Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/St. Géry
Bishop of Cambrai-Arras; b. of Roman parents, Gaudentius and Austadiola, at Eposium (Yvois, Carignan), France, about the middle of the sixth century; d. 11 August, between 623 and 626. The Diocese of Cambrai-Arras is of recent date compared with the more ancient see of Belgium, Tongres, which dates from the fourth century. The territory, which comprised the Diocese of Cambrai-Arras, like that of Tournai and Térouanne, probably contained Christians before the date of the appearance of its first known bishop, St. Vaast, but their spiritual head must have resided at Reims. The great barbarian invasion of 406 completely overthrew the ecclesiastical organization, but from the beginning of the Merovingian period the Church began to recover, the Diocese of Arras especially being restored by St. Vaast about the beginning of the sixth century. Géry was one of his earliest successors. From his youth Géry led a pious and devout life, and already all things combined to prepare him for the career of zeal and devotion which he was to embrace later on. During one of his episcopal visitations, St. Magneric, Bishop of Trier, was struck by the exemplary conduct of the young man and conceived the project of enrolling him in the ranks of his clerics. Géry was not ordained deacon, say his hiographers, until he knew the whole Psalter by heart. The episcopal see of Cambrai-Arras soon became vacant, and Géry was called to fill it. King Childebert II gave his consent and instructed Ægidius Metropolitan of Reims, to consecrate the new bishop. This installation must have taken place between 585 and 587. Filled with apostolic zeal, Géry devoted his life to the extermination of the paganism which infected the district subject to his authority, and, since the worship of the old gods was deeply rooted in the souls of the barbarous peoples, the bishop destroyed or purchased the idols, which were the objects of their veneration. He erected the church of St-Médard in the chief town of Cambrai. He frequently visited the rural districts and the villae at a distance from his episcopal city, displaying particular solicitude for the ransom of captives.
But political events soon introduced a new dominion, when Clotaire II (d. 629) took possession of Cambrai. The bishop went to pay his respects to the conqueror in his villa of Chelles, probably in 613. At the command of the king he was compelled to go to the sanctuary and national place of pilgrimage of the Franks, St. Martin of Tours, there to distribute alms to the poor. In October, 614, Géry assisted at the Council of Paris. He died after an episcopate of thirty-nine years, and was buried in the church of St-Médard at Cambrai. Géry was honoured with a cult immediately after his death. In the time of his successor Bertoald his tomb was already the object of fervent veneration, and the monastery of St-Médard which he had founded profited largely by the offerings made to him. Mention of his feast is already made in the additions to the Hieronymic martyrology, and in the ninth certury in the martyologies of Wandalbert of Prum and of Ramanus Maurus. This feast is celebrated on 11 August. The institution of the feast of his exhumation, 18 November, and of his translation, 24 September dates probably from 1245, as his relics were exhumed in that year by Bishop Guido of Cambrai. Relics of the saint are preserved at Ste-Marie de Liessies, at the Church of St-Géry at Brussels, at the church of the same name at Arras, at St-Donatien at Bruges, at St. Pierre at Douai, and in other churches of Belgium. St-Géry is the patron of Cambrai, subsidiary patron of Brussels, and he is honoured as a protector at Braine-le-Comte (Hainaut, Belgiurn). On the reliquary in the form of an ostensorium at the Cathedral of Cambrai, which contains the skull of St. Géry, he is represented in the attire of a bishop, mitre on head, without his crosier, right hand lifted in a gesture of benediction and left folded upon his breast.
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