Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict – Saint Eucherius, Bishop

illustration of Saint Eucherius, Bishop, from the book 'Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict', designed by Father Amandus LiebhaberThe mother of Saint Eucherius was no less distinguished for her piety than for her high rank. It was her daily custom to visit one of the churches; even at night-time, accompanied by a female attendant bearing a torch, she made it her practice to be present at the singing of the Holy Office. One night, after her usual visit to the sacred edifice, an angel appeared to her in her sleep, and announced that the child she was soon to give birth to would one day be the Bishop of a great city. This vision she communicated to her husband, and it excited in him great hopes of the future greatness of his offspring. As soon as the infant was born he was taken to Autun, France, to be baptized by Ausbertus, one of the holiest monks of his time. Our Saint’s boyhood was spent at home in assiduous study and in improving himself in virtue. His favourite reading was the Holy Scriptures; and the Epistles of Saint Paul especially brought home to his mind the utter vanity of the pleasures and riches of this world. So he entered the Monastery of Gemmeticus, and by piety, watching, and every kind of mortification he strove to attain the ideal of the perfect Religious.

When Suavarius, the Bishop of Orleans and uncle of Eucherius, died, the inhabitants of that city sent a deputation to Charles Martel to beg that Eucherius, whose renown for sanctity was widespread, should be appointed successor to his uncle. The prince granted their request; but, apprehending that the Saint’s humility would cause some difficulty, he ordered his officers, if necessary, to use force in bringing Eucherius to Orleans. The exhortations of his brethren were added to the commands of the Mayor of the Palace; so the Saint, with many misgivings, consented to undertake this important charge. Neither the Bishop nor his subjects had reason to regret his elevation. Endeared to his people on account of his zeal and solicitude for their welfare, the good Bishop had his reward in the peace and happiness, the piety and good morals, that reigned throughout his diocese.

Charles Martel at this time was in great straits for money to maintain the armies he had raised to repel the Saracen invaders of France, and in his necessity he did not scruple to strip the churches of their sacred treasures. When the royal officers were proceeding to commit the same sacrilege at Orleans, the Bishop denounced their conduct, and the flatterers of the monarch represented this as a grievous insult to himself. For the present, owing to the pressure of war, the Prince had to delay his vengeance, but after his victory over the Saracens he summoned Eucherius to Paris. On the Bishop’s arrival at Verneuil, where the court then was, he was immediately banished to Cologne. The governor, the nobles, the clergy, and the burghers of that city vied with one another in doing honour to the illustrious exile. The jealous sovereign construed the Saint’s popularity into a fresh offence; so he was removed from Cologne to Hasbania, there to be kept in stricter custody by Duke Robert. The Duke, however, was charmed by our Saint’s virtues, and permitted him to live the ascetic life – the life he loved best – within the walls of the neighbouring Monastery of Saint Tron.

While Saint Eucherius lay on his deathbed, a light brighter than the sun’s filled his cell, and did not fade away till he had breathed his last, A.D. 743.

– text and illustration taken from Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict by Father Aegedius Ranbeck, O.S.B.