Saint of the Day – 5 July – Blessed Elias of Bourdeilles OFM (c 1423-1484) Archbishop of Tours and Cardinal, Defender of the Church against the State and a political prisoner because of it, devout son of St Francis of Assisi, living a life of poverty and caring for the poor. Born in c 1423 at Périgord, France and died on 5 July, 1484, at Artannes near Tours, France of natural causes. Also known as – Elie, Hélie.
You know enough about Saint Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) to understand that she was a victim of international politics and rival patriarchal systems. Within twenty-five years of her death, Pope Callixtus III concluded an inquiry with a declaration of her innocence and Martyrdom. One of the advocates who worked on the report that vindicated her was a Bishop named Elias of Bourdeilles.
Elia was the son of the Viscount Arnaud de Bourdeilles and was born at the Castle of Bourdeilles in Périgord,
Having entered the Franciscan Order at an early age, he was only twenty four years old when, at the request of King Charles VII, he was appointed to the See of Périgueux in 1447.
During the wars between France and England he was held prisoner for several years by the English, in consequence of his defence of ecclesiastical immunity.
In 1468 he was appointed to the Archepiscopal See of Tours and in 1483 he was raised to the Cardinalate by Pope Sixtus IV.
He was a devout Franciscan and he lived in personal poverty and used the Church’s available resources to aid the poor. Elias was an intimate friend of St Frances of Paola.
He is mentioned among the Blessed in the Franciscan Martyrology for the 5th day of July. A stanch defender of the rights of the Church against the encroachments of the State, Cardinal Elias advocated the abolition of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, as may be seen from his treatise, “Pro Pragmaticæ Sanctionis Abrogatione” (Rome, 1486). He also wrote “Libellus in Pragmaticam Sanctionem Gallorum” (Rome, 1484) and a Latin defence of Jeanne d’Arc which is attached in manuscript to the process of her rehabilitation.