Brice of Tours

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Saint Brice
Saintbrice.jpg
Saint Brice and Saint Martin of Tours
Born c. AD 370
Died AD 444
Venerated in Eastern Orthodox Church
Roman Catholic Church
Canonized pre-congregation
Feast 13 November

Saint Brice of Tours (Latin: Brictius;[a] c. 370 – 444 AD) was a 5th-century Frankish bishop, the fourth Bishop of Tours, succeeding Martin of Tours in 397.[1]

Background

Brice was a contemporary of Augustine of Hippo and lived in the time of the Council of Ephesus. Gaul was part of the Roman Empire, where Christianity was the official state religion since the end of the 4th century, and was in the process of advanced Christianization. However, the Western Roman Empire was already very close to collapse, and in the course of the migration of peoples in the fifth century, various Germanic empires formed; the time was politically rather uncertain.

Early life

According to legend, Brice was an orphan. He was rescued by Bishop Martin and raised in the monastery at Marmoutiers.[2] He later became Martin's pupil, although the ambitious and volatile Brice was rather the opposite of his master in temperament.

In one account, when Martin prophesied that Brice would become his successor as bishop, but would have many difficulties, the clerics of Tours, where the thought of such a bishop did not arouse enthusiasm, asked Martin to send the troublemaker away; but Martin replied: "If Jesus could come to terms with Judas, then I can certainly come to terms with Brice."

Career

When Martin died in 397, Brice was elected by the people to succeed him as Bishop. As Bishop of Tours, Brice performed his duties, but was also said to succumb to worldly pleasures. He was repeatedly accused of secular ambition, and various other minor mistakes during this time, but Church official investigations each time released him.

In the thirtieth year of his episcopate, a nun who was a washerwoman in his household gave birth to a child that owing to calumny, was rumored to be his.[2] He submitted to a ritual of carrying hot coals in his cloak to the tomb of St. Martin, showing the unburned cloak as proof of his innocence. The people of Tours, however, did not believe him and forced him to leave Tours or be stoned by them. He could return only after he had travelled to Rome and been absolved of all his sins by the Pope.

After seven years of exile in Rome, Brice returned to Tours, completely exonerated by the pope.[2] During his absence several other bishops had been appointed to Tours; but when he came back, the last of them was just died and Brice resumed his duties. He served with such humility that on his death seven years later he was venerated as a saint.

Veneration

Brice is described in various biographies as a controversial figure. Church historians see in the various relevant legends an expression of the tensions between the regular clergy and the secular priests in Tours at that time. His bones were transferred by Gregory of Tours to Clermont and are now in the church of San Michele in Pavia. Churches were named after him.

Feast day

His memorial day is 13 November.

The killing of the Danes in England on 13 November 1002 is called the St Brice's Day massacre.

In the town of Stamford in Lincolnshire, 13 November, St Brice's Day, was traditionally the day that a bull-running took place.[3]

Iconography

St. Brice is depicted as a bishop, with glowing coals in his robe or with a baby in his arms.

Notes

  1. ^ Also scribed as Bricius, Britius, Brixius, Briktius, or Briccius.

References

  1. ^ Gregory of Tours, "History of the Franks": "De episcopis Turonicis" ("On the bishops of Tours")
  2. ^ a b c Monks of Ramsgate. “Brixius”. Book of Saints, 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 7 September 2012. Web
  3. ^ "November 13th". thebookofdays.com. Retrieved 16 November 2010. 

Sources

  • Sulpicius Severus: Dialogi III, 15 (online)
  • Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks Book II Chap.1

External links

Media related to Saint Brice at Wikimedia Commons

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