Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Paternus, Bishop of Avranches, Confessor


[Called by the French Patier, Pair, and Foix.] He was born at Poitiers, about the year 482. His father, Patranus, with the consent of his wife, went into Ireland, where he ended his days in holy solitude. Paternus, fired by his example, embraced young a monastic life in the abbey of Ansion, called, in succeeding ages, Marnes, and at present, from the name of a holy abbot of that house, Saint Jovin des Marnes, in the diocess of Poitiers. After some time, burning with a desire of attaining to the perfection of Christian virtue, he passed over to Wales, and in Cardiganshire founded a monastery called Llan-patern-vaur, or the church of the great Paternus. He made a visit to his father in Ireland: but being called back to his monastery of Ansion, he soon after retired with Saint Scubilion, a monk of that house, and embraced an austere anchoretical life in the forest of Scicy, in the diocess of Coutances, near the sea, having first obtained leave of the bishop and of the lord of the place. This desert, which was then of a great extent, but has been since gradually gained upon by the sea, was anciently in great request among the Druids. Saint Pair converted to the faith the idolaters of that and many neighbouring parts, as far as Bayeux, and prevailed with them to demolish a pagan temple in this desert, which was held in great veneration by the ancient Gauls. Saint Senier, called in Latin Senator, Saint Gaud, and Saint Aroastes, holy priests, were his fellow hermits in this wilderness, and his fellow labourers in these missions. Saint Pair, in his old age, was consecrated bishop of Avranches by Germanus, bishop of Rouen. The church of Avranches was exceedingly propagated in the reign of Clovis, or his children, by Saint Severus, the second bishop of the see, who built the famous abbey which still bears his name, in the diocess of Coutances, and is honoured at Rouen on the 1st of February, at Avranches on the 7th of July. Saint Pair governed his diocess thirteen years, and died about the year 550, on the same day with Saint Scubilion. Both were buried in the same monument, in the oratory of Scicy, now the parish church of Saint Pair, a village much frequented by pilgrims, near Granville, on the sea-coast. In the same oratory was inferred Saint Senator, or Senier, the successor of Saint Pair, in the see of Avranches, who died in 563, and is honoured on the 18th of September. This church is still enriched with the greater part of these relics, and those of Saint Gaud, except those of Saints Severus and Senier, which have been translated to the cathedral at Rouen, and portions of Saint Senier’s are at Saint Magloire’s and Saint Victor’s at Paris. Saint Pair is titular saint of a great number of churches in those parts.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Paternus, Bishop of Avranches, Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 15 April 2013. Web. 19 March 2018. <>