Saint Martial

Last updated
Saint Martial
La vie de saint Martial - Remise du baton de saint Pierre (detail) - Voutain est.JPG
Saint Martial receives the pastoral staff from Saint Peter.
Bishop
Died3rd century
prob. Limoges
Venerated in Eastern Orthodox Church, Roman Catholicism
Major shrine Shrine of St Martial in the church of St Michel des Lions, Limoges.
Feast June 30
Attributes episcopal attire

Saint Martial (3rd century), called "the Apostle of the Gauls" or "the Apostle of Aquitaine", was the first bishop of Limoges. His feast day is June 30.

Contents

Life

There is no accurate information as to the origin, dates of birth and death, or the acts of this bishop. According to Gregory of Tours, during the time of the Emperors Decius Pope Fabian sent out seven bishops from Rome to Gaul to preach the Gospel: Gatien to Tours, Trophimus to Arles, Paul to Narbonne, Saturnin to Toulouse, Denis to Paris, Austromoine to Clermont, and Martial to Limoges. He succeeded in converting the inhabitants to Christianity, and his memory has always been venerated there. [1]

Abbey

Sarcophagus of St Martial in the crypt below the Place de la Republique, Limoges Limoges Crypt 01 St Martial Sarcophagus.jpg
Sarcophagus of St Martial in the crypt below the Place de la République, Limoges

Martial died in Limoges and was buried outside the Roman town. As his tomb became progressively more important as a pilgrimage site, the monks found patronage in the Benedictine order in the 9th century. The site became the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Martial, a great library (second only to the library at Cluny) and scriptorium. The 12th-century chronicler Geoffroy du Breuil of Vigeois worked in its library. [2]

The abbaye de Saint-Martial, one of the great pilgrimage churches of western Christianity, was so thoroughly razed in the 19th century, that only the scattered manuscripts of its library remain. Some of said manuscripts had been bought for Louis XV and have come to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. The original crypt was exhumed in 1966–1970. Twelve Romanesque carved capitals were discovered built into the foundations of a barn and purchased in 1994 for the Museum of the Bishopric of Limoges.

Hagiography

Saint Martial cures the son of Arnulfus. La vie de saint Martial - Guerison de la fille d'Arnulfus - Voutain sud.JPG
Saint Martial cures the son of Arnulfus.

The Miracula Martialis , an account of 7th-, 8th- and 9th-century miracles, was written shortly after 854.

The influx of pilgrims to the abbey where the historical Martial lay buried encouraged the creation of an elaborate hagiography during the 10th century. As the hagiography grew, Martial was moved back in time: now, sent into Gaul by Saint Peter himself, he is said to have evangelized not only the Province of Limoges but all of Aquitaine. He performed many miracles, among others the raising of a dead man to life, by touching him with a rod that Saint Peter had given him. [1]

The mythology culminated in the 11th century forgeries of Ademar of Chabannes, The Life of St. Martial, attributed to Bishop Aurelian, his successor, which was designed to 'prove' that Martial had been baptized by Peter, was one of the seventy-two disciples and present at the Last Supper. [1]

In the 13th century compendium of lore, the Golden Legend , the legendary Martial appears with many miracles, casting out fiends and raising the dead and conducting mass baptisms. [3]

In the midst of a revival of his cult in the 14th century, 73 miracles were recorded between 1378 and 1388 in the Miracula sancti Martialis anno 1388 patrata .

As late as 1854, Mons. Buissas, Bishop of Limoges, petitioned Pope Pius IX to bestow on Martial the honors of a disciple of Christ, but was turned down. The full discovery of Ademar's tissue of forged documents, including an imaginary church council and a papal letter, was not revealed until the 1920s, and continued for several generations to be resisted in conservative Catholic circles.

Saint Martial also became associated with Saint Valerie of Limoges, a legendary martyr of the 3rd or 4th centuries, who is said to have carried her head to him after decapitation.

Veneration

His help was invoked during an epidemic of widespread ergot poisoning in Limoges in 994. [4] Martial was particularly honored in Bordeaux, where his pastoral staff was kept in the Basilica Saint-Seurin and used in processions to invoke his aid during outbreaks of pestilence. [5] He is also venerated in Italy, where Colle di Val d'Elsa Cathedral is dedicated to him.

The Cloisters has a 12th-century stained-glass window of "Saint Martial Founding the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre". [6]

St. Martial's chapel at the Papal palace in Avignon was used for deliberations during conclaves. [7] Saint-Martial Temple, a gothic church in Avignon was completed in 1402. [8]

Notes

Related Research Articles

Swithun 9th-century Bishop of Winchester

Swithun was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. His historical importance as bishop is overshadowed by his reputation for posthumous miracle-working. According to tradition, if it rains on Saint Swithun's bridge (Winchester) on his feast day it will continue for forty days. The name was originally spelt Swithhun.

Limoges Prefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Limoges is a city and commune, the capital of the Haute-Vienne department and was the administrative capital of the former Limousin region in west-central France.

