Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict – Saint Eustatius, Abbot

illustration of Saint Eustatius, Abbot, from the book 'Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict', designed by Father Amandus LiebhaberThe Monastery of Luxeuil, founded by Saint Columban, flourished from the very beginning, so that in a short time there was scarcely a See or an Abbey throughout Gaul whose Head had not received his religious training in that house. The community under Columban numbered three hundred, and among them one of the most distinguished was a noble Burgundian named Eustatius. This youth had bidden farewell to his parents and to his brilliant prospects in the world, and had betaken himself to Luxeuil, where his mind, impressionable as wax, readily lent itself to be moulded to virtue by Columban. When Columban was driven from Luxeuil by the fury of Brunechild, none seemed so worthy to succeed him as Eustatius. As was the custom of the Order from its institution, the cultivation of learning and of piety went hand in hand; and what was so happily begun under Columban did not fall off when Eustatius became Abbot. The number of monks was doubled, and the missionaries from Luxeuil kept the Faith alive not only in France, but in Bavaria and other parts of Germany. Idolatry did not last long where Eustatius and his monks preached, and he was equally successful in putting down heresy. At a Synod convened at Maçon, with the help of King Clothair, the Abbot crushed Agrestinus, one of his own monks, who had become tainted with the pernicious doctrines of the Schismatics of Aquileia. With similar vigour and success he refuted the false teaching of Photinus and Bononius.

The favour of the Almighty was also shown to our Saint by the cures he effected. His prayers gave sight to Salaberga. She – the daughter of his friend Gundonius – had been blind from birth. Though Salaberga had consecrated herself to the service of God, her parents insisted on her marrying, and it was only when she was left free by the death of her husband that she went to Langres to join the Sisterhood, of which she afterwards became Abbess. Eustatius was once on a journey when his companion, Agilus, fell ill of a tertian fever. This illness threatened to detain the Abbot, whose presence was just then needed at Luxeuil. In his distress he invoked the aid of Heaven, and it was not withheld; when his hands stroked the head of Agilus, the fever was banished.

When Eustatius returned to his monastery, he attended most scrupulously to the discipline of his brethren. The prosperity of Luxeuil under his government was so great that scions of the noblest houses in France flocked thither to embrace monasticism. Numerous colonies were sent forth to establish monasteries, which acknowledged Eustatius as their head. The advice of our Saint was sought, just as if he were an oracle, by persons of all conditions, from King Clothair downwards. The King, in fact, had Eustatius frequently summoned to the palace to consult with him on affairs of state.

After a long and illustrious rule, the good Abbot, feeling his end was near, sought by constant prayer and severe penances to present himself before the tribunal of his Maker free from every trace of sin. On the last day of his life, having called together his brethren, he earnestly exhorted them to a life of devotion and virtue, and then, receiving the Viaticum and Extreme Unction, he breathed his last A.D. 630.

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