Saint of the Day – 20 August – Saint Philibert of Jumièges (c. 608–684) was an Abbot and Monastic Founder, particularly of Jumièges Abbey. Born in c 608 in Gascony, France and died in 684 on the island of Héri, France of natural causes.
He was born in Gascony as the only son of a Vic or Vic-Jour (now Vic-Fezensac) based courtier of Dagobert I and was educated by Saint Ouen. He later entered the monastery of Rebais as a monk and was promoted to abbot but his inexperience was too great for the position. He left and spent some time travelling round monasteries studying their Rules and constitutions.
In 654, Philibert received a gift of land from Clovis II on which he founded Jumièges Abbey. He drew up a Rule based on his studies for this and for his later foundations, drawing on several earlier Rules, including those of Benedict, Macarius, Basil the Great and particularly the strict rule of Columbanus. The monks’ chief work was the reclaiming of waste lands.
For a time Philibert lost the favour of Ouen and the royal family and was exiled. He withdrew to Poitiers and near Heriou founded the monastery of Noirmoutier, whereupon Ansoald, bishop of Poitiers, put his own foundation of Luçon Abbey under Philibert’s charge as well. When he regained the favour of his patrons, he founded other houses, including the monastery of Cunaut and the nunnery at Pavilly.
Philibert died and was buried at Heriou but in 836 the monks of Noirmoutier abandoned their home in the face of the Viking attacks to seek refuge on the mainland, in 875 finally settling with the relics of Philibert in the abbey at Tournus named in his honour, where the great church of St Philibert at Tournus still stands.
The filbert, or hazelnut, is said to have been named after him, since it ripens about 20 August in England, on his feast day the first fruits appear.