Saint of the Day – 4 February – Saint Aventinus of Troyes (Died c538) Priest, Almoner and Administrator of the funds for the See of Troyes, Hermit, Miracle-worker., gifted with a great affinity with animals, who came to him for help when sick or hurt. Born in Bourges, France and died in c538 of natural causes. Patronages – headaches, nervous disorders, of sick animals, of Saint Aventin sous Verrières and the Town of Creney, France. Also known as – Aventin, Aventine.
In the heart of ancient Gaul (today’s France), in the second half of the fifth century, Saint Aventinus was born, probably in Bourges. From the few documents which have come down to us, we know that his parents belonged to the middle class and were very religious. According to tradition, Christianity in those lands already spread in the third century. The sound moral and Christian principles of the parents would form the basis of his holiness – from an early age, Aventinus was held up as a model.
As a teenager, he began to wonder about the purpose of his life. He wanted to visit the most famous holy manof that region, the Bishop St Lupus of Troyes who, in the year 451 had saved the city from the invasion of Attila the Hun, by offering himself as a hostage. The elderly prelate was not slow to see sincere Christian virtues in the young man and desiring to see them brought to fruition for the glory of the Lord and the Church and so, St Lupo kept him with him as a disciple and assistant. It was the happy meeting of two true men of God.
Aventinus distinguished himself by the humility and zeal with which he carried out the work; constant in the practices of piety, he was growing internally. He had as an example a Saint who continually turned his attentions to him. The virtue that shone most in him was charity towards others. Slavery of foreign prisoners of war was widespread in those days – St Lupus and Aventinus did not remain indifferent to the children of God who were treated like beasts. They ransomed as many as they could, collecting alms for this purpose. Given their freedom, they worried about their spiritual health, often helping them to approach the Sacraments. St Luuso died in 479 and was succeeded by St Camelianus, who, knowing well the virtues of Aventinus, made him Steward, with ample power to manage alms.
God only knows how widespread poverty was and Aventinus’ attention to the poor was never limited to material aid. He aroused amazement at the miraculous way the Bishop’s finances could cope with so many expenses, there was something supernatural at work. Aventinus fame went on spreading but he, keeping faith with his humility and with the deep regret of the Bishop, decided to retire.
He was welcomed into a hermitage with the will to sanctify himself by living in solitude. Although he was not inclined to lead, he was soon elected Superior of the community. Precious was his example and the retreat became a school of perfection. That place was later named after him.
While living withdrawn from the world, he could not help but think about the redemption of slaves. Among others, news reached him of a certain Fidolus, of rare virtues, perhaps already a cleric, originally from Auvergne, who had lost his freedom at the hands of Theodoric I, King of Austrasia. It was about the year 530. Aventinus ransomed him for twelve gold pieces. Fidolus’ happiness and gratitude was immense and he decided to join the holy community, which seemed a most natural development.
Meanwhile, Aventinus’ fame was spreading again among the people who often visited him. The tranquility of the brothers was compromised and Aventinus decided to leave. It was Fidolus himself who took over the position of Superior (he died with fame as a Saint on 16 May 540).
Aventinus withdrew to a solitary place along the Seine, about seven miles distant from Troyes. He had only brought with him some bread, legumes, a hoe and some seeds. He did not want to be a burden to anyone. Finally he had achieved the desired tranquility, dividing his time between prayer, work and penance. He slept little, wore a poor and rough dress, ate only three days a week.
A few years passed but even here he could not escape the admiration of the people, while not even the Bishop St Camelianus had forgotten about him. The latter, who also knew well of his knowledge of the Psalms and Sacred Scripture, conferred upon him Sacred Orders. The maturity of the years was crowned by the Priesthood. He lived peacefully the last period of his life celebrating Mass near his hut, for the benefit of the locals.
Demanding with himself, he looked to the needs of his neighbour with his big heart, also curing those who were sick. His charity became legendary and it is said that even a bear knocked on his door one night. He lay down on the ground and held out a paw in which a thorn was stuck. The hermit assisted him by releasing the thorn and bandaging his wound.
He fell asleep in the peace of the Lord on 4 February of the year 538. Acclaimed Saint and Patron of those places he had lived, a few years later Bishop Vincent had a Church built in his honour, where he placed his precious Relics and in which he then wanted to be buried. Chapels and Churches were erected in his honour, even outside France. From time immemorial he has been particularly invoked against headaches and nervous diseases. Today, near Troyes, a Town has his name (Saint Aventin sous Verrières) and Creney venerates him as Patron.
St Aventinus, Hermit and Priest, is not to be confused with the Aventinus, the Saint Bishop of Chartres, who died in 520, also venerated on today, 4 February.
Among the many graces
which the Lord grants through your intercession,
glorious Saint Aventinus,
frequent are the cures from headaches
and other nervous diseases,
of which you have been a singular protector
since time immemorial.
With all humility and trust
I resort to your patronage
and I ask you to obtain
from the Supreme Giver of all good,
health of mind and body
so that I may serve God with greater fervour
and attend to the duties of my state.
I ask you, not only for freedom from headaches
but also for the grace
to live as a studious emulator of your examples,
that I may one day attain eternal happiness,
where faith guides me
and hope invites me.
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