Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Hidulphus, Bishop and Abbot
From Richerius, in his Chronicle of Senones, t. 3. Spicileg. and the saints three imperfect lives, with the remarks of Solier the Bollandist, t. 3, Jul. p. 205. See also Calmet, Hist. de Lorrainæ, 1, 10, p. 445, &c.
ST. HIDULPH, or HILDULPH, was born at Ratisbon in Bavaria, of one of the most illustrious families in the country, and renounced great temporal possessions in his youth to consecrate himself to God in an ecclesiastical state, which he embraced with his brother St. Erard, who was advanced to the episcopal see at Ratisbon, was buried at Moyen-Moutier, and is honoured among the saints on the 8th of January.1 Hidulph was consecrated archbishop of Triers, and discharged for some time all the duties of a vigilant and zealous pastor. The monastery of St. Maximin had been founded in the fourth century, and doubtless observed the discipline of the oriental monks. Hidulph introduced into it the Benedictin Order about the year 665, and so much augmented it in revenues and settled in it so perfect a spirit of monastic virtue, that it was the admiration of that age, and is to this day one of the most flourishing abbeys in Germany.
Hidulph was much taken with the charms of holy retirement, with the happy security and liberty of that state, its exercises of humility, penance, and prayer, and the liberty which it affords of living disengaged from worldly attachments and distractions, in a continual application to heavenly things. He was also strongly affected by the example and conversation of many divine men who then adorned the church, and maintained in it the true spirit of Christ, by the odour of sanctity which their angelic minds and deportment spread, and who were raised to this heroic virtue by the exercises of a monastic life. The obligations of his own charge (which he could not abandon unless his reasons for resigning it were such as to be approved of by a superior authority, as that of a primate, and rather of the pope as patriarch of the West) withheld him some time; but he at length found means to resign his see to St. Veomade, abbot of St. Maximins, and hid himself in that monastery.2 But finding it impossible to live in the obscurity which he sought, in the midst of his own diocess, he retired secretly amidst the mountains of Voge, on the confines of Lorrain, and settled in a small hermitage on the spot which the monks of Senones and Estival gave him, and on which he soon after, about the year 676, built the monastery of Moyen-Moutier. This name was given it from its situation between the abbeys of Senones to the east, of Estival to the west, of Bodon-Moutier to the north, and to the south that of Jointures, now the collegiate church of canons, and the town of St. Die. Three hundred monks served God under his direction; for, besides those who composed the monastery of Moyen-Moutier, at the request of his friend St. Die, upon his death-bed, and of his community, he took upon him also the charge of that abbey, and many lived under his conduct in separate cells. St. Hidulph governed his own monastery above thirty years, though for some time, whilst he was obliged to reside at St. Dies, he appointed a vicar in his room at Moyen-Moutier. He returned thither before his death, which happened in 707, or, according to others, in 713. His relics are kept in a silver shrine in this monastery, which at present bears his name, and in union with that of St. Vannes, began the reformation of the Benedictin Order, which is so famous in Lorrain, and in France. St. Hidulphs name is not inserted in the Roman Martyrology but is famous in German French, and Benedictin Calendars.
The sanctity of those ancient monks who, by the exercises of humility and holy solitude, attained to so wonderful a victory over their passions, so sublime a degree of virtue, and so heavenly a temper as to have seemed rather angels than men, was the admiration even of infidels, and the edification of all those who had the happiness of enjoying their conversation. For my part, said St. Sulpicius Severus, or his friend Posthumianus,3 so long as I shall keep alive and in my senses, I shall ever celebrate the monks of Egypt, praise the anchorets, and admire the hermits. Of the same another ancient eyewitness says,4 there have I seen many fathers leading an angelic life, and walking after the example of Jesus. The more happy and the more perfect a religious state is, the greater ought to be the watchfulness and the fervour of those who are engaged in it not to fall short of their obligations, and lose the precious graces of their vocation.
Persons in the world are usually inclined to show no indulgence for the least failings which they observe in religious persons. How much soever the reformation and perfect sanctification of the more illustrious portion of the flock of Christ be to be desired and prayed for by all, and promoted by the chief pastors, these severe censors would better employ their zeal in looking into, and reforming their own hearts. They must never forget that all Christians, by their baptismal engagements and the sacred law of the gospel which they profess, are bound to sanctify their souls, and to serve God in the perfect sentiments and practice of all virtues. If in this degenerate age many religious establishments stand in need of a spur or some reformation, we may believe an enemy that there is no class or condition of Christians in general which does not want it still much more.
Note 1. Molanus in Auctario Martyrol. Menard, in Martyr. Bened. Bucelin, &c. [back]
Note 2. Some have imagined that St. Hidulph was only chorepiscopus or vicar, probably with episcopal orders, for the administration of part of the diocess. But the most judicious critics agree with the original writers of his life, that he was himself archbishop of Triers. [back]
Note 3. Sulpic. Sever. Dial. 1, c. 26, ol. 18, p. 94, ed. nov. Veron. an. 1741. [back]
Note 4. Heraclides ap. Cotel. Monum. Eccl. Gr. t. 3, p. 172. See St. Chrys. contra oppugn. vitæ monast. t. 1. S. Gr. Naz. St. Basil, &c. [back]