Saint of the Day – 11 August – St Géry of Cambrai (c 550 – 626) Bishop of Cambrai, Founder of Monateries, Churches and of St Géry Island off Belgium, Géry devoted himself to the fight against paganism, Miracle-worker – born at Trier, Germany and died in 626 of natural cause in Cambrai, Belgium. Also known as Gaugericus, Gaugerico, Gorik, Djèri, Gau. Additional Memorials – 18 November for the exhumation of his relics and 24 September for the translation of his relics. Patronages – prisoners, the healing of lepers and skin diseases, against diseases of cattle, consumption and deformities of the legs, Cambrai and the Archdiocese – in France, Brussels, Braine-le-Comte – in Belgium. From his gift of delivering captives, there is attached, his power to deliver the victims of the demon and the influences of ill-intentioned people. He is also the Patron Saint of many Churches in the regions of Cambrai, Bierne, Valenciennes and Arras, as well as in Belgium.
Géry was born to Roman parents, Gaudentius and Austadiola, at Eposium (present Carignan).
Tradition states that Bishop Magnerich, successor of Saint Nicetas as Bishop of Trie, was so impressed with the piety of the young man that he Ordained him as a Deacon but not before Géry had memorised the entire psalter. Magnerich entrusted Géry with the pastoral care of the city of Cambrai. Géry founded Churches and Abbeys, including a Monastery dedicated to St Medard, to host relics, which contributed powerfully to giving Cambrai both the appearance and functions of a city.
Around the year 580, Géry built a Chapel on the largest island in the Senne near Brussels. Saint-Géry Island is named after him.
When the see of Cambrai-Arras fell vacant around 585, Géry was elected Bishop with the consent of Childebert II. He was consecrated by Egidius, Bishop of Reims. Bishop Géry devoted himself to fighting paganism, ransoming captives and visiting rural districts and villages. He paid his respects to King Chlothar II, the new lord of Cambrai after the death of Childebert. Bishop Géry made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Martin in Tours and assisted at the Council of Paris in 614.
Géry also built a Church dedicated to Saint Martin, where he had relics of this Saint deposited. The steeple of this church was to become, much later, the belfry of the city. Having obtained pieces of the Holy Cross, Géry had a Church built to house them. Finally, he had an Episcopal palace built near his Cathedral. He transferred, between 584 and 590, the Episcopal see from Arras to Cambrai. Géry erected a Chapel (in Saint Michel , later Saints-Michel-et-Gudule Cathedral), which soon became a Church and gave birth to the city of Brussels.
After serving as Bishop for thirty-nine years, he died on 11 August 626 and was buried in the Church of Saint Médard, which he had founded at Cambrai. Veneration commenced immediately after his death. His reliquary is still on display in the south transept of the Saint Géry church in Cambrai.
St Géry is credited with many miracles, the healing of a leper, of a blind man and, during his travels through his Diocese, he freed many prisoners, criminals, children taken into slavery. It is said that he delivered his Diocese from a dragon.
When the Church of Saint Medard was demolished by the Emperor Charles V for the building of the citadel, the canons were removed and took with them, the relics of the Saint, to the old church of Saint Vedast, which from that time, has borne the name of Saint Gery. The Church of Saint Géry is one of the oldest in Cambrai and a listed historical monument since 1919.
His feast day is mentioned in the Martyrology of Blessed Rabanus Maurus for today, 11 August.