Saint of the Day – 16 December – Saint Everard of Friuli (c 815-867) Duke, Soldier and in contrast, peacemaker, a humble and loving Master with a social conscience, striving always to free serfs, wherever possible or at least to free them from their burdens and assisting the poor and needy in all their deprivations. Even during his life, Everard was loved and celebrated throughout the region and the Church. Born in c 815 in France and died on 16 December c 867 Also known as – Everard, Evrard, Erhard, Eberard, Everardus.
Everard was of noble birth and his father served in the Court of the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne before retiring to a Moonastery toward the end of his life.
As soon as his age permitted him to carry arms, Everard took part in numerous military expeditions. He was named Duke of Friuli and Count or Marquis de Trévise, in Italy. He defended his country against invasion by the Bulgars and managed to completely drive them from the peninsula. In this role as a young soldier, Evrard manifested both bravery and a deep purity of heart. A Biographer has noted of his life as a soldier:
“Everard has a reputation for being both a courageous soldier and able leader throughout these battles. In the tradition of Charlemagne, Evrard entreated the vanquished to convert to Christianity, meritoriously teaching them the Gospel, himself.”
He rendered service unto Louis the Pious, the Emperor after his father Charlemagne, that was still more distinguished. During the tragic years (830-839) where the Emperor had suffered the most undignified treatment, at the hand of his son’s revolt, Count Everard remained inviolably loyal to King Louis. He exercised his influence in Lothair’s sphere (the elder son of the Emperor) to bring about a reconciliation between father and son. It is certain that it was on his counsel in 839 that Lothaire went to Worms to implore the pardon of his father.
In return for his services, the Emperor ,Louis the Pious gave Count Everard the highest honour possible: the hand of his daughter, the Princes Gisèle, a woman of piety and virtue, in marriage. The devout couple used their wealth to relieve the poor and to found Churches, Chapels and later the French Abbey of Cysoing.
Everard organised his home in a way so perfectly, that it was more like a Monastery than a castle. He was seconded in this task by his pious wife, Gisèle, who dedicated herself to the education of their many children. The poor and ill were sure of finding not only security at Cysoing but also help and protection. The social question of the time, that of serfs, also preoccupied Saint Evrard. He had freed a good number. In their Will, he expressly refrained from impeding their liberty. He never forgot those who he had not freed and tried to improve their lives. Although he was a courageous and formidable Soldier, he worked all his life for peace. His private virtues were no less remarkable. In his elevated position, he strove to preserve modesty and humility, to avoid splendor and arrogance. His zeal for the glory of God, to spread the Truth, to convert the infidels, was celebrated throughout the Church. Also, his piety, his taste for ceremonies of worship, his devotion to the Saints and his respect for the precious relics, was apparent in his every act.
Everard and Gisela had three daughters and four sons – two of the latter became Abbots. A conscientious father, Everard gave much attention to his children’s religious and moral formation.
He had a special love for the relics of saints. For Cysoing Abbey, which he had dedicated to the Saviour and His |Blessed Mother and where Everard often prayed and sang with the Monks, he obtained from Rome, the body of Pope Saint Callistus I, which was thereupon carried from Italy to France on the shoulders of several Priests. Miraculous healings and reconciliations of enemies occurred along the route of this cortege.
In 867. Eberhard and his consort, meticulously recorded not only their lands and possessions within a prepared will, but the identities and relationships of family members and neighbouring royals. With the agreement of his spouse, Gisèle, Eberhard portioned his goods among his seven children. Although a layman, Everard was not only literate but possessed an extensive library, which is detailed in his will, in which he bequeathed a large number of religious objects, including vestments, thuribles, candlesticks, liturgical books and prayer books, one of which was a Psalter bearing his signature, that is now in the Vatican Library. Here is a translation of St Everard’s Will into English: http://turbulentpriests.group.shef.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/The-Will-of-Count-Eberhard-and-Gisela.pdf
Everard died on 16 December 867 and was later Canonised.