Home  »  Volume VIII: August  »  St. