Elzéar of Sabran
Saint Elzéar of Sabran, T.O.S.F., Baron of Ansouis, Count of Ariano, was born in the castle of Saint-Jean-de-Robians, near Cabrières-d'Aigues in Provence, southern France, in 1285. He died in Paris, France, on September 27, 1323. He was a tertiary of the Franciscan Order as well as a ruler, diplomat and military leader.
In his youth, Elzéar was given a thorough training in the Christian faith as well as in the sciences under the supervision of his uncle, William of Sabran, at the Abbey of St. Victor in Marseille, where his uncle ruled as the Abbot. When he had reached the appropriate age, he acceded to the wish of King Charles II of Naples and married Delphine of Glandèves (1284–1358). Upon their wedding night, Delphine advised her new husband that she had taken a private vow of celibacy. Even though he had the right in canon law to make her abandon this commitment, Elzéar chose to respect her desire to live in virginity and even copied her example in making the same vow. Together they joined the Third Order of Saint Francis.
Elzéar and Delphine lived a married life in which they vied with one another in the practice of prayer, mortification of the flesh and in charity towards the unfortunate. At the age of twenty he moved with his wife from Ansouis to Puimichel for greater solitude, and formulated for his servants rules of conduct that made his household a model of Christian virtue.
Upon the death of his father in 1309, he went to his new domains in Italy. There he gained by kindness the trust and support of his subjects, who had despised their Norman conquerors. In 1312 he marched to Rome at the head of the army of King Robert of Naples, which was mobilized to aid in expelling the Emperor Henry VII from that city. Returning to Provence after the war, he again set up a household in which piety and faithful practice of the Catholic faith were expected of all the members of his house.
In 1317 Elzéar went to Naples to become the tutor of Duke Charles, son of King Robert, and later became Charles' castellan, when Charles became Vicar General of the Kingdom of Sicily. He was sent as ambassador to the King of France in 1323 to obtain the hand of Marie of Valois in marriage for Charles, edifying a worldly court by his heroic virtues. While serving in that post he died, shortly after accomplishing his mission.
His body was returned to his domain, and he was buried in the Franciscan habit in the church of the Friars Minor at Apt, Vaucluse. The decree of his canonization was signed by his godson, Pope Urban V, and was carried out by his successor, Pope Gregory XI about 1371. Countess Delfine was also beatified by Pope Urban at that time. Their liturgical feast day, which they share, is celebrated by the Franciscan Third Order on 26 September.