Saint of the Day – 28 March – Saint Guntramnus (Died 597) King of the Kingdom of Orléans and Burgundy from 561 until his death in 592, Confessor, Apostle of the needs of the Church and of the poor and sick, Penitent. Born in c 532 in Soissons, France and died on 28 March 592 (aged 59–60) at Chalon-sur-Saône, France. Patronages – of divorced people, guardians, reformed murderers. Also known as – Contran, Gontram, Gontran, Gontrano, Gontranno, Gunthrammus, Gunthramnus, Guntram, Guntrammo.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “At Chalons in France, the demise of St Gontran King, who devoted himself to exercises of piety, renounced the pomps of the world and bestowed his trasures on the Church and the poor.”
Guntramnus was the son of King Clotaire and grandson of Clovis I and St Clotilda but was raised without the Faith. Being the second son, while his brothers Charibert reigned at Paris and Sigebert in Austrasia, residing at Metz, he was crowned King of Orleans and Burgundy in 561, making Challons on the Saone, his Capital. When compelled to take up arms against his ambitious brothers and the Lombards, he made no other use of his victories, under the conduct of a brave general called Mommol, than to give peace to his dominions.
He protected his nephews against the practices of the wicked Dowager Queen, Brunehault of Sigebert and Fredegonde of Chilperic, the firebrands of France. He divorced his wife, Mercatrude; some time later she became seriously ill and when her physician could not cure her, he had the doctor murdered. These crimes are laid to his charge but upon his conversion to Christianity, he was so overcome with remorse for the acts of his prior life,that by tears of repentance., he sought to rmake reparation for his sins.
He governed his Kingdom, studying rather to promote the temporal happiness of others than his own, a stranger to the passions of pride, jealousy and ambition and making piety the only rule of his policy.
The prosperity of his reign, both in peace and war, condemns those who think that human policy cannot be modelled by the maxims of the Gospel, whereas nothing can render a government more flourishing.
He always treated the Priests of the Church with respect and veneration, regarding them as his fathers and honouring and consulting them as his masters. He was the protector of the oppressed and the tender parent of his subjects, whom he treated as his children. He poured out his treasures among them with a holy profusion, especially in the time of a pestilence and famine. He gave the greatest attention to the care of the sick.
He fasted, prayed, wept and offered himself to God night and day, as a victim ready to be sacrificed on the altar of his justice, to avert his indignation, which he believed he himself had provoked and drawn down upon his innocent people.
He was a severe punisher of crimes in his officers and others and, by many wholesome regulations, restrained the barbarous licentiousness of his troops but no man was more ready to forgive offences against his own person. He contented himself with imprisoning a man who, through the instigation of Queen Fredegonde, had attempted to stab him and he spared another assassin sent by the same wicked woman because he had taken shelter in a Church.
This good King died on the 28th of March, in 592, having reigned thirty-one years and some months. He was buried in the Church of Saint Marcellus, which he had founded.
The Huguenots scattered his relics in the sixteenth century, only his skull escaped their fury and is now kept there in a silver case.
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