Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Maieul, Abbot of Cluni, Confessor

Article

[In Latin, Majodus] Avignon, where this great personage was born, of a very rich and illustrious family, about the year 906, being exposed to the incursions of the Saracens, Maieul, after the death of his parents, retired to Macon, to a nobleman who was his relation. There he received the tonsure; and Bernon, the bishop, gave him a canonry in his cathedral, in hopes of fixing him in his diocess. Antony, abbot of L’Isle Barbe, at that time taught philosophy with great reputation at Lyons. Maieul went thither; but whilst he pursued his studies he dedicated a considerable part of his time every day to his devotions; and though by his progress in learning he raised the admiration of all who knew him, it was principally in the school of virtue that he every day outdid himself. His higher studies he completed at Macon, and was, when yet young, raised to the dignity of archdeacon. The archiepiscopal see of Besancon, soon after falling vacant, the prince, clergy, and people unanimously chose Maieul to fill it. To escape this danger he fled to Cluni, and there made his monastic profession about the year 942. The abbot Aimard appointed him library keeper and apocrisiarius, to the first of which charges was annexed the care of the studies, to the second that of the treasury, and of all important affairs out of the monastery. As Saint Berno, the first abbot of Cluni, had chosen Saint Odo his coadjutor, and Saint Odo Aimard, so Aimard in 948 raised Saint Maieul to the dignity of joint abbot with him, though he survived to the year 965. His extraordinary merit and virtue gained him the respect and esteem of all the princes of that age. The Emperor Otho the Great placed an entire confidence in him, and gave him the superintendence over all the monasteries in his dominions. The Empress Saint Alice and her son Otho II had no less regard for him; and by him, when they were at variance, a happy reconciliation was effected. They conspired to have him raised to the popedom; but could by no means overcome his opposition. To all that could be urged he replied: “He knew how far he was from being possessed of the essential qualifications for that exalted station: also how opposite his manners were to those of the Romans.” Saint Maieul was very learned, and a great encourager of all useful studies. Three years before his death he appointed Saint Odilo his coadjutor in 991, not in 998, as D’Acheri, who published the act of his election, imagined. It is signed by Saint Maieul, by Rodolph, king of Burgundy, several archbishops, bishops, secular lords, and one hundred and seventy-seven monks. From that time, the saint gave himself up entirely to the exercises of penance and contemplation. He could not, however, decline, at the earnest request of Hugh Capet, king of France, to undertake a journey to settle a reformation in the abbey of Saint Denys, near Paris.—He fell sick on the road at the monastery of Souvigni, two leagues from Moulins, and there died on the 11th of May, in 994. His remains were buried there in the church of Saint Peter; King Hugh honoured the ceremony with his presence, and enriched his tomb with many presents. An altar was erected there soon after, according to the manner of canonizing saints in those days. He is named in the Roman Martyrology on this day. His life is written by Syrus, a monk of Cluni, who dedicated this work to Saint Odilo. It is given genuine by Mabillon, Actor. Bened. Aldebald, a monk of the same house, added a preface and some trifling digressions, whilst Saint Odilo was still abbot. Two short lives of this saint were compiled soon after, which see in the continuators of Bollandus, with ancient relations of miracles wrought at his tomb.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Maieul, Abbot of Cluni, Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 12 May 2013. Web. 21 August 2017. <>