October 24, 2020

Saint Eberigisil, Bishop of Cologne (+ 593)

St. Eberigisil of Cologne (Feast Day - October 24)

Saint Eberigisil was Bishop of Cologne, being its fifth well-attested bishop, and the first with a Frankish name. He is mentioned by Gregory of Tours but always using the past tense, so it is assumed that Eberigisil died before 594. He was known and loved by the people for his diplomatic skills.

Gregory of Tours writes of him as follows:

"At Cologne there is a church in which the fifty men from the holy Theban Legion are said to have consummated their martyrdom for the name of Christ. And because the church, with its wonderful construction and mosaics, shines as if somehow gilded, the inhabitants prefer to call it the 'Church of the Golden Saints'. Once Eberigisil, who was at the time Bishop of Cologne, was racked with severe pains in half of his head. He was then in a villa near a village. Severely weakened by this pain, as I said, he sent his deacon to the church of the saints. Since there was said to be in the middle of this church a pit into which the saints were thrown together after their martyrdom, the deacon collected some dust there and brought it to the bishop. As soon as the dust touched Eberigisil's head, immediately all pain was gone."

"Bishop Eberigisil discovered the body of the martyr Saint Mallosus in this way. Although it was reported that Mallosus had consummated his martyrdom in the village of Birten, men were uncertain where he had been buried. There was, however, an oratory there, in which his name was invoked. The aforementioned Bishop Eberigisil built a church in honor of Mallosus so that whenever he received some revelation about the martyr he might, with the Lord's approval, transfer his holy body to the church. Finally, in the side of the church, that is, in the wall which was next to the oratory, he built an arch and included the oratory in an apse. He beseeched the pity of the Lord that he reveal whatever he might order concerning the martyr. Later a deacon at Metz was guided by a vision and learned where the martyr was buried. A short time later he came to bishop Eberigisilus. Although he had never been there before, it was as if he were reciting familiar landmarks that he had seen in his vision. He said to the bishop: 'Dig here, and you will find the body of the saint,' that is, in the middle of the apse. When the bishop had dug about seven feet down, the scent of an overpowering perfume reached his nose and he said: 'Since this sweet fragrance surrounds me, I believe in Christ, because he has revealed his martyr to me.' Digging further, he found that the holy body was intact. In a loud voice he cried out, 'Glory to God in the highest,' and he had the entire clergy chant psalms with him. After singing a hymn he transferred the holy body to the church, and with the conventional laudations he buried it."

According to medieval sources, the day of his death is said to have been September 14th. It is said that Eberigisil died a martyr's death either in Tongeren or in a place called Trutmonia (Dortmund?). Archbishop Brun of Cologne transferred the alleged remains of Eberigisil from Tongeren (or Trutmonia) to Cologne in 955. The bones of Eberigisil were then exhibited and venerated in a precious shrine in the Saint Cecilia Church in Cologne. In 1802, when Cecilia was no longer a collegiate church, the bones were transferred to Saint Peter's, where they are still in the chapel today. The gold fittings of the reliquary chest, which were confiscated during the French era, were replaced with gold-plated brass fittings in 1837.