January 15, 2018

Saint Honoratus, Bishop and Hermit

Saint Honoratus

January 16th is historically the feast of Saint Honoratus, the 4th century French bishop and hermit. He was born in Gaul (present day France) about the year 350, into a distinguished Roman family. After a pilgrimage to Greece and to Rome, he became a hermit on the isle of Lerins, devoting himself to pious works, together with Sts. Lupus of Troyes, Eucherius of Lyons, and Hilary of Arles, among others.

Saint Honoratus was of a consular Roman family settled in Gaul. In his youth he renounced the worship of idols, and gained his elder brother, Venantius, to Christ. Convinced of the hollowness of the things of this world, they wished to renounce it with all its pleasures, but a fond pagan father put continual obstacles in their way. At length, taking St. Caprais, a holy hermit, for their director, they sailed from Marseilles to Greece, with the intention to live there unknown in the desert.

Venantius soon died happily at Methone, and Honoratus, being also sick, was obliged to return with his conductor. He first led a hermitical life in the mountains near Frejus. Two small islands lie in the sea near that coast; on the smaller, now known as St. Honoré, our Saint settled, and, being followed by others, he there founded the famous monastery of Lerins, about the year 400. Some of his followers he appointed to live in community; others, who seemed more perfect, in separate cells as anchorets. His rule was taken from that of St. Pachomius.

Nothing can be more amiable than the description St. Hilary has given of the excellent virtues of this company of saints, especially of the charity, concord, humility, compunction, and devotion which reigned among them under the conduct of our holy abbot. Once during Mass, as Honoratus prayed the words of consecration, he experienced a vision of the hand of Christ holding the Host.

Honoratus was, by compulsion, consecrated Archbishop of Arles in 426, and died, exhausted with austerities and apostolical labors, in 429. He is the patron saint of bakers and confectioners. A miracle, witnessed by many in Amiens, occurred in a church where the body of Honoratus was brought for veneration by the faithful. The day Honoratus’ remains were to return to the cathedral, those present beheld the corpus of a church crucifix bow toward the saint's body as it was carried out.

Adapted excerpt from Lives of the Saints, Father Alban Butler, 1894 edition.

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