Saints and Festivals of the Christian Church – Saint Maximus of Riez

Article

illustration of Saint Maximus, Bishop, from 'Pictorial Lives of the Saints'Is sacred to the memory of one of those holy men who in the early centuries of the Christian Era did not hesitate to lay aside wealth or rank that they might serve the Great Master Saint Maximus, erstwhile bishop of Reiz. To him as a young man the world presented peculiar attractions. He had ample wealth, while his unusual manly beauty, his genial temperament and his wit made him an especial favourite both among men and women. Thus for years after reaching manhood he lived in the world and enjoyed its pleasures. But even during these years he felt there was “yet one thing lacking.” His heart and conscience told him what that was, and at last he cast everything aside that he might attain the prize he sought.

Following Christ’s teaching, he first distributed his worldly goods to the poor and then sought refuge in the monastery of Lerins. It seems needless to say his life here was in conformity to the great purpose which had led him to seek it, winning for him the love and respect of his brethren. It was this display of earnest purpose which induced Saint Honoratus, the founder of the monastery and its first abbot, to select Maximus as his successor in the abbacy, when the saint was made archbishop of Aries in 426.

The chronicles of the day show that the monastery, already in high repute for its sanctity and learning, under the new abbot “seemed to gain new lustre,” while the cheerfulness of the abbot made the “monks scarcely to feel the severity of the rules,” and drew crowds of eager devotees to it.

True worth in man has in no age of the world allowed its possessor to remain hidden and thus it was that in 433, when the see of Reiz became vacant, Maximus was sought for to fill the episcopate. Much as he loved the peaceful retirement of his monastery, duty at all times took precedence above all else, and he reluctantly accepted the high honour. But with his new dignity he still remained the same humble, self-sacrificing, generous man he ever had been and in him his people found not alone a pastor, but also a physician and a teacher whom they loved and trusted. His ministrations continued during twenty-seven years until his death in 460. He is the patron saint of the diocese of Boulogne in Picardy, and the common people universally called him “Masse.”

MLA Citation

  • H Pomeroy Brewster. “Saint Maximus of Riez”. Saints and Festivals of the Christian Church, 1902. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 February 2019. Web. 29 November 2020. <>