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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume I: January. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

January 9

St. Vaneng, Confessor

FROM various fragments of ancient histories of his life, the most modern of which was compiled in the twelfth century, it appears that Vaneng was made by Clotaire III. governor of that part of Neustria, or Normandy, which was anciently inhabited by the Caletes, and is called Pais de Caux, at which time he took great pleasure in hunting. Nevertheless, he was very pious, and particularly devout to St. Eulalia of Barcelona, called in Guienne St. Aulaire. One night he seemed in a dream to hear that holy Virgin and Martyr repeat to him those words of our blessed Redeemer in the gospel, that “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to be saved.” Soon after this, he quitted the world, assisted St. Vandrille in building the churches of SS. Peter and Paul at Fontenelles, and founded in the valley of Fécam 1 a church in honour of the holy Trinity, with a great nunnery adjoining, under the direction of St. Owen and St. Vandrille. Hildemarca, a very virtuous nun, was called from Bourdeaux, and appointed the first abbess. Under her three hundred and sixty nuns served God in this house, and were divided into as many choirs as were sufficient, by succeeding one another, to continue the divine office night and day without interruption. St. Vaneng died about the year 688, and is honoured, in the Gallican and Benedictin Martyrologies, on the 9th of January; but at St. Vandrille’s and in other monasteries in Normandy, on the 31st of January. This saint is titular patron of several churches in Aquitain and Normandy; one near Touars in Poictou, has given its name to the village of St. Vaneng. His body is possessed in a rich shrine, in the abbatial church of our Lady at Ham, in Picardy, belonging to the regular canons of St. Genevieve. See Mabillon, T. 2. p. 972. Bollandus, and chiefly the life of St. Vaneng, judiciously collected and printed at Paris in 1700. 2 Also the breviary of the abbey of Fontenelle, now St. Vandrille’s. The abbeys of Fécam, St. Vandrille, Jumiege, Bec, St. Stephen’s at Caen, Cerisy, &c. are now of the reformed congregation of St. Maur, abbot of St. Benignus, at Dijon, whose life Bollandus has given us among the saints, January 1. Fécam honoured by the dukes of Normandy above all their other monasteries, is the richest and most magnificent abbey in Normandy.  1
Note 1. The monastery of Fécam was ruined in the invasion of the Normans. Rollo, who came into France in 876, was baptized, and after having founded the duchy of Normandy, died in 917. His sepulchral monument is shown in one of the chapels near the door in the cathedral at Rouen. His son William built a palace at Fécam, where his son Richard was born. The church of the Holy Trinity being re-established, this Richard placed in it secular canons; but, on his death-bed, ordered it to be put into the hands of the monks. This was executed by his successor, the monks being sent by William the most holy abbot. [back]
Note 2. Ferrarius, an Italian servite, Du-Saussayè, Bollandus, and F. Giry, place among the saints of this day Sithride, or Sedredo, an English virgin, and second abbess of Farmoutiers. Bede tells us, (l. 3. c. 8.) that she was daughter of St. Hereswide, by a former husband, before she married Annas, king of the East-Angles, and that going to the monastery of Briè, (now Farmoutiers,) she was second abbess between St. Fara, and St. Aubierge, king Annas’s own daughter. But though St. Aubierge be honoured at Farmoutiers in July, with great solemnity, and St. Arthongate in February, the name of Sedredo is not found in the calendar of any church, nor are any of her relics enshrined like the others, unless she be the same with St. Sissetrudis, who, in some calendars is named on the 6th, in others on the 7th of May. But St. Sissetrude is called by Jonas of Bobio, cellerer, not abbess. See Chatelain, &c. [back]