King of Burgundy (France), reputed martyr; d. ca. 524. The son of King Gundebald of Burgundy, an Arian, Sigismund was converted ca. 499 to the orthodox faith by Bp. avitus of vienne, even though he persisted for some time longer in his old ways of life. He succeeded to the Burgundian throne in 516. In remorse for having ordered his own son strangled to death in a fit of anger (522), Sigismund became the effective founder of the monastery of saint-maurice in the present-day Valais canton of Switzerland. He sent for monks from lÉrins, Gigny, Ile-Barbe, and saint-claude, endowed the community liberally, and initiated there the laus perennis, i.e., the continuous chanting of the Divine Office. About 523 Sigismund was defeated at the Battle of Agaune by the three kings of France, all sons of clovis, who were intent on gaining the Kingdom of Burgundy and on revenging their maternal grandfather, King Chilperic, who had been put to death by Sigismund's father. Sigismund escaped to the vicinity of Saint-Maurice, where he became a hermit, but he was soon captured by King Clodomir and, despite avitus's remonstrances, was drowned in a well. Tradition ascribes miracles to Sigismund; his cult spread in southern France and among the West Franks. His body was taken to Saint-Maurice; in 676 his skull was taken to St. Sigismund's in Alsace (today in Matzenheim). Since 1354 part of his relics have been preserved in the cathedral at Prague, while others were taken to the Diocese of Freising in Germany and to the cathedral in Płock, Poland.
Feast: May 1.
Bibliography: Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum (Berlin 1826–) 2:333–340; 7.2:775–776. c. j. von hefele, Histoire des conciles d'après les documents originaux, tr. and continued by h. leclerq, 10 v. in 19 (Paris 1907–38) 2.2:1017–22, 1031–42. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 2:209–210. r. folz, "Zur Frage der heiligen Könige: Heiligkeit und Nachleven in der Geschichte des burgundischen Königtums," Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelaltars 14 (Cologne-Graz 1958) 317–344. j. m. theurillat, L'Abbaye de St-Maurice d'Agaune, des origines à la réforme canoniale, 515–830 (Sion Switz, 1954); Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65); suppl., Das Zweite Vatikanishe Konsil: Dokumente und Kommentare, ed. h. s. brechter et al.(1966) 9:748–749.
[b. b. szczesniak]