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July 29, 2019

Saint Lupus the Confessor, Bishop of Troyes (+ 479)

St. Lupus of Troyes (Feast Day - July 29)

Saint Lupus (in French known as Loup or Leu) was born around 383 at Toul, and he was the son of a wealthy nobleman, Epirocus of Toul. Having lost his parents when he was an infant, Lupus was brought up by his uncle Alistocus. Being learned and eloquent, Lupus was a lawyer for some years with great reputation, and held a number of estates in Maxima Sequanorum. Lupus was brother-in-law to Saint Hilary of Arles, as he had married one of Hilary's sisters, Pimeniola. After six years of marriage, he and his wife parted by mutual agreement, and made a mutual vow of perpetual continency.

Lupus sold his estate and gave the money to the poor. He entered Lérins Abbey, a community led by Saint Honoratus, where he stayed about a year. In 427 Honoratus was named Bishop of Arles, and Hilary accompanied him to his new see. Lupus retired to Macon where he came to the attention of Germanus of Auxerre, who appointed Lupus the Bishop of Troyes. Lupus was reluctant to assume this office and at first declined, but eventually relented.

St. Hilary marries Lupus to Pimeniola

In this dignity he continued the same practices of humility, mortification, and as much as possible even of poverty. He never wore any other garments than a sackcloth and a single tunic, lay upon boards, and allotted every second night entire to keeping vigil in prayer. He often passed three days without taking any nourishment, and after so rigorous a fast allowed himself nothing but a little barley bread. Thus he lived, laboring at the same time in all his pastoral functions with a zeal worthy an apostle.

In the autumn of 429, the Council of Arles, at the request of the bishops in Britain, sent Lupus and Germanus of Auxerre to combat Pelagianism. Agricola, a disciple of the heresiarchs Pelagius, who was a British monk, and Celestius a Scot, had spread their poison in Britain. There they entirely banished the heresy by their prayers, preaching, and miracles. They returned to Gaul just after Easter in the spring of 430.

In 453 by assiduous prayer he defended the city of Troyes from the furor of Attila and the Huns, who was devastating all France. According to the accounts, after praying for many days, Lupus, dressed in full episcopal regalia, went to meet Attila at the head of a procession of the clergy. Attila was allegedly so impressed with Lupus that he spared the city. Attila went on to lose the Battle of Châlons. Lupus ran into trouble when Attila asked the bishop to accompany him and his army after Châlons; Attila believed that Lupus’ presence would spare his army from extermination. However, Lupus was accused by the Romans of helping the Huns escape. Lupus was forced to leave Troyes, and he became a hermit in the mountains.*

St. Lupus before Attila the Hun

He spared no pains to save one lost sheep, and his labors were often crowned with a success which seemed miraculous. Among other instances it is recorded that a certain person of his diocess, named Gallus, had forsaken his wife and withdrawn to Clermont. Saint Lupus could not see this soul perish, but wrote to Saint Sidonius, then Bishop of Clermont, a strong letter so prudently tempered with sweetness, that Gallus by reading it was at once terrified and persuaded, and immediately set out to return to his wife. Upon which Saint Sidonius cried out: “What is more wonderful than a single reprimand, which both affrights a sinner into compunction, and makes him love his censor!” This letter of Saint Lupus and several others are lost; but we have one by which he congratulated Sidonius upon his promotion to his see, having passed from a secular prefecture or government to the episcopacy, which charge he shows to be laborious, difficult, and dangerous. He strongly exhorts him, above all things, to humility. This letter was written in 471.

Among the many miracles of Saint Lupus are the following: he resurrected the son of Germanicus, a great lord; he exorcised a girl rendered dumb; he healed a paralytic woman; and after his death a slave took refuge at his tomb to escape his master who sought to kill him, and the Saint in turn restrained the master's arm and struck him with a disease.

St. Lupus exorcised a girl rendered dumb

Lupus was bishop for fifty-two years and died at Troyes in 479 at the age of 94. His remains were deposited in the Abbey of Saint-Loup de Troyes he founded during his lifetime. All that remains of his relics is a fragment of skull, now exhibited in the treasury of Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Troyes.

Sidonius Apollinaris called Saint Lupus: "The father of fathers and bishop of bishops, the chief of the Gallican prelates, the rule of manners, the pillar of truth, the friend of God, and the intercessor to him for men."


* Many scholars doubt the veracity of the account of the Attila incident. A similar story is told of Saint Genevieve. Donald Attwater writes that the tale of Lupus and Attila is hagiographical rather than historical (The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, 1945, Reprint: 1981, p. 223). However, the historical kernel it might contain is that Troyes was spared being sacked by Attila's army and that its inhabitants considered this a miraculous deliverance.