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Arnulf of Soissons, St.


Reforming bishop; b. Pamel, Brabant, Belgium, c. 1040; d. Oudenbourg, Belgium, Aug. 15, 1087. His life admirably illustrates both the piety and the irregularity of ecclesiastical life in Europe before the Gregorian Reform. He devoted himself to personal asceticism and to an unsuccessful effort at ecclesiastical reform. After a brief military career, Arnulf entered the monastery of Saint-Médard at Soissons c. 1020. His rigorous asceticism won the admiration of his fellow monks, and they elected him to replace Raymond, then abbot of the monastery, a worldly man and guilty of simony. In the year 1080 or 1081 he was elected bishop of Soissons, again to replace an ecclesiastic of bad repute, Bishop Ursio. However, Arnulf's efforts to reform the diocesan clergy were stoutly and successfully resisted, and within a few years he was compelled to leave the diocese. He resigned the bishopric and again took up the monastic life, this time at Oudenbourg in Flanders, where he founded a monastery and lived out his days. He was buried in the church there, and in 1121 his body was translated and a public cult was declared. His life was written by Lizard, Bishop of Soissons, in the same century. Another account was written by Hariulf (d. 1143), who was abbot of Saint-Médard at Oudenbourg.

Feast: Aug. 15.

Bibliography: Bibliotheca hagiograpica latina antiquae et mediae aetatis (Brussels 18981901) 1:703705a. Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores 15.2:872904. a. prÉvost, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 4:617618. a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum (Metten 193338) 2:576578. f. ramon, Drie vlaamsche sinten in een kerkraam (second ed. Tielt, Flanders 1945). É. de moreau, Histoire de l'Église en Belgique (second ed. Brussels 1945). o. englebert, The Lives of the Saints, tr. c. and a. fremantle (New York 1951). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 3:335336. a. m. zimmermann, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 1:901.

[h. mackinnon]

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