February 20, 2020

Saint Eucherius, Bishop of Orleans (+ 743)

St. Eucherius of Orleans (Feast Day - February 20)

Saint Eucherius's sanctity was formed by his parents. His mother was a lady of great virtue. While she was carrying her son, she begged God daily for divine grace and offered the unborn Eucherius to the Heavenly Father. At his birth, his parents dedicated him to God. When he was seven, his studies were planned to form both mind and soul. After being well-educated, especially in theology, Eucherius entered the Benedictine abbey of Jumièges on the Seine in the diocese of Rouen around 714.

He spent six or seven years here practicing penitential austerities and obedience, until the senate, people, and clergy of Orléans appointed persons to Charles Martel, mayor of the palace, to beg his permission to elect Eucherius to the see vacated by the death of Eucherius's uncle, Bishop Suavaric. Charles Martel agreed and sent one of his principal officers to conduct Eucherius from his monastery to Orléans. Eucherius was horrified at the notion of being consecrated bishop and sought the protection of his brother monks. But they preferred the public good to their private inclinations, and resigned him up for that important charge. Eucherius was received and consecrated at Orléans with universal applause in 721.

Although he was apprehensive about assuming the responsibilities of a see, his prayer life was vital. He found all the help and encouragement he needed in his relationship with God. Eucherius devoted himself entirely to the care of his flock. He was indefatigable in instructing and reforming his flock. His sweet spirit and charity were so genuine that, in general, he was loved and obeyed even by those whom he reproved. Except Charles Martel.

In order to finance his wars and reward his vassals, Charles Martel often stripped the churches of their revenues, and encouraged others to do the same. Eucherius, who reproved these encroachments, was represented to the prince as offering a personal attack; therefore, in 737, Charles stopped in Orléans on his return to Paris after having defeated the Saracens in Aquitaine. He ordered Eucherius to follow him to Verneuil upon the Oise, in the diocese of Beauvais, where he then kept his court. There Eucherius and all his relatives were exiled to Cologne in 737 by Charles Martel.

Yet even in exile, Eucherius bloomed where God had planted him. The citizens of Cologne soon highly esteemed his virtue. So Charles Martel ordered him to move again, this time to a fortress in Hasbain (Haspengaw) near Liège, where he was placed under house arrest. But the governor, Robert, so charmed with his virtue, that he made him a distributor of alms, and allowed him to retire to the Monastery of Sarchinium, or Saint-Trond's near Maastricht, where he spent his last years in prayer and contemplation, till the year 743, in which he died on the 20th of February.

After his blessed repose, tapers lit at his tomb did not burn away and oil from the lamps healed many of the sick who had recourse to the intercession of the holy Bishop with faith. His life was written by a contemporary.