Saint of the Day – 24 August – Saint Audoin/Ouen of Rouen (c 605-684) Bishop, Confessor, Evangeliser and Missionary, French official and adviser, writer, peace-makers and diplomat. Audoin was both Lord Chancellor of France and Officer of the Palace or Administrator. St Audoin was known for his personal austerities and support of many charities, he founded several Monasteries in his Diocese and sent Missionaries to the pagans in his see. Born in c 605 at Sancy, Soissons, France and died on 24 August 684 at Clichy, France of natural causes. Patronages – deaf people, invoked against deafness. Also known as Aldwin, Audaenus, Audeon, Audoeno, Audoen, Audoenus, Dado, Dadon, Owen.
Audoin came from a wealthy aristocratic Frankish family who held lands in the upper Seine and Oise valleys. His father was Saint Authaire (Audecharius). Audoin was a first cousin of Agilbert, Bishop of the West Saxons. He spent his childhood at Ussy-sur-Marne and was then sent to be educated at the Abbey of Saint-Médard de Soissons. From there, he went to the Court of Chlothar II (d.629), where training both military and literary was given to young noblemen. He served Dagobert I as one of his administrators.
He was part of a group of young Courtiers like Saint Wandrille and Saint Didier of Cahors and was a close friend of Saint Eligius, whose vita he wrote. He and Eligius served as royal envoys to persuade Amadus to baptise Dagobert’s son. According to Ian Wood, “…Audoin and Eligius were arguably the most influential churchmen in Francia during the seventh century.”
In 634 Audoin was Ordained a Priest by Dieudonne, Bishop of Mâcon. The following year, he and his brother, Ado and Rado founded Rebais Abbey, on land donated by King Dagobert. Audoin appointed his relative, Agilus, as first Abbot. He also took part in the founding of Saint-Wandrille Monastery in Rouen and a Nunnery at Fécamp. Fredegar reports that even as Court Administrator, Audoin had a reputation of being a religious man. He spent some time as a Missionary in Spain, during which a drought was ended through his prayers.
In 641 he succeeded Romanus as Bishop of Rouen. Through his influence, Erchinoald donated to Wandregisel the land for Fontenelle Abbey in Normandy. He developed theological studies and participated in the fusion of the rule of Saint Colomban and that of Saint Benedict.
During the regency of Queen Bathilde, Audoin became one of the first Counsellors of the queen. He was an adviser of Theuderic III and upheld the policy of Ebroin, the mayor of the palace. The Bishop’s position was strengthened, when Theuuderic confirmed to him the right to elect and approve the Count of Rouen.
Around 675 Audoin made a pilgrimage to Rome. There, he visited the sanctuaries, distributed alms to the poor of Rome and collected relics to bring back to Rouen. After Ebroin’s death in 681, he went to Cologne and succeeded in restoring peace between Neustria and Austrasia but died shortly thereafter, at the royal villa at Clichy on 24 August 684. He was buried in the Church of Saint Peter which he himself, had built. The former Abbot of Fontenelle, Ansbert, succeeded Audoin as Bishop and had his predecessor reburied behind the high altar, the equivalent of a Canonisation in those days. The Church in later rebuildings was named after St Audion/Ouen and is now one of the great artifacts of Architecture and is regarded as little less than the Notre Dame de Paris.
Audoin wrote a vita of his friend, St Eloi. This biography, which is one of the most authentic historical monuments of the seventh century, contains a store of valuable information regarding the moral and religious education of that time.
A poem on Audoin’s life was written in the 10th century by Frithegod but it is now sadly lost. The author of the Liber Historiae Francorum, thoroughly hostile to the memory of Ebroin, invariably referred to Audoin as “blessed” or “sainted” and in describing his death said, he “migravit ad Dominum” (migrated to the Lord), a phrase he otherwise reserved in the original part of his history, for the death of the “glorious lord of good memory, Childebert III, the just king.”