Pretextatus, St

Pretextatus, St.

a Gallic prelate of the 6th century, occupied towards 555 the metropolitan see of Rouen, and was godfather to Mérovée, the second son of Chilleric. Towards 576 Brunehaut, the widow of Sigebert, was exiled to Rouen by Chilperic, who was under the influence of Frédégonde. Mérovée, who was in that city, fell violently in love with the charms of the queen of Austrasia, his aunt, and Pretextatus was induced to grant a dispensation for their union, and married them. At this intelligence Chilperic repaired to Rouen, transported with wrath, and ordered the bishop to be arrested. A council assembled at Paris in 577, and in spite of the exertions of Gregory of Tours, who ventured alone to defend him, Pretextatus was deposed by the vote of forty-four prelates. He was banished to the island of Jersey. where he devoted his time to prayer and study. In the meantime a creature of Frédégonde, the Gaul Melantius, was established in the episcopal see of Rouen. After the murder of Chilperic, September, 584, a deputation of the clergy and people of Rouen repaired to Jersey to request Pretextatus to resume the administration of his diocese. On the 5th of May an assembly of Frankish noblemen, held at Rouen, pronounced his rehabilitation. Frédégonde, who lived in a kind of retirement at Loiuviers, went often to Rouen; she found herself frequently face to face with the bishop, whom she accused of not showing her much deference. In her wounded pride she once let escape some threatening allusions to the past: Pretextatus improved the occasion to exhort her to repentance and reformation. The enraged queen avenged herself in a manner worthy of her past life. She, Melantius, and an archdeacon of the cathedral, gave two hundred gold dollars to one of the serfs of the domain of the church, and promised him his own emancipation and that of his wife and children, for the murder of Pretextatus. On Easter-Sunday, while in prayer at the foot of the altar, he was stabbed, and died an hour afterwards in a chamber contiguous to the church, whither a few of the faithful had carried him, and where Frédégonde, in the company of the dukes Beppolen and Ansowald, enjoyed the spectacle of his last moments, April 14, 586. Pretextatus had attended the third Council of Paris in 557, the second Council of Tours in 566, and the second Council of Macon in 585. During his exile he composed some writings, which have not reached us. His name is inscribed in the Martyrologium under the date of the 24th of February, although he did not shed his blood for the faith. See Gallia Christiana, t. 11; Pommeraye, Hist. des Archeveques de Rouen; Fisquet, France Ponfficale (not published). — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Géneralé, s.v.

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