St. Chrodegang, Bishop of Metz, Confessor
THIS saint, nobly born in Brabant, then called Hasbain, was educated in the abbey of St. Tron, and for his great learning and virtue was made referendary, chancellor of France, and prime minister, by Charles Martel, mayor of the French palace, in 737. He was always meanly clad from his youth; he macerated his body by fasting, watching, and hair-cloths, and allowed his senses no superfluous gratifications of any kind. His charity to all in distress seemed to know no bounds; he supported an incredible number of poor, and was the protector and father of orphans and widows. Soon after the death of Charles Martel, he was chosen bishop of Metz, in 742. Prince Pepin, the son and successor of Charles, uncle to our saint by his mother, Landrada, would not consent to his being ordained, but on the condition that he should still continue at the helm of the state. Chrodegang always retained the same sweetness, humility, recollection, and simplicity in his behaviour and dress. He constantly wore a rough hair-shirt under his clothes, spent great part of the night in watching, and usually at his devotions watered his cheeks with tears. Pope Stephen III. being oppressed by the Lombards, took refuge in France. Chrodegang went to conduct him over the Alps, and King Pepin was no sooner informed that he had passed these mountains in his way to France, but he sent Charles his eldest son, to accompany him to Pont-yon, in Champagne, where the king was to receive him. The pope being three miles distant from that city, the king came to meet him, and having joined him alighted from his horse, and prostrated himself, as did the queen, his children, and the lords of his court; and the king walked some time by the side of his horse to do him honour. The pope retired to the monastery of St. Denys; and King Pepin, in the year 754, sent St. Chrodegang on an embassy to Astulph, king of the Lombards, praying him out of respect to the holy apostles not to commit any hostilities against Rome, nor to oblige the Romans to superstitions contrary to their laws, and to restore the towns which he had taken from the holy see; but this embassy was without effect. The saint, in 755, converted the chapter of secular canons of his cathedral into a regular community, in which he was imitated by many other churches. He composed for his regular canons a rule, consisting of thirty-four articles. In the first he lays down humility for the foundation of all the rest. 1 He obliged the canons to confess at least twice a year to the bishop, before the beginning of Advent and Lent. 2 But these churches, even that of Metz, have again secularized themselves. The saint built and endowed the monasteries of St. Peter, that of Gorze, and a third in the diocess of Worms, called Lorsh or Laurisham. He died on the 6th of March, in 766, and was buried at Gorze, to which by his will, which is still extant, he demised several estates. He is named in the French, German, and Belgic Martyrologies. 1
The zeal of St. Chrodegang in restoring the primitive and apostolic spirit in the clergy, particularly their fervour and devotion in the ministry of the altar, is the best proof of his ardour to advance the divine honour. To pay to Almighty God the public homage of praise and love, in the name of the whole church, is a function truly angelical. Those, who by the divine appointment are honoured with this sublime charge resemble those glorious heavenly spirits who always assist before the throne of God. What ought to be the sanctity of their lives! how pure their affections, how perfectly disengaged from all inordinate attachments to creatures, particularly how free from the least filth of avarice, and every other vice! All Christians have a part in this heavenly function. 2
Note 1. Ch. 14.
Note 2. See the other regulations abridged in Fleury, &c. the entire rule published genuine in Le Cointe’s Annals, t. 5. and in the later editions of the councils.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume III: March.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.