Ansbert of Rouen

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Saint Ansbert of Rouen
Baie 5 cathédrale Rouen Ansbert.JPG
Portrait of Ansbert in stained glass at Rouen Cathedral
Born Chaussy-sur-Epte
Died c. 695
Hautmont
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Feast 9 February

Saint Ansbert, called Ansbert of Rouen or sometimes Ansbert of Chaussy (? – c. 695), is a saint from northern France. In the 7th century, he served the Christian Church as a monk and an abbot, and ultimately as the archbishop of the city of Rouen.

Early life[edit]

Ansbert was born at Chaussy-sur-Epte, a village in the Norman historical area known as the Vexin.[1] He was born to a noble family, and was highly educated.[2] He had a significant professional career, and is said to have served as a senior member of the court of the Merovingian king, Clotaire III.[2][3] As such, he was both Lord Chancellor of France and Référendaire of France.

Ansbert was engaged to be married to another future saint, Angadrisma.[3][4] Her father, said to have been another of Clotaire's chancellors,[4] arranged for her to wed his colleague, but Angadrisma – later a patroness of nuns – prayed for release from this obligation. Tradition states that dispensation was given to her after she was "struck down with leprosy",[5] a disfiguring malady which only disappeared when she joined a convent.[4][5] Some sources state that Ansbert later took a different bride.[5][6]

Religious vocation[edit]

In 673, the same year Clotaire died, Ansbert renounced his secular pursuits and became a monk of the Benedictine order. Six years later, he was elevated to abbot of his monastery, the illustrious Fontenelle Abbey. He followed two other saints in that office: Wandrille, the abbey's founder and first abbot, and Lambert, the second abbot, who vacated the office when he was named bishop of Lyons.[2][3][7][8] Under his leadership, Fontenelle prospered. His enterprises included a great expansion and refinement of the abbey's library,[3] and the establishment of local hospitals for the poor.[2][9]

During his time as abbot, Ansbert served as the confessor to King Theodoric III.[3] After several years, Ansbert was appointed archbishop of Rouen following the death of the previous officeholder, Saint Ouen, in 683 or 684.[2][3] His former mentor Saint Lambert performed his consecration,[2] and Ansbert was succeeded as abbot at Fontenelle by Hildebert (d. 701), who is also venerated as a saint.[10]

Despite his high office and eminent reputation, Ansbert was removed from the bishopric around the year 690.[11] By "a false accusation",[3] the powerful majordomo of the Frankish court, Pepin of Heristal, arranged his dismissal, either because of some kind of political opposition[11] or because Ansbert's "zeal was not well-received" and "his austere life caused offence".[2] He was sent into exile at the monastery of Hautmont where he stayed until his death, sometime between 692 and 695.[2][11] At some time Pepin apparently reconsidered his actions and agreed to allow Ansbert to return, but either he changed his mind again[11] or Ansbert died before making the trip.[2]

Legacy[edit]

The 12th-century chronicler Ordericus Vitalis relays a tale in which it was said that Ansbert's remains were desecrated and dispersed by soldiers of Hugh the Great. He asserts that the bones in question belonged to a different Ansbert, and that those of the saint were, at the time of his writing, still preserved safely at Fontenelle Abbey.[12] The 18th-century author Alban Butler, however, states that the remains were at some point transferred to St. Peter's Abbey in Ghent, where they were destroyed by Calvinists in 1578.[3]

A collective day of remembrance for all the many saints associated with Fontenelle Abbey is celebrated on 1 March.[13] Saint Ansbert's own annual feast day is 9 February.[6][10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rupin, Ernest (1897). L'abbaye et les cloîtres de Moissac (in French). Paris: A. Picard. p. 27. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Walsh, Michael J. (2007). A New Dictionary of Saints: East and West. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. p. 48. ISBN 9780814631867. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Butler, Alban (1995) [1756]. Butler's Lives of the Saints. 2. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. pp. 90–91. ISBN 9780860122609. 
  4. ^ a b c Baudoin, Jacques (2006). Grand livre des saints: culte et iconographie en Occident (in French). Nonette, FR: Editions CRÉER. p. 90. ISBN 9782848190419. 
  5. ^ a b c Butler, Alban (1995) [1756]. Butler's Lives of the Saints. 10. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. pp. 92–93. ISBN 9780860122593. 
  6. ^ a b Rabenstein, Katherine I. (2008). "Saint of the Day: February 9". Saintpatrickdc.org. St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Washington, D.C. Retrieved 25 May 2016. 
  7. ^ "Saint Ansbert". Catholic.org. Catholic Online. 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  8. ^ "Saint Ansbert of Rouen". CatholicSaints.info. 7 February 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2016. 
  9. ^ "Chronologie". St-Wandrille.com (in French). Communauté des bénédictins de Saint-Wandrille de Fontenelle. 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2016. 
  10. ^ a b "Saints de Fontenelle". St-Wandrille.com (in French). Communauté des bénédictins de Saint-Wandrille de Fontenelle. 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c d Davies, Wendy; Fouracre, Paul (1992). The Settlement of Disputes in Early Medieval Europe. Cambridge University Press. p. 31. ISBN 9780521428958. 
  12. ^ Vitalis, Ordericus (1854). Forester, Thomas, ed. The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy. 2. London: Henry G. Bohn. p. 308. OCLC 1347543. 
  13. ^ "Grands Personnages". St-Wandrille.com (in French). Communauté des bénédictins de Saint-Wandrille de Fontenelle. 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2016. 

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