St. Cloud, Confessor
ST. CLOUD, called in Latin Chlodoardus, is the first and most illustrious saint among the princes of the royal family of the first race in France. He was son of Chlodomir, king of Orleans, the eldest son of St. Clotilda, and was born in 522. He was scarcely three years old when his father was killed in Burgundy in 524; but his grandmother, Clotilda, brought up himand his two brothers, Theobald and Gunthaire, at Paris, and loved them extremely. Their ambitious uncles, Childebert, king of Paris, and Clotaire, king of Soissons, divided the kingdom of Orleans between them, and stabbed with their own hands the two eldest of their nephews, Theobald and Gunthaire, the former being ten, the latter seven years old. Cloud, by a special providence, was saved from the massacre, and cut off his hair with his own hands, by that ceremony renouncing the world, and devoting himself to the service of God in a monastic state. He had many fair opportunities of recovering his father’s kingdom; but, young as he was, he saw by the light of grace that all that appears most dazzling in worldly greatness is no better than smoke, and that a Christian gains infinitely more by losing than by possessing it. In the true estimation of things, he most emphatically deserves to be styled a king who is master of himself, and has learned the art of ruling those passions to which kings are often miserably enslaved. This victory over himself the pious prince gained, and constantly maintained by humility, meekness, and patience, by austerity of life, watchfulness, assiduous prayer, and holy contemplation. By this means he enjoyed in a little cell a peace which was never interrupted by scenes of ambition or vanity, and he tasted in the service of God too solid a joy to think of exchanging it for the racking honours or bitter pleasures of a false world, or of converting the tranquility and real delight which he possessed into the dangers, confusion, and perplexity of a court. Coarse clothing gave him more satisfaction than the richest purple could have done; he enjoyed in his own breast and in his cell all he desired to possess in this world, and he daily thanked God who had drawn him out of Babylon before he was infected with its corruption and intoxicating Circean wine. His contempt of all earthly things increased in proportion as he advanced in virtue and heavenly light. 1
After some time he removed from his first abode to put himself under the discipline of St. Severinus, a holy recluse who lived near Paris, from whose hands he received the monastic habit. Under this experienced master the fervent novice made great progress in Christian perfection; but the neighbourhood of Paris being a trouble to him who desired nothing so much as to live unknown to the world, he withdrew secretly into Provence, where he passed several years, and wrought many miracles. Seeing he gained nothing by the remoteness of his solitude, after his hermitage was once made public by many resorting to him, he at length returned to Paris, and was received with the greatest joy imaginable. At the earnest request of the people he was ordained priest by Eusebius, bishop of Paris, in 551, and served that church some time in the functions of the sacred ministry. He afterwards retired to Nogent, on the Seine, now called St. Cloud, two leagues below Paris, where he built a monastery dependent on the church of Paris. In this monastery he assembled many pious men, who fled out of the world for fear of losing their souls in it. St. Cloud was regarded by them as their superior, and he animated them to all virtue both by word and example. All his inheritance he bestowed on churches, or distributed among the poor. The village of Nogent he settled on the episcopal see of Paris, as is mentioned in the letters patent, by which this place was erected into a duchy and peerage in favour of the archbishop. 1 St. Cloud was indefatigable in instructing and exhorting the people of the neighbouring country, and piously ended his days at Nogent about the year 560. He is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on the 7th of September, which seems to have been the day of his death. The monastery has been since changed into a collegiate church of canons, where the relics of the saint are still kept, and the place bears his name. 2John Picus, prince of Mirandula, who died in the year 1494, the thirty-second of his age, a prodigy of wit and learning, and after his conversion from the love of applause and pleasure had lived a truly Christian philosopher, expressed himself on the happiness of holy retirement and contempt of the world as follows: 2 “Many think it a man’s greatest happiness in this life to enjoy dignity and power, and to live in the plenty and splendour of a court; but of these, you know, I have had a share; and I can assure you I could never find in my soul true satisfaction in any thing but in retreat and contemplation. I am persuaded the Cæsars, if they could speak from their sepulchres, would declare Picus more happy in his solitude than they were in the government of the world; and if the dead could return, they would have chosen the pangs of a second death rather than risk their salvation a second time in public stations.” 3
Note 1. See Abbé Lebeuf, Hist. du Diocése de Paris, t. 7.
Note 2. Joan. Picus de Mirand. ep. ad amicum Andræam corneum.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume IX: September.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.