnold returned this answer: “Leave a sinner to offer to God some fruits of penance; and compel not a madman to take upon him a charge which requires so much wisdom.” He was, however, obliged to put his shoulders under the burden. He set himself with incredible zeal to fulfill every branch of his ministry; but finding himself not able to correct certain grievous abuses among the people, and fearing the account he should have to give for others no less than for himself, he procured leave to resign his dignity. He afterwards founded a great monastery at Aldenburgh, then a considerable city, in the diocess of Bruges, towards Ostend, where he happily died on sackcloth and ashes in 1087. Many miracles wrought at his tomb were approved in a council held at Beauvais in 1121. His relics were enshrined in 1131, and are still preserved in the church of Saint Peter at Aldenburgh or Oudenburgh. His name is very famous over all the Low Countries and in France. See his life written by Lizard bishop of Soissons in the same century, and by Hariulph abbot of Aldenburgh. See also Sanderus, Flandria Illustrata, augmented by the canon Foppens. Gall. Chr. Nova, t. 9. p. 350.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Arnoul, or Arnulphus, Bishop of Soissons, Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 July 2014. Web. 22 January 2019. <>