Saint of the Day – 20 February – Saint Eucherius of Orléans (c 687-743) Bishop Orléans, Benedictine Monk, Confessor – born at Orleans, France and died on 20 February 743 at the monastery of Sint-Tuiden in Belgium of natural causes.
St Eucherius was born in Orleans, France. He was very pious in his youth as he received a Christian upbringing and he was also highly educated.
A sentence from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians made a big impression on him – “This world as we see it is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31). It made Eucherius realise that our lives on this earth are very short and that heaven and hell last forever. He decided to seek the joys of heaven by living for God alone.
In 714, St Eucherius left his rich home and entered a Benedictine abbey as a monk. There, he spent seven years in close union with God. After the death of his uncle, the bishop of Orleans, the people asked for Eucherius to take his place.
Eucherius was then only twenty-five and he was very humble. He did not want to leave his beloved abbey. With tears, he begged to be allowed to remain alone with God in the monastery. But finally, he gave in for love of obedience. Eucherius became a holy, wise bishop and did much good to his priests and people.
A powerful man Charles Martel sold some of the Church’s property to support his wars. Because Bishop Eucherius told him that was wrong, when Charles won the war, he had Eucherius taken prisoner.
He was sent away to Cologne in Germany. The people there greeted him with joy and he was given the job of distributing the governor’s alms. Later he was transferred to a fort near Liege.
But the governor in whose charge Martel had placed the Bishop was touched by Eucherius’ meekness toward his enemies. Some time later, the governor quietly released the bishop from prison and sent him to a monastery. Here, the saint spent all his time peacefully in prayer until his death in 743.
Archbishop Hincmar of Reims reported to a Council of Quierzy in 858, a vision that Bishop Eucherius of Orléans had seen during the reign of King Pepin III over a century before. While at prayer, Eucherius had been taken up and shown, among other things, the sufferings of those in hell, among whom he saw Charles Martel. When the vision ended, he called St Boniface and Fulrad, Abbot of Saint-Denis and sent to them to see whether Charles was in his tomb. When the two opened the tomb a dragon rushed out and they found the tomb’s interior blackened as though burned. These two signs were taken as evidence that the vision had been accurate and that Charles had been condemned to hell for his despoliation of Church property.
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