September 9, 2019

Saint Omer, Bishop of Therouanne († 670)

St. Omer of Therouanne (Feast Day - September 9)

Saint Omer (Audomar) was born toward the close of the sixth century in the territory of Constance. His parents, who were noble and wealthy, paid great attention to his education, but, above all, strove to inspire him with a love for virtue. Upon the death of his mother he entered the Monastery of Luxeuil and persuaded his father to accompany him, which he did after they sold their worldly goods and distributed the proceeds among the poor. The father and son made their monastic profession together, being tonsured by Saint Eustasius (Mar. 29). The humility, obedience, mildness and devotion, together with the admirable purity of intention which shone forth in every action of Saint Omer, distinguished him even among his holy brethren.

He was soon called from his monastic retreat, chosen by King Dagobert to take charge of the government of the Church in Therouanne and Boulogne, an ancient diocese of the region of Arras. The greater number of the inhabitants of the region were still pagans, and even the few Christians, through a scarcity of priests, had lapsed regrettably. The great and difficult work of their conversion first began with Saint Victricius of Rouen (Aug. 7), and their re-conversion was reserved for Saint Omer together with his disciples, Saints Bertin, Mommolin and Ebertrand. The holy bishop applied himself to his task with such efficacious zeal that in a short time his diocese became one of the most flourishing in France. A pagan overlord who had persecuted the Christians could not resist his exhortations, and after his baptism gave large grants to the Church; on one of those terrains the bishop built a monastery in honor of the Blessed Virgin, which eventually grew into the town of Saint-Omer.

After governing his Church for nearly thirty years, Saint Omer in his old age became blind, but that affliction did not lessen his pastoral concern for his flock. One day, while assisting at the translation of the relics of Saint Vaast (Feb. 6), the touch of the holy relics restored his sight. Upon realizing that blindness was more of a benefit to his soul, a state in which he could focus on the good things eternally prepared for those who love God, he asked Saint Vaast for his sight to be once again taken away. He died in the odor of sanctity of a fever while on a missionary journey, in the year 670.