Home  »  Volume IV: April  »  St. Richarius, or Riquier, Abbot

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

April 26

St. Richarius, or Riquier, Abbot

HE was born in the village of Centula, in Ponthieu. His pious parents had no worldly riches to leave him; but he was sensible how great an inheritance that of grace and virtue is. His youth was spent in the laborious occupations of a country life, which he sanctified by the motives of religion, and the practice of moral virtues: but God, by the following occasion, taught him its most perfect lessons. Two pious Irish priests, named Cadoc and Frichor, passing through that country, and being ill-treated by the people, Riquier entertained them and did them all the good offices in his power. They in requital taught him the maxims of perfect virtue; and God, in recompense of his charity, spoke, at the same time, inwardly to his heart in sentiments with which he had been unacquainted whilst he did not so seriously consider the great truths of religion. From that time he began to fast on barley bread strewed with ashes, drinking only water, which he often mingled with his tears, which he shed abundantly. He joined watchings to manual labour, and passed both the nights and days in prayer and holy meditation. Having prepared himself for holy orders, he was promoted to the priesthood. From that moment he considered himself as bound to live no longer to himself; and began to preach and to instruct the faithful with extraordinary zeal.—He came over into England to perfect himself in the science of the saints; but returned to preach the word of God in his own country. God every where crowned his zeal with wonderful success. King Dagobert I. desired to hear him preach; and the saint spoke so pathetically on the vanities of the world, that the king was exceedingly moved, and bestowed on him many presents. The saint employed them in the relief of the poor, and in founding the monastery of Centula, in the diocess of Amiens, which he began in 638. He some time after built a second, called to this day Forest-Montier, three leagues and a half from Abbeville. He lived an anchoret in the forest of Cressy, with one only companion, in perpetual contemplation and prayer; and in so great austerity, that he seemed almost to forget that he had a body. He died about the year 645. His relics are the chief treasure of his great monastery of Centula, now called St. Riquier. His name is famous in the French and Roman Calendars. See his life by Alcuin: likewise other memoirs in Mabillon and Henschenius.  1