Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Remigius, St., archbp. of Rheims
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Remigius, St., archbp. of Rheims
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Remigius (2) (Remi), St., archbp. of Rheims and called the Apostle of the Franks (c. 457–530), holds an important position in Western history and is honoured as one of the 3 great patron-saints of France. His exact part in winning Clovis and his Franks to orthodox Christianity, and so probably deciding the belief of Western Europe, is not easy to define, since Gregory's account, written considerably later than the events, is plainly not to be trusted for details, and an earlier Life which apparently existed (see Greg. Tur. Hist. Franc. ii. 31) was lost before the 9th cent. Some think that Clovis was convinced by the exhortations of Remigius or Clotilda, or both, some that he saw his advantage in the partizanship of the orthodox clergy in his struggle with the Arian Burgundians and Visigoths. [CLOVIS.] At any rate, it was a happy event for orthodoxy that a man with force of character to impress a barbarian like
Clovis was stationed in the pathway of his conquests. Few details are known of Remigius's life. He was born c. 435, and consecrated in his 22nd year (c. 457). We first hear of his intercourse with Clovis in the campaign against Syagrius (c. 486). About 492 the king married the Catholic Clotilda, who proved a powerful ally for the bishop. The story of his baptism on Christmas Eve, 496, with his sisters Albofledis and the Arian Lanthechildis and more than 3,000 Franks, is well known. "Mitis depone colla, Sicamber, adora quod incendisti, incende quod adorasti," are the words put by Gregory into Remigius's mouth (ib. 27). His episcopate is said to have lasted 70 or more years, his death occurring c. 530. His literary remains are 4 letters (one, to 3 bishops, presents a curious picture of contemporary manners), a spurious will, and a few verses ascribed to him (Patr. Lat. lxv. 961–976; cf. Hist. litt. de la France, iii. 158 sqq.).
The references in Gregory of Tours (Hist. Franc. ii. 27, 31, viii. 21, ix. 14, x. 19; Hist. Epit. xvi.; de Glor. Conf. lxxix.), Sidonius Apollinaris (Ep. ix. 7), and Avitus (Collat. Episc. sub init.; Patr. Lat. lix. 387), comprise all that is historical about him. History and myth are mingled in the exhaustive notice of the Bollandists (Oct. 1, 59–187).