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

July 28

St. Sampson, Bishop and Confessor

HE was a child of prayer, and was born about the year 496, of noble parentage, in that part of South Wales which is now called Glamorganshire, then in the country of the Demetes, upon the borders of the Wenetes, who inhabited the province called by the Britons Guent, now Monmouthshire. At seven years of age he was put under the care of St. Iltutus, a very learned abbot in Glamorganshire, and having made great progress in learning and virtue, was ordained priest by St. Dubritius, bishop of Caërleon. In 512 he passed into a neighbouring island, where he led an eremitical life, as did several others, under the direction of St. Piro, a holy priest. By an order of SS. Dubritius and Iltutus he paid a visit to his aged father who lay dangerously ill. The saint restored him by his prayers to his health, and converted him and his whole numerous family, including his uncles, cousins, and brothers, whom he placed in several monasteries, but his father and an uncle of his own community of hermits. In 516 he made a voyage into Ireland, to animate himself to fervour by the example and instructions of many illustrious saints who flourished there, and after his return shut himself up in a cave in a wilderness. In 520 St. Dubritius called him to a synod at Caërleon, and in it ordained him bishop without being fixed in any particular see. St. Sampson continued his former austere manner of life, abstaining wholly from flesh, sometimes eating only once in two or three days, and often passing the whole night in prayer standing, though sometimes when he watched the night he took a little rest, leaning his head against a wall. To gain souls to God by the exercise of the ministry with which he saw himself intrusted, he passed over into Brittany in France, with his father and his cousin St. Magloire, and was followed by St. Maclou or Malo, another cousin. St. Sampson there converted many idolaters, raised a dead man to life, and wrought many other miracles. He founded a great abbey, which he called Dole, 1 and fixed there the episcopal see which was before subject to Quidalet, now St. Malo’s. This see of Dole long enjoyed a metropolitical jurisdiction over all the bishops of Brittany. 2 He subscribed to the second council of Paris, held in 557, in the manner following: “I Sampson, a sinner, bishop, have consented and subscribed.” He used to have a cross carried before him, as is the custom of archbishops at present. He died about the year 564. A considerable part of his relics was translated to Paris, with those of St. Magloire and St. Maclou, in the tenth century, for fear of the inroads of the Normans. See his life in Mabillon, Act Bened. t. 1, p. 176, and Solier the Bollandist, t. 6, Jul. p. 568.  1
Note 1. Dole in the old British language signifies a low fruitful plain. [back]
Note 2. Tours, which was the metropolis of the province of Armorica under the Romans, enjoyed, from the time of St. Martin, the metropolitical jurisdiction over Mans, Angers, and the nine bishoprics of Brittany. Sampson the Elder, bishop of York, being expelled by the Saxons, came into Armorica, and founded the see of Dole, in which he exercised a metropolitical jurisdiction, which King Howel or Rioval obliged him to assert, because these Britons were an independent people, separate from the Gauls. Sampson’s two successors, St. Turiave and St. Sampson, enjoyed the same. The contest between Tours and Dole was not finished till Innocent III. in 1199, declared Dole and all the other bishoprics of Brittany subject to the Archbishop of Tours. See D. Morice, Hist. de Bretagne, p. 17, &c. [back]