October 1: Remigius, Bishop of Rheims, c. 530

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The baptism of Clovis by the Anonymous Master of Giles, the National Gallery, Washington, D.C.

About this commemoration

Remigius, also known as Remi, one of the patron saints of France, was born about 438, the son of the Count of Laon. At the age of twenty-two he became Bishop of Rheims.

Noted for his learning and holiness of life, Remigius is chiefly remembered because he converted and baptized King Clovis of the Franks on Christmas Day, 496. This event changed the religious history of Europe. Clovis, by becoming Catholic instead of Arian, as were most of the Germanic people of the time, was able to unite the Gallo-Roman population and their Christian leaders behind his expanding hegemony over the Germanic rulers of the West and to liberate Gaul from Roman domination. His conversion also made possible the cooperation the Franks gave later to Pope Gregory the Great in his evangelistic efforts for the English. Certainly, Clovis’ motives in accepting Catholic Christianity were mixed, but there is no doubt of the sincerity of his decision, nor of the important role of Remigius in bringing it to pass. When Clovis was baptized, together with 3,000 of his followers, Remi gave him the well-known charge, “Worship what you have burned, and burn what you have worshiped.”

The feast of Remigius is observed at Rheims on January 13, possibly the date of his death. The later date of October 1 is derived from the translation of his relics to a new abbey church by Pope Leo IX in 1049.

Collects

I  O God, who by the teaching of thy faithful servant and bishop Remigius didst turn the nation of the Franks from vain idolatry to the worship of thee, the true and living God, in the fullness of the catholic faith: Grant that we who glory in the name of Christian may show forth our faith in worthy deeds; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

II   O God, by the teaching of your faithful servant and bishop Remigius you turned the nation of the Franks from vain idolatry to the worship of you, the true and living God, in the fullness of the catholic faith: Grant that we who glory in the name of Christian may show forth our faith in worthy deeds; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Psalm 135:13-21

Lessons Jeremiah 10:1–11, 1 John 4:1–6, and John 14:3–7

Preface of a Saint (1)

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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6 Responses to October 1: Remigius, Bishop of Rheims, c. 530

  1. Michael Hartney says:

    New Hebrew Scripture reading: This seems to fit the commemoration well and this one is a good length, too.
    IMHO.

  2. Jeffrey Shy says:

    I like the biography, but I am not sure about the collect, particularly the contemporary one. I think that the phrase “from vain idolatry” is an unnecessary archaism in the contemporary collect and not necessarily true. How about deleting the phrase “from vain idolatry” and going just with just “…you turned the nation of the Franks to the worship of you…” or “you converted the nation of the Franks to the worship of you…”
    The “vain idolatry” could be continued in the traditional collect as consistent with language of the day.

    BTW, excellent job on the HWHM as a whole.

  3. John LaVoe says:

    October 1: Remigius, Bishop of Rheims, c. 530
    .
    This commemoration was good. (I use the bio and collect at Noonday Prayer without the readings or the preface.) Remegius/Remi is mentioned five times over the 18 line write-up here. Clovis is named four times and discussed for 13 of the 18 lines. I’m surprised this is not called the feast of Remi and Clovis.
    .
    (“Clovis, by becoming Catholic instead of Arian, AS WERE most of the Germanic people of the time,…”) What does “as were” refer to? I find it ambiguous.
    A) most of the Germanic people of the time were Catholic?
    B) most of the Germanic people of the time were Arian?
    C) most of the Germanic people of the time were becoming Catholic?
    D) most of the Germanic people of the time were becoming Arian?
    I’d like to see A, B, C, or D (whichever is meant) as an independent sentence, then
    “Clovis, by becoming Catholic instead of Arian, was able to unite the Gallo-Roman population and their Christian leaders behind his expanding hegemony over the Germanic rulers of the West and to liberate Gaul from Roman domination.”
    .
    In the final sentence, where was the new abbey church located, in Rheims? (It seems funny, if that were the place to which his remains were translated, they nevertheless don’t join others in observing “their” date as his feast day.)
    .
    I’d also like to know what Clovis was before his conversion. (Pagan, I expect.) It might throw more light on the “burning” reference in the bio, and the “vain idolatry” reference in the collect.

  4. Leonel L. Mitchell says:

    St. Remy is certainly an important figure historically, bridging the gap between the Constantinian Church and the Middle Ages and beibf crucial in the defeat of Arianism, but he is just a nmame to most contemporary Christians.
    I am not quite sue why the reading from Jeremiah is relevant.

  5. Nigel Renton says:

    There were several Christian leaders named “Remigius”, including a bishop.. I suggest “Remigius of Rheims”, or “St. Remigius”

    Now that we can have more than one commemoration on the same day, I hope the SCLM will consider recommending moving the commemoration of Remigius to January 13. Commemoration of the date of reburial of disinterred remains seems a thin justification for the October 1st date.

    In line 11 of the second paragraph, substitute “in England” for “for the English”. (Conversion was too controversial for the people of England to have considered it to have been done–as Christians undoubtedly did–on their behalf.)

    In line 14 of the second paragraph, substitute “some three thousand” for “3,000”. We should avoid claiming highly dubious exact numbers to convey approximations, and using numerals only emphasizes a suspicious precision. (We understand that the gospel accounts of feeding four or five thousand are not to be taken literally, but we don’t need to perpetuate an early era’s lack of concern for an accurate count.)

    Although we are told that he was also known as “Remi”, it seems strange and may be somewhat confusing to use that version of his name in line 14 of the second paragraph. I suggest spelling out the name in the form to which we are accustomed.

  6. Steve Lusk says:

    The Franks were pagans when they crossed the Rhine in 451. Clovis’ baptism by Remigius ensured that the future rulers of western Europe (most notably Charlemagne) would be catholics, rather than Arians like the Visigoths and Vandals.
    The downside of all this history is that we don’t honor Ulphilas as the Apostle to the Goths. It wasn’t his fault that he was an Arian, as that was the faith of his emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople of the time. Ulphilas’ achievement ranks with that of Cyril and Methodius: see Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chapter XXXVII. As Gibbon considers Christians to be the prime culprits in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, we should pay attention when he praises one.

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