Genebald

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Saint Genebald
Saintbishop.jpg
Saint Remigius. Painting by Master of Saint Giles. It has been theorized that the 4 figures in the right foreground are Genebald, his wife, and the two children born while he was bishop of Laon.[1]
Bishop
Died 550 AD
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church
Feast September 5

Saint Genebald (Genebaldus, Genebandus) (French: Génebaud, Génebaut, Guénebauld) (died 550 AD) was a Frankish bishop of Laon. He was a contemporary of Saint Remigius, bishop of Rheims,[2] and according to The Golden Legend, was married to Remigius' niece.[3]

Legend[edit]

Because the diocese of Rheims was too large, Remigius had decided to create a separate diocese centered at Laon, and chose Genebald to be Laon’s first bishop.[3] A married clerk, Genebald left his wife to become bishop around 499 AD. However, according to Canon Flodoard’s 10th-century account, Flodoardi Historiae Remensis Ecclesiae, and repeated by The Golden Legend,[4] Genebald, after he became bishop, slept with his wife, who became pregnant with a boy.

Genebald asked that his son be named Latro (“Thief”),[5] “because he had engendered it by theft.”[3] So that it would not appear that his wife had borne a child out of wedlock, Genebald had her visit him again. Again they slept together, and this time his wife became pregnant with a girl, whom they named Vulpecula (“she-fox”).[6]

Confessing his sins to Remigius, Genebald offered to leave his diocese. However, Remigius comforted Genebald and received his confession, and gave Genebald penance. Remigius had him shut in a small cell near the church of St. Julian[2] for seven years. Remigius fed Genebald on only bread and water during this time, and took over Genebald’s duties as bishop of Laon.[3]

According to The Golden Legend, an angel came to Genebald after the end of the seven-year term and gave Genebald permission to leave the cell. Genebald could not open the door as it had been sealed from the outside; however, according to the Legend, the angel opened the door after declaring: “Know thou that the door of heaven is opened to thee; I shall open this door without breaking of the seal which Saint Remigius hath sealed.”[3] However, Genebald still wanted Remigius’ permission to leave the cell. The angel brought Remigius to him, and the bishop of Rheims reinstated Genebald as bishop of Laon.[3]

According to Christian Cochini, “this legendary narrative probably has a kernel of truth.”[4]

Reinstated as bishop, Genebald is said to have remained chaste for the rest of his life.[3] After his death, his son Latro succeeded him as bishop of Laon. Latro was also venerated as a saint.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ John Oliver Hand, Martha Wolff, Early Netherlandish painting (National Gallery of Art (U.S.) (Cambridge University Press, 1986), 166.
  2. ^ a b "St. Genebaldus". Heiligen Lexicon. Retrieved May 12, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h The Golden Legend: The Life of Saint Remigius
  4. ^ a b Christian Cochini, Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy (Ignatius Press, 1990), 111.
  5. ^ In French, Latron or Larron.
  6. ^ In French, Volpille.