Saint of the Day – 5 March – St Virgilius of Arles (Died c618)Archbishop of Arles, Abbot, Papal Vicar in Gaul, Born in the 6th Century at Gascony, France and diedin c618 of natural causes at Arles. Also known as – Virgil, Virgile.
According to a Vita written in the eighth Century, he was born in a village of Aquitaine, France. He was educated at the Lerins Monastery on the Island of Saint Honorat. After his studies there, he entered the same Monastery and became a Monk and then was appointed as the Abbot.
According to St Gregory of Tours, Virgilius later became the first Abbot of the Abbey of St Symphorian, at Autun. Later, Virgilius was appointed as the Bishop of Autun and then succeeding Lizier, he was appointed by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, as the Archbishop of Arles and as the Papal Vicar in Gaul.
In his zeal for the conversion of the numerous Jews whose trading attracted them to the area, Virgilius employed coercion. In 591, St Gregory the Great wrote to Virgilius, and to Theodore, Bishop of Marseille, praising their good intentions but recommending them to confine their zeal to prayer and preaching.
On 1 August 595, St Gregory extended to Virgilius, the title of Pontifical Vicar, granted to the Bishops of Arles by Pope Zosimus (519). This dignity effectively conferred upon him the position of acting as an intermediary between the Gallic Episcopate and the Apostolic See. At the same time, King Childebert was urged by the Pope to assist Virgilius in exterminating simony from the Churches of Gaul and Germania.
Gregory several times requested Virgilius (in 596 and 601) to extend a welcome to St Augustine of Canterbury and his Monks, whom he was sending to England. On another occasion he recommended, to his protection, a Monastery belonging to the Patrimony of the Roman Church, of which Lizier had taken possession. In a letter to Virgilius and to Syagrius, the Bishop of Autun, the Pope complains (July, 599) of their negligence in not preventing the marriage of a woman who, having embraced the religious life, had been violently given in marriage. In 601 Gregory advised Virgilius to assemble a Council against simony and to induce the Bishop of Marseilles to reform his house.
On 23 August 613, Pope Boniface IV sent the Pallium to Virgilius successor, Florian.