Virgilius of Arles, St.

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Early archbishop of Arles; b. Gascony, mid-sixth century; d. ca. 610. He was educated in the monastery of lÉrins, and was called to be abbot of Saint-Symphorien by Syagrius, bishop of Autun. During the pontificate of Gregory I (590604). Virgilius received the pallium as archbishop of arles and was later appointed apostolic vicar to the court of Childeric II, a position of great influence in the Frankish Church. Venerable bede mentions that augustine of canterbury resided with Virgilius for a short time and probably was consecrated by him. Virgilius was extraordinary in some of the measures he espoused in governing his see in Arles; e.g., he was reprimanded by gregory i for his excessive zeal in advocating the forcible conversion of Jews to Christianity. Virgilius is the subject of numerous legends and fables concerning his supposed encounters with devils and fiends. His vita states that he lived a life of personal austerity, which included the wearing of a hair shirt. A sizable correspondence between Gregory I and Virgilius on matters ranging from questions of simony to the protection of monasteries belonging to the Holy See has been preserved. The churches of St. Honoratus and St. Saviour, and the basilica of St. Stephen in Arles owe their existence to him.

Feast: March 5.

Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum March 2:397402. gregory i, Epistolae, Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v., indexes 4v. (Paris 187890) 77:510511, 782785, 102833, 104245. Gallia Christiana, v. 113 (Paris 171585), v. 1416 (Paris 185665) 1:540541. l. duchesne, Fastes épiscopaux de l'ancienne Gaule, 3 v. (2d ed. Paris 190715) 1:252.

[b. f. scherer]