Denis 3rd-century Bishop of Paris and saint

Denis was a 3rd-century Christian martyr and saint. According to his hagiographies, he was bishop of Paris in the third century and, together with his companions Rusticus and Eleutherius, was martyred for his faith by decapitation. Some accounts placed this during Domitian's persecution and identified St Denis of Paris with the Areopagite who was converted by Paul the Apostle and who served as the first bishop of Athens. Assuming Denis's historicity, it is now considered more likely that he suffered under the persecution of the emperor Decius shortly after AD 250.

Adémar de Chabannes was an eleventh-century French monk, a historian, a musical composer and a successful literary forger.

Bec Abbey Benedictine monastic foundation in Normandy, France

Bec Abbey, formally the Abbey of Our Lady of Bec, is a Benedictine monastic foundation in the Eure département, in the Bec valley midway between the cities of Rouen and Bernay. It is located in Le Bec Hellouin, Normandy, France, and was the most influential abbey of the 12th-century Anglo-Norman kingdom.

Gatianus was the founding bishop of the see of Tours. He was one of the "seven apostles of Gaul" commissioned by Pope Fabian to evangelize in the region.

Austromoine Bishop of Clermont

Stremonius or Saint Austremonius or Saint Stramonius or Austromoine, the "apostle of Auvergne," was the first bishop of Clermont.

The Peace and Truce of God was a movement in the Middle Ages led by the Catholic Church and the first mass peace movement in history. The goal of both the Pax Dei and the Treuga Dei was to limit the violence of feuding endemic to the western half of the former Carolingian Empire – following its collapse in the middle of the 9th century – using the threat of spiritual sanctions. The eastern half of the former Carolingian Empire did not experience the same collapse of central authority, and neither did England.

Rocamadour Commune in Occitanie, France

Rocamadour is a commune in the Lot department in Southwestern France. It lies in the former province of Quercy.

Saint Paul of Narbonne was one of the "apostles to the Gauls" sent out during the consulate of Decius and Gratus to Christianize Gaul after the persecutions under Emperor Decius had all but dissolved the small Christian communities. According to the hagiographies, Fabian sent out seven bishops from Rome to Gaul to preach the Gospel: Gatien to Tours, Trophimus to Arles, Paul to Narbonne, Saturnin to Toulouse, Denis to Paris, Austromoine to Clermont, and Martial to Limoges.

The Saint Martial School was a medieval school of music composition centered in the Abbey of Saint Martial, Limoges, France. It is known for the composition of tropes, sequences, and early organum. In this respect, it was an important precursor to the Notre Dame School.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Limoges

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Limoges is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. The diocese comprises the départments of Haute-Vienne and Creuse. After the Concordat of 1801, the See of Limoges lost twenty-four parishes from the district of Nontron which were annexed to the Diocese of Périgueux, and forty-four from the district of Confolens, transferred to the Diocese of Angoulême; but until 1822 it included the entire ancient Diocese of Tulle, when the latter was reorganized.

The Abbey of St Martial was a monastery in Limoges, France, founded in 848 and dissolved in 1791.

Lupus I was the Duke of Gascony and part of Aquitaine in the Merovingian kingdom during the 670s. He may have started a dynasty, since the next known duke of Gascony was Lupus II.

Valerie of Limoges Gallo-Roman saint

St Valerie of Limoges is a legendary Christian martyr and cephalophore, associated with the Roman period, whose cult was very important in Limousin, France, in the medieval period. She has been an important subject for Christian art since the middle ages and for porcelain figurines over several centuries.

Jordan of Laron was the Bishop of Limoges from 1023 until his death in 1051. He came from a family of well-connected lower nobility, the Laron clan of Noblac. His relative and namesake Jordan was the first Bishop of Poland.

Hildegar was the bishop of Limoges from 977. He was the son of Gerald, the viscount of Limoges, and Rotild. His elder brother, Guy, was the heir to the viscountcy by marriage to Emma, daughter of Gerald's predecessor, Ademar. Another brother was Geoffrey I, abbot of Saint-Martial de Limoges from 991 to 998. Hildegar was the "product of a family-run church".

Prudent de Narbonne was a Christian deacon who was martyred in Narbonne in what is now France in the 3rd century. He is venerated by the Catholic Church as a saint. His relics are said to have effected various miracles. They were found in a church in Narbonne and taken to Bèze Abbey in 883. They were held for safe keeping during the Norman invasions in the cathedral of Saint-Étienne de Dijon, then returned to the abbey. Later they were restored to Narbonne, and are held in an elaborate reliquary in Narbonne Cathedral.

The Miracula Martialis is the earliest collection of reports of miracles worked through the intervention of Saint Martial and thus a key piece of his then still growing hagiography. Written in Latin, it was first compiled in the late 7th or early 8th century and added to until shortly after 854. Its oldest recorded miracles took place in the 7th century.

The Miracula sancti Martialis anno 1388 patrata is a dossier of 73 miracles performed through the intercession of Saint Martial between 1378 and 1388. The Latin manuscript was found in the seminary of Nîmes by the Bollandists François Arbellot and Charles De Smedt, who edited and published it.