Sidonius Apollinaris, St.
SIDONIUS APOLLINARIS, ST.
Fifth-century bishop of Clermont; b. Lyons, France, Nov. 5, 431 or 432; d. Clermont, between 487 and 489. As a son of a well-to-do family, he completed his classical studies and in 452 married Papianilla, daughter of the Emperor Avitus whose panegyric he pronounced before the senate in 456. When Avitus was deposed in favor of Majorian, Sidonius delivered Majorian's panegyric. On his return to Gaul he lived with his wife and three children close to Lyons or at Aydat in Auvergne. In 468 his panegyric honoring the new Emperor Anthemius gained him the prefecture of Rome. On his return to Gaul he was elected bishop of Clermont (471 or 472). He organized the resistance to the Arian Visigoths when they invaded Auvergne in 474 and was exiled to Carcassone by Euric; however, he obtained a pardon and returned to his bishopric where he died. His name, inscribed in the martyrology of st. jerome, was retained in the Roman martyrology. His cult was active in Aydat until the French Revolution. Provençal legends of Lazarus made Sidonius out to be the man born blind and cured by Christ in the Gospels (Jn 11.1–53). As the author of 24 carmina modeled on Virgil and Claudianus, three panegyrics, and verse letters, he manifests a considerable knowledge of prosody and an authentic poetic sentiment. While bishop he wrote some 147 letters, which though not theological in content contain historical, political, social, and literary information on fifth-century Gaul.
Feast: Aug. 23.
Bibliography: Opera omnia, Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v. (Paris 1878–90) 58:435–751; ed. p. mohr (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana; Leipzig 1895); Poems and Letters, v.1 ed. and tr. w. b. anderson (Loeb Classical Library; London-New York-Cambridge, Mass. 1936). h. rutherford, Sidonius Apollinaris (Clermont 1938). c. e. stevens, Sidonius Apollinaris and His Age (Oxford 1933). g. bardy, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 14.2:2033–35. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclerq, and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 1907–53) 15.1: 1423–27. b. altaner, Patrology, tr. h. graef from 5th German ed. (New York 1960) 598–599.