Germanus of Auxerre, St
Germanus Of Auxerre, St., one of the most striking figures in the period of the fall of the Roman empire, was born in Auxerre, in Roman Gaul, of illustrious parents, about A.D. 380. He was placed in the best schools of Gaul, and having finished his early educatian, he went to Rome, to pursue a course of civil law and study eloquence. His merit, and his marriage with a lady of high rank, brought him into notice at the court of the emperor Honorius, and procured for him, besides the government of Auxerre, the office of duke or general of the troops of several provinces. Although a Christian, he was a skillful hunter, sand was in the habit of hanging on a large tree, in one of the public squares, the heads of the animals he had killed. This custom bearing some resemblance to pagan superstitions, St. Amatorius, bishop of Auxerre, one day, when the duke was absent, caused the tree to be cut down, and the monuments of his vanity to be removed. Germanus suffered this correction with impatience, and threatened to be revenged, but God ordered it otherwise. Amatorius was advanced in years, and discerning in Gemmaseus such qualities as were, calculated to make a great bishop, he convoked in his church an assembly of the faithful, and Germanus being present, he seized on him, and compelled him to assume the ecclesiastical habit, without giving him time to reflect, and informed him that he was to be his successor. On the death of Amatorius, May 1, 418, Germanus was elected bishop by the clergy and people. From that time he was completely changed. He practiced his episcopal duties to their fullest extent. The Christians of Great Britain, frightened at the progress of Pelagianism in their island, had applied to pope Celestine and the bishop of Gaul to obtain aid, and they, in an assembly held in 428-9, sent them Germanus, with whom they joined Lupums, bishop of Troyes. Both set off instantly. This mission had great success at the time, but Pelagianism reappeared seventeen or eighteen years afterwards, and Germanus went again with Severus, bishop of Troyes, to extirpate it. To prevent its return, Germanus established schools in Britain, which afterwards became celebrated. He had scarcely arrived again at Auxerre, when the Armoricans entreated him to mediate for them with Evaricus, who had been sent by Etius to chastise them for an imputed rebellion. Germanus set out immediately, saw the prince of the barbarians,. and succeeded in arresting his march. As this affair could not end without the consent of the emperor, Germanus went to Ravenna, where the court was then held: he was received with great honor by Placidia, mother of Valemetinian III. This work was the last which the holy bishop undertook. He died in Ravesna, on the 31st of July, 448, after having been thirty years bishop of Auxerre. He is commemorated as a saint on the 31st of July. — Hook, Eccl. Biog. 5:303; Smith, Relig. of Anc. Briton, page 168; Neander, Light in Dark Places, pages 50-54; Baillet, Vies des Saints, July 3.