Sulpitius the Pious
|Sulpitius (Sulpicius) the Pious|
Reliquary bust of Saint Sulpitius the Pious. Church of Saint-Sulpice-de-Favières.
|Died||17 January 646|
|Roman Catholic Church|
Sulpitius (Sulpicius) the Pious or "the Débonnaire" was a 7th-century bishop of Bourges.
According to his Vita, Sulpitius was born at Vatan (Diocese of Bourges), of noble parents, before the end of the sixth century. From his youth he devoted himself to good works and the study of Scripture.
Austregisilus, Bishop of Bourges, ordained him cleric of his church, then deacon, and finally made him director of his episcopal school. Clotaire II, King of the Franks, who had heard his merits spoken of, summoned him and made him chaplain of his armies. But at the death of Bishop Austregisilus (c. 624) he was recalled to Bourges to take his place. Sulpitius thenceforth labored with much zeal and success to re-establish ecclesiastical discipline, for the relief of the poor and the conversion of the Jews.
In 626 Sulpitius assisted at the Council of Clichy and held several others with the bishops of his province. St. Desiderius of Cahors, treasurer to King Clothar II and later Bishop of Cahors, was his personal friend; there are extant three letters which he addressed to him. In the settings of Vita Sulpicii Episcopi Biturgi, Sulpicius' miracles show him receiving "Theudogisilus", a noble from the palatium of the king with entertainments and a "great heaped fire" (in a fireplace in the centre of the great hall, the smoke issuing through a vent in the roof). Sulpitius is said to have extinguished this fire, when it threatened to get out of control, with an outstretched hand. The vita asserts with approval that "he, the holy man gave leave for no-one, neither heretic, gentile or Jew, to live in the city of Bourges without the grace of baptism" with many consequent conversions from the Jews of Bourges.
The Vita tells that Dagobert I sent his representative the merciless general Lollo (Lollonius) to reside at Bourges and bring the city more closely under the king's command. He intervened with King Dagobert in behalf of his flock, of whom a too heavy tax was exacted. When the people came complaining of their treatment to Sulpicius, he decreed a three-day fast for clergy and laity, but also sent one of his clergy, Ebargisilus by name to the king.
Towards the end of his life Sulpitius took a coadjutor, Vulfolnde, and retired to a monastery which he had founded near Bourges. There he died on 17 January 646, which day several manuscripts of the Hieronymian Martyrology indicate as his feast. The reports of miracles at his tomb in the basilica he had ordered built began soon after his death and the place became a place of pilgrimage.
That place, the basilica, where the memorable man of God is buried, is called Navis, because the port of ships is seen to be there. It is a most lovely place between two rivers with pastures and woods and vineyards in great number, with fields and rivers flowing between huge plains so that there, the inhabitants may be seen to possess the image of paradise.
- Dégert, Antoine. "Sulpitius." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 18 Jun. 2013
- Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Desiderius of Cahors." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 18 Jun. 2013
- Edited in B. Krusch, Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores Rerum Merovingicarum vol. IV pp. 364-380; an earlier version was included by Krusch on vol. VI (1902). An English translation by Sarah Brush is on-line.
- "that the people of Bourges should at once be placed under law and under him and should live and serve the king’s command." (Sarah Brush, tr.).
- "he asked the king for a partner to support this burden." (Vita, Sarah Brush, tr.).
- Vita Sarah Brush, tr.
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