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Germain of Auxerre, St.


Bishop of Auxerre; b. Auxerre, c. 378; d. Ravenna, July 31, 448. This son of a distinguished Gallo-Roman family received the best education available in Gaul, completed his training in rhetoric and law at Rome, and entered the imperial civil service. In Rome he married a lady of high station. Some time later he was sent to northwestern Gaul (Armorica) as a dux, or military governor. On the death of St. amator, bishop of Auxerre, in 418, he was elected, much against his will, as his successor. Germain adopted an austere way of life and spent his ample private fortune in erecting or endowing churches and monasteries and on works of charity. With St. martinof tours he was the founder of cenobitic monasticism (see cenobitism) in Gaul. In 429 he and St. lupus oftroyes were sent by Pope celestine i and the Gallic bishops to combat Pelagianism in Britain; and in 447 he went on a second mission for the same purpose. He felt that an educated clergy was needed to deal effectively with heretics and stressed the formation of clerics in both Britain and Gaul. He went to Arles to plead with the highest Roman authority in Gaul for an alleviation of tax burdens for his people and apparently was successful in obtaining redress. In 448, to prevent government reprisal for a revolt in Armorica, he made the long journey to ravenna to seek a pardon from Emperor valentinian iii and his mother, Galla Placidia, who had a strong influence on the young emperor. Germain died there as he was preparing to return to Auxerre. There is a probability that St. patrick spent some years at Auxerre and was ordained by Amator and consecrated by Germain. Germain's vita was written by Constantius of Lyons only some 30 years after his death.

Feast: Aug. 3; July 31.

See Also: martyrology, roman.

Bibliography: constantius, Vita, ed. w. levison. Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 7.1:1919 225283. r. borius, ed. and tr. Constance de Lyon: Vie de saint Germain d' Auxerre (Sources Chrétiennes 112; 1965). Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquae et mediae aetatis 345364. p. viard, Catholicisme 4:188284. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints (New York 1956) 3:251253. w. levison, " Bischof Germanus von Auxerre und die Quellen zu seiner Geschichte," Neues Archiv der Gesellschaft für ältere deutsche Geschichts Kunde 29 (Hanover 1904) 95175. St. Germain et son temps (studies pub. by Assoc. Bourguignonne des Sociétés Savantes after its 1948 meeting; Auxerre 1950). m. miele, La Vita germani di Costanzo di Lione: realt storica e prospettive storiografiche nella Gallia del quinto secolo (Rome 1996). e. a. thompson, Saint Germanus of Auxerre and the End of Roman Britain (Woodbridge, Suffolk 1984). l. bieler, The Life and Legend of St. Patrick (Dublin 1949) 9396, 104106. p. grosjean, "Notes d'hagiographie celtique," Analecta Bollandiana 75 (1957) 158175.

[m. r. p. mcguire]

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