Auspicius of Toul
Saint Auspicius of Toul (Latin: Auspicius Tullensis; French: Auspice de Toul; d.c.490?) was a 5th-century bishop of Toul, the fifth of those recorded, and a locally venerated saint of the Roman Catholic church. He was also a poet, known for iambic verse based on stress (rather than quantity, as in the classical Latin prosody); this was an innovation of his time. A verse letter of his from around 470 to Arbogast, count of Trier, survives.
Bishop Auspicius was part of the Gallo-Roman aristocracy, also counting the Roman general of Frankish descent, Arbogast, famous under Theodosius the Great, among his ancestors. He succeeded Gelsimus as bishop of Toul around 478 (?). After more than 500 years in the Roman Empire, the city of Toul (capital of the Leuci) had fallen under the power of Francia, and Auspicius was thus the first of the bishops of Toul to serve under the Franks.
His rare talents and virtues gained him the esteem of distinguished person of his time. He was a friend of the poet Sidonius Apollinaris, bishop of Clermont, and of Count Arbogast, the governor of Trier for Childeric I, and the three exchanged correspondence. Arbogast wrote to Sidonius asking him to instruct him in his duties and to give some explanation of the sacred books but Sidonius apologized and referred him to Saint Loup, Bishop of Troyes, or to Auspicius, bishop of Toul, both distinguished by their deep knowledge and high rank. The Count approached Auspicius, who sent him a highly complimentary reply in verse.
As a poet, he was the first Westerner to adopt the iambic rhythm derived from the Saturnian metre, the preferred metre of Roman folk and secular poetry.
The breviary of the diocese of Toul has always given him the title of Saint Auspicius. He was buried in the burial ground of St. Mansuy, where his body was found in 1070 under the episcopate of Pibon.
Sidonius died in 488, and it is likely that Auspicius died a few years later (perhaps about 490). His successor was the bishop Saint Ours.
- A.D. Thiéry, Histoire de la ville de Toul et de ses évêques, suivie d'une notice de la cathédrale, vol. 1, Paris, Roret, 1841, p. 37.
- Wilhelm Brandes, Des Auspicius von Toul Rhythmische Epistel an Arbogast von Trier, Wolfenbüttel, 1905
- CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Hymnody and Hymnology
- Penny MacGeorge, Late Roman Warlords (2002), p. 75
- Epistola Ad Arbogastem Comitem Trevirorum (Patrología latina, Migne, volume 61)
- Lettre de St Auspice in Duchêne, Recueil des Historiens de France, vol 1, p.824
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