Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Abbey of Saint Vaast

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From volume 15 of the work.

Situated at Arras, the ancient capital of Artois, Department of Pas-de-Calais, France; founded in 667. St. Vaast, or Vedast, was born in western France about 453; and died at Arras in 540. Having lived for some years as a recluse in the Diocese of Toul, he was ordained priest by St. Remi (Remigius), Archbishop of Reims, who deputed him to prepare Clovis for the reception of the Sacrament of Baptism. After this he remained at Reims and acted as archdeacon for St. Remi. In 499 that prelate consecrated him first Bishop of Arras, and his labours in planting the faith in those parts were blessed by many miracles. Ten years later St. Remi committed to him the care also of the Diocese of Cambrai, and these two sees remained united until the eleventh century. At the death of St. Remi he was chosen to succeed him but declined the honour. His own death occurred in 540 and he was buried in his cathedral at Arras. In 667 St. Auburt, the seventh bishop of that see, commenced to build an abbey for Benedictine monks on the site of a little chapel which St. Vedast had erected in honour of St. Peter. St. Vedast's relics were transferred to the new abbey, which was completed by St. Auburt's successor and munificiently endowed by King Theodoric, who together with his wife was afterwards buried there. This Abbey of St-Vaast flourished for many centuries and held an important position amongst the monasteries of the Low Countries. It was ruled by many distinguished abbots, a list of whom, numbering seventy-nine, is given in "Gallia christiana". It was exempt from episcopal jurisdiction and maintained its independence until 1778 when it was aggregated to the Congregation of Cluny. At the Revolution it was suppressed and the conventual buildings became first a hospital and then a barrack. In 1838 the barrack was purchased by the down, a portion being used as a museum and archivium, and the rest becoming the residence of the bishop. The church, which had been desecrated and partially destroyed, was rebuilt and consecrated in 1833 and now serves as the cathedral.