Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Paternus, Bishop of Avranches, Confessor
[Called by the French Patier, Pair, and Foix.] HE was born at Poitiers, about the year 482. His father, Patranus, with the consent of his wife, went into Ireland, where he ended his days in holy solitude. Paternus, fired by his example, embraced young a monastic life in the abbey of Ansion, called, in succeeding ages, Marnes, and at present, from the name of a holy abbot of that house, St. Jovin des Marnes, in the diocess of Poitiers. After some time, burning with a desire of attaining to the perfection of Christian virtue, he passed over to Wales, and in Cardiganshire founded a monastery called Llan-patern-vaur, or the church of the great Paternus. He made a visit to his father in Ireland: but being called back to his monastery of Ansion, he soon after retired with St. Scubilion, a monk of that house, and embraced an austere anchoretical life in the forest of Scicy, in the diocess of Coutances, near the sea, having first obtained leave of the bishop and of the lord of the place. This desert, which was then of a great extent, but has been since gradually gained upon by the sea, was anciently in great request among the Druids. St. Pair converted to the faith the idolaters of that and many neighbouring parts, as far as Bayeux, and prevailed with them to demolish a pagan temple in this desert, which was held in great veneration by the ancient Gauls. St. Senier, called in Latin Senator, St. Gaud, and St. Aroastes, holy priests, were his fellow hermits in this wilderness, and his fellow labourers in these missions. St. Pair, in his old age, was consecrated bishop of Avranches by Germanus, bishop of Rouen. The church of Avranches was exceedingly propagated in the reign of Clovis, or his children, by St. Severus, the second bishop of the see, who built the famous abbey which still bears his name, in the diocess of Coutances, and is honoured at Rouen on the 1st of February, at Avranches on the 7th of July. St. Pair governed his diocess thirteen years, and died about the year 550, on the same day with St. Scubilion. Both were buried in the same monument, in the oratory of Scicy, now the parish church of St. Pair, a village much frequented by pilgrims, near Granville, on the sea-coast. In the same oratory was inferred St. Senator, or Senier, the successor of St. Pair, in the see of Avranches, who died in 563, and is honoured on the 18th of September. This church1 is still enriched with the greater part of these relics, and those of St. Gaud, except those of SS. Severus and Senier, which have been translated to the cathedral at Rouen, and portions of St. Seniers are at St. Magloires and St. Victors at Paris. St. Pair is titular saint of a great number of churches in those parts. See his life in Mabillon, sæc. 2. Ben. p. 1103. Gallia Christ. Nova, t. 11. p. 471. Fleury, l. 33. t. 7. The abridgment of his life by Rouault, curate of St. Pairs, printed in 1734, stands in need of a critical hand.
Note 1. Near this oratory stood the ancient monastery of Scicy, which Richard I., duke of Normandy, united to that of St. Michael on Mount Tumba, which he founded in 966, upon the spot where before stood a collegiate church of canons, built in 709, by St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches. It is called St. Michaels on the Tomb, or at the Tombs, because two mountains are called Tombs, from their resemblance to the rising or covering of graves. On one of these, three hundred feet high, which the tide makes an island at high water, stands this famous monastery, enriched with many precious relics, and resorted to by a great number of pilgrims. See a curious description of this place in Dom. Beauniers Recueil général des Evêches, Abbayes, &c. p. 725, t. 2. [back]