June 6 – St. Claudius

June 5, 2017

The Life of St. Claudius, Abbot of Condat, has been the subject of much controversy. Dom Benott says that he lived in the seventh century; that he had been Bishop of Besançon before being abbot, that he was fifty-five years an abbot, and died in 694. He left Condat in a very flourishing state to his successors, among whom were a certain number of saints: St. Rusticus, St. Aufredus, St. Hipplytus (d. after 776), St Vulfredus, St. Bertrand, St. Ribert, all belonging to the eighth century. Carloman, uncle of Charlemagne, went to Condat to become a religious; St Martin, a monk of Condat was martyred by the Saracens probably in the time of Charlemagne. this Emperor was a benefactor of the Abbey of Condat; but the two diplomas of Charlemagne, formerly in possession of the monks of Saint-Claude, and now preserved in the Jura archives, dealing with the temporal interests of the abbey, have been found by M. Poupardin to be forgeries, fabricated without doubt in the eleventh century. A monk of Condat, Venerable Manon, after having enriched the abbey library with precious manuscripts was, about 874, appointed by Charles the Bald, head of the Palace school where he had among his pupils, St. Radbod, Bishop of Utrecht. Two abbots of Condat, St. Remy (d. 875) and St. Aurelian (d. 895), filled the archiepiscopal See of Lyons. In the eleventh century the renown of Abbey of Condat was increased by St. Stephen of Beze (d. 1116) by St. Simon of Crepy (b. about 1048), a descendant of Charlemagne; this saint was brought up by Mathilda, wife of William the Conqueror, was made Count of Valois and Vexin, fought against Philip I, King of France, and then became a monk of Condat. He afterwards founded the monastery of Monthe, went to the court of William the Conqueror to bring about reconciliation with his son, Robert, and died in 1080.

The body of St. Claudius, which had been concealed at the time of the Saracen invasions, was discovered in 1160, visited in 1172 by St. Peter of Tarentaise, and solemnly carried all through Burgundy before being brought back to Condat. The abbey and the town, theretofore known as Oyent, were thenceforeward called by the name of Saint-Claude. Among those who made a pilgrimage to Saint-Claude were Philip the bold, Duke of burgundy, in 1369, 1376, and 1382, Philip the Good in 1422, 1442, and 1443, Charles the Rash in 1461, Louis XI in 1456 and 1482, blessed Amadeus IX, Duke of Savoy, in 1471. In 1500 Anne of Brittany, wife of Louis XII, went there in thanksgiving for the birth of her daughter Claudia. The territory of Saint-Claude forme a veritable state; it was a member of the Holy Empire, but it was not a fief, and was independent of the Countship of Burgundy. In 1291, Rudolph of Hapsburg named the dauphin, Humbert de Viennois, his vicar, and entrusted him with the defense of the monastery of Saint-Claude. In the course of time, the Abbey of Saint-Claude became a kind of Chapter, to enter which it was necessary to give proof of four degrees of nobility The system of “commendam” proved injurious to the religious life of the abbey. Among the commendatory abbots of Saint-Claude were Pierre de la Baume (1510-44) during whose administration Geneva fell away from the faith; Don Juan of Austria, natural son of Philip IV (1645-79), and Cardinal d’Estrées (1681-1714). The Abbey of Saint-Claude and the lands depending on it became French territory in 1674, on the conquest of La Franche-Comté. At that the inhabitants of La Franche-Comté took him as their second regional patron, and associated him everywhere with St. Andrew, the first patron of the Burgundians. Benedict XIII prepared and Benedict XIV published a Bull on 22 January, 1742, decreeing the secularization of the abbey and the erection of the episcopal See of Saint-Claude. The bishop, who bore the title of count, inherited all the seignorial rights of the abbot. Moreover the bishop and the canons continued to hold the dependents of the old abbey as subject to the mortmain, which meant that these men were incapable of disposing of their property. The lawyer, Christian, in 1770, waged a very vigorous campaign in favour of six communes that protested against the mortmain, and disputed the claims of the canons of Saint-Claude to the property rights of their lands. Voltaire intervened to help the communes. The Parliament of Besançon, in 1775, confirmed the rights of the Chapter; but the agitation excited by the philosophers apropos of those subject to the mortmain of Saint-Claude, was one of the signs of the approaching French Revolution. In March, 1794, the body of St. Claudius was burnt by order of the revolutionary authorities.

(Catholic Encyclopedia)


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