Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume I: January. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Aldric, Bishop of Mans, Confessor
THIS saint was born of a noble family, of partly Saxon and partly Bavarian extraction, about the year 800. At twelve years of age he was placed by his father in the court of Charlemagne, in the family of Lewis le debonnaire, where, by his application to the exercises of devotion, and to serious studies, and by his eminent virtue, he gained the esteem of the whole court. But the false lustre of worldly honours had no charms for one who, from his infancy had entertained no other desire than that of consecrating himself to the divine service. About the year 821, biding adieu to the court, he retired from Aix-la-chapelle to Metz, where he entered himself amongst the clergy, in the bishops seminary, and received the clerical tonsure. Two years after, he was promoted to the holy orders of deacon, and, after three years more, to the priesthood. The emperor Lewis le debonnaire called him again to court, and made him his first chaplain and his confessor. In 832, St. Aldric was chosen bishop of Mans, and consecrated on the 22nd of December. The emperor arrived at Mans three days after, and kept the Christmas holy-days with him. The holy pastor was humble, patient, severe towards himself, and mild and charitable to all others. He employed both his patrimony and his whole interest and credit in relieving the poor, redeeming captives, establishing churches and monasteries, and promoting piety and religion. In the civil wars which divided the French monarchy, his fidelity to his prince, and to his successor Charles the Bald, was inviolable, for which he was for almost a year expelled, by the factious from his see; though it is a subject of dispute whether this happened in the former or in the latter reign. It was a principal part of his care, to maintain an exact discipline in his clergy; for whose use he drew up a collection of canons, of councils, and decretals of popes, called his Capitulars, which seems to have been the most learned and judicious work of that kind which that age produced, so that the loss of it is much regretted.1 Some fragments have reached us of the excellent regulations which he made for the celebration of the divine service, in which he orders ten wax candles, and ninety lamps with oil, to be lighted up in his cathedral on all great festivals.2 We have three testaments of this holy prelate extant.3 The last is an edifying monument of his sincere piety; in the two first, he bequeaths several lands and possessions to many churches of his diocess, adding prudent advice and regulations for maintaining good order, and a spirit of charity, between the clergy and monks. In 836, he was deputed by the council of Aix-la-chapelle, with Erchenrad, bishop of Paris, to Pepin, king of Aquitain, who was then reconciled with the emperor his father; and that prince was prevailed on by them to cause all the possessions of churches, which had been seized by those of his party, to be restored. Our saint assisted at the eighth council of Paris, in 846, and at the council of Tours, in 849. The two last years of his life he was confined to his bed by a palsy, during which time he redoubled his fervour and assiduity in holy prayer, for which he had from his infancy an extraordinary ardour. He died the 7th of January, 856, having been bishop almost twenty-four years. He was buried in the church of St. Vincent, to which, and the monastery to which it belongs, he had been a great benefactor. His relics are honourably preserved there at this day, and his festival has been kept at Mans from time immemorial. See his life published by Baluze, T. 3. Miscell. from an ancient MS. belonging to his church. The author produces many original public instruments, and seems to have been contemporary. (See Hist. Lit. de la France, T. 5. p. 145.) Another life, probably compiled by a canon of the cathedral of Mans, in the time of Robert, successor to Saint Aldric, is given us by Mabillon, Annal. T. 3, p. 46. 246. 397. &c. but inserts some false pieces. (See Hist. Lit. ib. p. 148.) The life of St. Aldric, which we find in Bollandus, is a modern piece composed by John Moreau, canon of Mans.