September 7, 2017

Saint Cloud of Paris (+ 560)

St. Clodoald of Paris (Feast Day - September 7)

On the death of Clovis, King of the Franks, in the year 511 his kingdom was divided between his four sons, of whom the second was Chlodomer. Saint Clodoald, better known as Cloud, was born in 520 the son of King Chlodomer of Orleans and his wife Guntheuc. When his father was killed in battle in 524 in Burgundy, he and his brothers were brought up by their grandmother Saint Clotilde (June 3) in Paris. He was one of three brothers, all of whom were targeted for assassination by their uncles, King Clotaire I of Soissons and King Childebert of Paris, to prevent them from succeeding to the Frankish throne. Cloud's brothers, Theodoald and Gunther, were killed by Clotaire when they were ten and nine respectively, but Cloud survived by escaping with the aid of brave men to Provence.

Childebert and his brother Clotaire shared the fruits of their crime, and Cloud made no attempt to recover his kingdom when he came of age, though he had several opportunities to do so. Instead with his own hands he cut off his hair, a symbol of Frankish royalty, which signified his renunciation of the world and embracing of the monastic life. Thus instead of becoming an earthly king, he became a king who is master of himself, and has learned the art of ruling those passions to which kings are often miserably enslaved. At first he settled by himself in a cell as a hermit, but then put himself under the discipline of Saint Severinus, a holy recluse who lived in a hermitage of Paris, at the site of the present Church of Saint Severin in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, and from his hands he received the monastic schema.

Church of Saint Clodoald in Saint-Cloud

Under this experienced elder the fervent disciple made great progress in Christian perfection; but the neighborhood of Paris being a trouble to him who desired nothing so much as to live unknown to the world, he withdrew secretly into Provence, where he passed several years, and wrought many miracles. Seeing he gained nothing by the remoteness of his solitude, after his hermitage was once made public by many resorting to him, he at length returned to Paris, and was received with the greatest joy imaginable. At the earnest request of the people he was ordained priest by Eusebius, Bishop of Paris, in 551, and served that Church for some time in the functions of the sacred ministry.

Vertebra relic of St. Cloud

Afterwards Cloud retired to Nogent, on the Seine River, now called Saint-Cloud, about six miles from central Paris near Versailles, where he built a monastery dependent on the Church of Paris. In this monastery he assembled many pious men, who fled out of the world for fear of losing their souls in it. Saint Cloud was regarded by them as their superior, and he animated them to all virtue both by word and example. All his inheritance he bestowed on churches, or distributed among the poor. Saint Cloud was indefatigable in instructing and exhorting the people of Paris, and piously ended his days at Nogent about the year 560. He is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on the 7th of September, which seems to have been the day of his death. The monastery has been since changed into a collegiate church of canons regular, where the relics of the Saint were kept. The relics of the Saint were destroyed by the revolutionaries of the French Revolution by tossing them in a fire, with the exception of the arm which is preserved in a silver reliquary in the church, as well as a fragment of his vertebra that rests at Saint Mary's Cathedral in Saint-Cloud.