Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Achard de Saint-Victor

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Canon regular, Abbot of St-Victor, Paris, and Bishop of Avranches, b. about 1100; d. 1172. By some authorities he is said to have been of English extraction, by others to be of the noble Norman family of de Pertins, of Domfront. He completed his studies at the school of St-Victor's and entered the cloister there. On the death (1155) of the first abbot, Gilduin, he was elected to fill the vacant post, at a time when the royal abbey was almost at the zenith of its glory and power. Two years later the Cathedral Chapter of Seez, composed of canons regular, elected Achard for their bishop, and the choice was duly confirmed by Adrian IV. But Henry II intervened and intruded his chaplain Frogier, or Roger. However, subsequent relations between Achard and the Plantagenet were quite cordial, and the abbot used his influence at the English Court to compel the royal treasurer, Richard of Ely, to disemburse for the benefit of the poor some moneys which he was unjustly detaining; his letter to Henry II on the matter is still extant. When, in 1162, Achard was raised to the vacant See of Avranches, henry made no objection to his consecration, and that same year Bishop Achard stood godfather to his daughter Elinor born at Domfront. But the French king, Louis VII, was by no means pleased to see such a shining light of the Parisian Church pass over into Norman territory, as is evident from a letter he then addressed to the prior of St-Victor's. In 1163 Achard was in England assisting at the solemn translation of Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey.

The chief monument of his ten years' episcopate was the Premonstratensian Abbey of the Holy Trinity, Lucerne, the foundation stone of which he laid 91164) and where at his own request he was buried, with this simple inscription: "Hic jacet Achardus episcopus cujus caritate ditata est paupertas nostra." His brethren of St-Victor's celebrated his memory in the following lines: "Huju oliva domus, Anglorum gloria cleri-Jam dignus celesti luce foveri-Felix Achardus florens etate senile-Presul Abrincensis ex hoc signature ovili". Not the least gem in Achard's crown is the memory of his unwavering friendship for St. Thomas a Becket through all the years of his persecution. In the chronicles of St-Victor's Achard is termed "Blessed". One treatise (Latin original and eighteenth-century French translation) of Achard's is extant in the Bibliotheque Nationale. Paris. It is a long commentary or sermon on the Temptation of Christ in the wilderness, and in it Achard discusses seven degrees of self-renunciation, which he calls the seven deserts of the soul. Haureau in his "Histoire literaire du maine", I, quotes several passages and terms the tract vrai morceau de style.

BUTLER, Lives of the Saints, 2 May; STANTON, Menology (London and New York, 1892); BONNARD, Histoire de l'Abbaye Royale de St. Victor de Paris (Paris, 1907); PENNOTTO, Hist. Cleric. Canon. (Rome, 1642).

Vincent Scully.