Gal I (Bishop of Clermont)
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|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church,
Eastern Orthodox Church
|Feast||3 July (RC), 1 July (O)|
Saint Gal of Clermont (also Gall) (c. 489 – c. 553) was the sixteenth Bishop of Clermont, holding that see from 527 to 551. This bishop of Clermont shares a name with a later bishop of the diocese, who, though less illustrious than the first Gal, is also revered as a saint. Gal played important role in the politics of the Church, as the Council of Clermont (535) was hosted under his episcopate. He was the uncle and teacher of Gregory of Tours.
Gal was the scion of a senatorial family, born in Clermont, Auvergne circa 489. His mother was descended from the family of Vettius Apagatus, a revered martyr from Lyon. While his parents proposed to have him married to a daughter of a respectable senator, Gal had other plans, and privately withdrew to a monastery at Cournon. Once he received the consent of his parents, he joyfully embraced a life of religious poverty. Gal's intelligence and piety caused his recommendation as councilor to Quintianus, the bishop of Clermont, who ordained him a priest.
Theuderic I, the king of Austrasia, invaded Auvergne and took Gal prisoner. He was afterwards attached to the oratory in the palace of the king. Gal regained liberty after a few years, and returned to Clermont.
When Quintianus died in 527, Gal was chosen as the successor to the Bishopric of Clermont. It was during this time that Gal's extraordinary equanimity was most tested: one story reports that the bishop was "struck on the head by a brutal man, [yet] he discovered not the least emotion of anger or resentment, and by this meekness disarmed the savage of his rage." A similar anecdote involves a man named Evodius, a priest who had once been a senator. Although the proud man acted insultingly to Gal, the bishop's reaction was simply to arise from his seat and make a visit to the churches of the city. Touched by Gal's patience, Evodius cast himself at the feet of the bishop in the middle of the street.
Gal played a major political and religious role as Bishop of Clermont. He became known as a defender of the rights of the Church against Sivigald, the governor appointed by Theuderic. The chief event of his episcopate was the Council of Clermont in 535. He also took part in the Fourth (541) and Fifth (549) Councils of Orléans.
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- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "St. Gal". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Butler, Alban (1894). "St. Gal, Bishop". Lives of the Saints. sacred-texts.com [Benziger Brothers]. Retrieved 2007-11-09.