Saint of the Day – 23 April – Saint Gerard of Toul (c 935–994) Bishop of Toul, France, from 963- his death in 994 – born in c 935 at Cologne, Germany and died on 23 April 994 in Toul, France, of natural causes. Patronages – Toul and Gérardmer, France.
Gerard was born circa 935 in Cologne to the nobles Ingranne and Emma and was known for his piousness and he was educated in Cologne. It is believed that he entered the priesthood after lightning struck his mother and killed her, which he believed to be divine judgement for his sins. However, he had been a pious youth and it is thought that his sins could not have been very serious ones. Upon his Ordination he became the Canon for the Cologne Cathedral.
It was at this time that Toul had great independence under its Bishops and Gerard himself, proved to be a successful and a respected leader, after he was appointed as the Bishop of Toul (3 March 963) and consecrated (the following 19 March in Trier). The Archbishop of Cologne, St Bruno the Great, the brother of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, on behalf of Pope John XII – appointed him to the Toul Diocese.
As Bishop, he established religious schools in the Diocese and he invited European scholars, to teach at the schools. He rebuilt churches and the notable example to this is the Toul Cathedral which he himself consecrated in 981. Gerard also founded a convent for nuns. His great humility led him to avoid meeting with Emperor Otto II, who desired to have the Bishop close to him as an adviser.
The “Vita Sancti Gerardi” states that he had the relics of both Saint Mansuetus and Saint Aprus – earlier Bishops of the Diocese – brought and placed in the church of Saint John the Baptist. He is said to have come up with the use of “herb Gerald” (goutweed) which was used in the Middle Ages to treat gout. Gerard also fought against secular political intervention in ecclesial matters and invited Monks from Ireland to come to his schools to teach. His personal devotions were centred on the study of Sacred Scripture and the lives and teachings of the saints.
He died during the night on 23 April 994 and was interred in the Diocesan Cathedral of Toul in the choir loft. His reputation for holiness was evident in his life and miracles at his tomb, were recorded after his death. Pope Leo IX – a successor as Bishop of Toul and later Pope – Canonised him on 21 October 1050 in Rome.