Saint of the Day – 6 January – St Felix of Nantes (c 515-584) Bishop of Nantes, Confessor, Evangeliser, Negotiator and peace-maker, Social reformer. Born in c 515 in the Aquitaine region of modern France and died on 6 January 584 of natural causes. Patronages – against famine, against the plague. Additional Memorial – 7 July (translation of relics).
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Nantes in Brittany, the memorial of Saint Felix, Bishop, who, in the service of his fellow citizens, gave testimony of his zeal, building the Cathedral Church and evangelising the rural populations relentlessly.”
Born in c 513 to a well-known family of Aquilani and was Ordained a Priest in 540. Felix was married but when, at the age of 37, he was made Bishop of Nantes, on the death of Evemer. his wife became a Nun. He then sold his patrimony donating the proceeds to assist he poor.
He immediately began to evangelise the region and trained young Priests as Missionaries to assist in his programme.
He built and Consecrated a Cathedral within the walls of the City, as planned by his predecessor, Evemer. His social and secular improvements at Nantes were praised in the poems of the Bishop of Poitiers, St Venantius Fortunatus.
He often mediated between the people of Brittany and the Frankish kings. Guerech II, Count of Vannes, plundered the Diocese of Rennes and Vannes and repulsed the troops which King Chilperic sent against him but, at the entreaties of Bishop Felix, withdrew his forces and made peace . By intervening in the political affairs of his time, he saved Maclavius from death, who was being persecuted by his brother Conone, Count of Vannes, who wanted to suppress him.
Felix was in attendance at the Council of Paris in 557 and the Council of Tours in 567.
Towards the end of his life Felix wanted to choose his nephew Burgundius as his successor but St Gregory of Tours, his Archbishop, who was against him (Felix had supported his rival Riculfo) refused to consecrate him, on the grounds that he was too young.
Felix died at the age of seventy, on 6 January 584 after 33 years of zealous service as Bishop of Nantes and was buried in the Cathedral which he had built and Consecrated.