Remigius, known also as Remi, one of the patron saints of France, was born about the year 438, the son of a Gallo-Roman nobleman, the comites (count) of Laon. At the young age of twenty-two he became bishop of the city of Rheims.
Noted for his learning and holiness of life, Remigius is chiefly remembered because he converted and baptized Clovis, king of the Franks, on Christmas Day in the year 496. This event was a pivotal one in the religious history of Europe. Clovis, by becoming a Catholic Christian instead of an Arian, as were most of the Germanic peoples of the time who had conquered parts of the defunct western Roman Empire, was able to unite the Christian Gallo-Roman population of Gaul and their leaders behind his expanding hegemony over the Germanic rulers of the West. His conversion made possible the cooperation the Franks gave later to Pope Gregory the Great in his evangelistic efforts for the English. Clovis’ motives in accepting Catholic (Nicene) Christianity were almost certainly mixed, but there is no doubt of the sincerity of his decision, nor of the important role of Remigius – and of Clovis’ wife, Clothilde – in bringing it to pass. When Clovis was baptized, together with three thousand of his followers, Remigius gave him the charge, “Worship what you have burned, and burn what you have worshiped.”
The feast of Remigius is observed at Rheims on January 13, possibly the date of his death. The translation of his relics to the new abbey church of Saint-Rémy in 1099 is commemorated on October 1. In England six ancient churches were dedicated to Saint Remigius.
prepared from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980), with additions
O God, by the teaching of your faithful servant and bishop Remigius you turned the nation of the Franks from vain idolatry to the worship of you, the true and living God, in the fullness of the catholic faith: Grant that we who glory in the name of Christian may show forth our faith in worthy deeds; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The propers for the commemoration of Remigius, Bishop of Rheims, are published on the Lectionary page website.
The icon of Saint Remigius is from the St Elizabeth Greek Old Calendarist Convent in Etna, California. It was commissioned by Romanos Emmert, who provided the photographic image to the Western Saints Icon Project.