September 19, 2017

Saint Sequanus of Mesmont (+ c. 580)

St. Sequanus of Mesmont (Feast Day - September 19)

Saint Sequanus* was born in the town of Mesmont, in Burgundy. His parents gave him an excellent education, and permitted him to embrace monasticism, to which he was inclined from childhood. After being tonsured by his priest and living as a hermit, the Bishop of Langres ordained him to the priesthood due to his holy way of life. However, he was disliked by the local clergy, so he went to the Monastery of Reome in Auxois under the direction of Abbot John, and there he studied Holy Scripture and attained all the virtues.

Eventually, Sequanus left to found his own monastery in the forest of Cestres, near the Seine, in 534. He gained a reputation for miracles, began gathering followers and the monastery soon flourished. The monastery attracted nearby peasants who started settling a small community around the church. This community eventually became the town of Saint-Seine-l'Abbaye. Sequanus died around 580 on September 19th and was buried at the Abbey of Saint-Seine. His relics were stolen during the French Revolution and have been presumed destroyed.

Saint Gregory of Tours, in his book Glory of the Confessors (Ch. 86), writes of his wonderworking grace:

"Sequanus, an abbot in the territory of Langres, was a man of great power. While alive he often freed men from the bond of diabolical obligation; after his death, through his own merits at his tomb he allowed men who were bound by the chain of a prison to depart as free men. King Guntramn [561-592] lost a horn that had been taken in theft. With the sound of this horn he had been accustomed to collect his Molossian hounds or to scatter herds of antlered [deer] in the forest. This theft [made him] throw many men into chains and deprive some men of their possessions. Three of these men sought the shrine of the aforementioned confessor. When king Guntramn learned of this, he ordered the men to be bound in chains and fetters. This was done. In the middle of the night a light that was brighter than a human light appeared in the church. The bolts of the iron fetters on their feet broke, the links of the chains were shattered, and the captives were released. The king was terrified when he heard of this, and he quickly endowed them with the power of a free choice."

His life was represented in a series of frescoes of two rows of 21 paintings painted on the wall of the abbey church of the Abbey of Saint-Seine in 1504. Very damaged during the Revolution, they were restored; they were classified as historic monuments in 1908.


* His original name was Sigo, which changed after his death to Seine. This is because his abbey was located in the area from which the Seine River has its source. Sequanus is his name in Latin.