Nicaise, St (2)

Nicaise, St. (2), of Rheims, a Roman Catholic bishop and a Christian martyr, famed especially for his eloquence, was of Gallic origin, and is presumed to have been a native of Rheims. The time of his birth is not known. He flourished in the 5th century. Even the date of his accession to the episcopal seat of his native place is unknown. It is only certain that he was the immediate successor of Severus. Flodoard reports that he founded at Rheims the first church in honor of the Holy Virgin, and that he transferred to it at the same time the seat of the bishopric, which was in the church of the Holy Apostles. The year 401 is fixed for the construction of this new cathedral, which Nicaise consecrated by the shedding of his blood when, several years after, the Vandals took and sacked the city of Rheims. When the barbarians appeared before the city to besiege it, Nicaise boldly exhorted his flock to the defense, preaching at the same time repentance and submission to the will of God. When the Vandals had refused all terms of agreement, and by force had made themselves masters of Rheims, Nicaise boldly went to meet them upon the threshold of his cathedral, attended by his clergy and singing hymns. They had no regard either for his character or his supplications in favor of the people who surrounded him, and after making him suffer many outrages they beheaded him. The beauty of Eutropia, his sister, who was near him, appeared to disarm the barbarians; but the Christian virgin, fearing more their love than their hatred, excited herself the fury of her brother's executioner, and also received the martyr's crown. Several persons of the clergy and of the people were also put to death, and among this number several distinguished ecclesiastical students. St. Nicaise and his companions were buried in the cemetery of the church of St. Agricolus, which then took the name of the martyr bishop. It is an error of Flodoard. Followed by several other authors, who has made St. Nicaise contemporaneous with St. Lupus, bishop of Troyes, and with St. Aignan, bishop of Orleans. The latter prelates lived at the time of the invasion of the Huns, under the conduct of Attila, in 451, and not the irruption of the Vandals in 407. Besides, Flodoard seems to hesitate upon the time of the martyrdom of St. Nicaise; for his text bears, Sub eadem Vandalorunm vel Hunnorum persecutione. The death of St. Nicaise and his companions is commemorated by the Roman Catholic Church on December 14. See Gallia Christiana nova, tom. ix; Flodoard, Historia-Ecclesiae Remensis; Dom Marlot, Metropolis Remensis historisa; Fisquet, France pontificale Breviaires de Paris et de Rheirms; Hoefer, Noun. Biog. Generale, 27:914; Clemenl, Hand-book of Legendary and Mythol. Art, p. 233.

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