Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Ado, Archbishop of Vienne

Saint Adonis of ViennaArticle

In the year 875, Saint Ado, Archbishop of Vienne, in France, rested in the Lord. Descended from a noble family, he passed his youth in the monastery of Ferrieres, where his pious parents had placed him that he might be thoroughly instructed and led in the path of virtue. Young as he was in years, he was so earnest, modest and retiring, that he resembled an old religious more than a youth of the nobility. With years he increased in wisdom and piety in such a manner, that he was admired by every one. The sweetness and delight that he had tasted in the service of God, determined him to remain for the remainder of his life within the walls that had sheltered his youth. No flatteries of his relatives, no persuasions, could change his resolution. He took the habit and endeavored to live as a true religious in accordance with the rule. At the end of a few years, he was to all a shining example of spiritual perfection. The fame of his virtues, wisdom and erudition became known in other monasteries; and Marquard, Abbot of Prom, in the diocese of Treves, asked for him as master of the novices. This office Saint Ado discharged with admirable care and industry, to the great joy of the pious Marquard. At the death of the latter, Ado went, with the permission of his superior, to Rome, where he remained nearly five years giving excellent proofs of his virtues and talents. Returning to France, he went to Lyons, where the bishop soon became acquainted with his knowledge and wisdom. Desiring to keep him, he asked the permission of the Saint’s abbot, saying that he wished to make use of his piety and wisdom for the benefit of the Church. The abbot gave the desired permission, and the bishop charged Saint Ado with the administration of the parish of Saint Romanus, not far from Vienne. How zealous he was in the fulfillment of his duties is plainly to be perceived in the high esteem that he won from the entire clergy, who after the death of the Archbishop of Vienne, unanimously elected him as successor. The humble servant of the Lord, deeming himself unworthy of so high a dignity, would have fled, but he was intercepted; and, notwithstanding all his objections, Ado was compelled to accept the episcopal dignity.

So unexpected an elevation did not cause the Saint to change in the least his pious conduct, but gave it new and brighter lustre. The same spirit of humility, modesty, mortification and devotion, which formerly had made him an example to all, still kept their sway over him. He labored so earnestly and with such success to instruct the ignorant, to reform morals, to abolish abuses, and restore piety, that in one year his whole archbishopric was entirely renewed. The aim of most of his exhortations and sermons was to impress on his flock the hatred of sin, and the necessity of penance; for he considered nothing more dangerous than to remain long in sin, or to make even a habit of sinning, and hence, almost constantly to remain in iniquity. To arouse sinners to repentance, he erected, at the entrance of the cathedral, a little chapel in the form of the sepulchre of our holy Redeemer, and built an altar in commemoration of the three great penitents, Saint Magdalen, Saint Paul and the good thief, Dismas. This admonition effected much good and converted many hardened sinners. The Almighty afterwards made this chapel famous by many miracles. With his zeal to convert sinners, Saint Ado combined true compassion for the poor and fatherly love for them. His income was spent mostly for their comfort, and for the building of several houses for the maintenance of the needy. His servants were ordered to admit the poor even when he was at table; for he used to say: “It is one of the first duties of a bishop to give admittance to his sheep at all times; that they may find comfort and help in their cares.” Towards himself he was extremely severe, never permitting himself the slightest relaxation, scarcely even the necessary rest at night, as he occupied the greater portion of it in prayer and study. Notwithstanding his many and important affairs, he was always the first in the Cathedral choir, because it was his belief that prayer and the praise to the Most High, should always be preferred to all other business. In this manner, Saint Ado had reached the age of 75 years, during sixteen of which he had been bishop, when it pleased the Almighty to call this faithful and unwearied servant to receive his eternal reward, by a happy death, on the 16th of December, 875.

Practical Considerations

• You observed how Saint Philogonius acted towards those who, during their martyrdom or for fear of it, departed from the true faith. Endeavor to imitate him. There are persons who, while they were young, or later in life, committed great iniquities, but who afterwards did penance, and now lead an edifying life; while others, to the scandal of their neighbors, still live in sin. If you can do anything to convert the latter, leave it not undone. “Reprove,” says Saint Paul to his disciple Timothy; “entreat, rebuke;” but he adds, “in all patience.” (Timothy 6) or, as he says elsewhere,” in the spirit of meekness.” (Galatians 6) Take care that you do not despise the penitent for what is past; never reproach them with their former evil deeds; do not even mention them; otherwise, you sin against charity. Rather pity them in your heart, and rejoice in their penance, as the Angels in heaven rejoiced at it. If you had been in their circumstances, or been tempted as they were, who knows that you would not have fallen much deeper than they did? You have God alone to thank for your escape. And who knows whether you will not today or tomorrow commit greater iniquities than they did? And if it should happen, tell me, would you like that every one should therefore despise you and reproach you with your crimes? Surely not; hence, do not so to others. The Almighty does not despise a sinner who repents; how then do you dare do so? In the whole Gospel you cannot find that Christ reproached the repentant Magdalen, or Peter, with the sins they had formerly committed; what then gives you the right to reproach others? God promises by His prophet, that if the wicked do penance, He will forgive his iniquities. (Ezekiel 18) Why then will you remember them and frequently refer to them? Take to heart the beautiful admonition of the Wise Man: “Despise not a man that turns away from sin, nor reproach him therewith. Remember that we are all worthy of reproof. (Eccles. 8)

• Saint Ado deemed nothing more dangerous than to remain long in sin, or to live almost continually in it. The Saint judged rightly; for, such a man has every reason to fear that he will die in sin, and Hence go to eternal destruction. We generally die as we have lived; if we live in continual sin, it can hardly be expected that we shall not die in it. It would be a miracle of divine mercy not to die in sin after having continually lived in it. Whoever makes a habit of doing evil, and almost continually lives in it, generally dies without penance; because either he has no time for penance, being suddenly called away from the world, or he does not recognize, at the approach of death, the danger he is in, or because the disturbance of his mind and the violence of his pain allow him not to think of penance. But even should it happen that he does penance before his end, it is much to be feared that this penance is not satisfactory for want of true sorrow 7 , of earnest resolution, or of a sincere confession. In these cases it is very plain that a man is in danger of going to eternal destruction. Besides this, Holy Writ assures us, that a man without fear cannot be justified (Eccles. 1); meaning, that because he does not do true penance, he cannot obtain pardon for his sins. A man who makes a habit of sin and almost continually lives in it, shows that he is without fear, that he fears neither God, nor His disfavor, His menaces, nor the punishment that awaits the impenitent sinner. How can true penance be expected from such a person? How can we imagine that he will obtain the pardon of his sins? If he had the least fear, he would most assuredly not offend the Lord so recklessly; he would appease Him without delay by true penance, and thus save himself from the danger of eternal damnation. Heed this lesson. Avoid all sin; but if you have sinned, remain not in so dangerous a condition; do penance, and make not a habit of doing wrong. Should you, however, already have done so, tear yourself away from the brink of the precipice on which you are standing. Be sure that evil habits must be uprooted, if you wish to go to heaven. Be sure also that they can be uprooted. The manner in which this can be done I have elsewhere pointed out to you. If you live almost continually in sin and do not overcome the evil habit, the words, with which Christ menaced the Pharisees, will become true of you: “You shall seek me, and shall not find me; and you shall die in your sins.” (John 8)

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Ado, Archbishop of Vienne”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 June 2018. Web. 21 November 2019. <>