Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Saint Honoratus, Archbishop of Arles and Founder of Lerins Monastery (+ 429)

St. Honoratus of Arles (Feast Day - January 16)

Saint Honoratus was born in Gaul around the year 350, and came from a distinguished Roman family. In his youth he renounced the worship of idols, and gained his elder brother Venantius to Christ, whom he also inspired with a contempt of the world. They desired to renounce it entirely, but their pagan father put continual obstacles in their way. At length they took Saint Caprasius (June 1), a holy hermit, for their spiritual father, wishing to become hermits themselves. The three decided to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and visit the holy places of Greece, Palestine, Syria and Egypt from Marseilles at about 368. However, Venantius died at Methoni, Messenia and Caprasius and Honoratus cut short their voyage.

Caprasius and Honoratus returned to Gaul, where they established themselves in the hills near Fréjus before returning to Lerins, where they wished to imitate the Desert Fathers. There they were joined by many others, such as Saints Lupus of Troyes (July 29), Eucherius of Lyons (Nov. 16), and Hilary of Arles (May 5), and the hermits were inspired by the monastic rule of Saint Pachomios. Some Honoratus appointed to live in a community; others, who seemed more perfect, in separate cells, as anchorites. He established the famous Monastery of Lerins around the year 400.


The Saint depleted his youthful vigor through fasting and asceticism, and so “the powers of the body made way for the power of the spirit.” Though in poor health, he managed to follow the same rule of fasting and keeping vigil as those who were younger and stronger than he. He would visit the sick when he was even sicker than they were, offering consolation for body and soul. Then, fearing he had not done enough for them, he would review each case in his mind to determine how he could ease their suffering.

Adorned with virtues, Saint Honoratus treated a variety of spiritual diseases, freeing many from their enslavement to vice. His insight into each person’s character enabled him to apply the appropriate remedies for restoring souls to spiritual health.

Saint Honoratus died in 429 shortly after being consecrated by compulsion as Archbishop of Arles in 426. Saint Hilary of Arles, his relative and successor, delivered a eulogy which still survives. Honoratus' various writings have not been preserved, nor has the Rule which he gave to the solitaries of Lérins. John Cassian, who had visited his monastery, dedicated to him several of his Conferences.


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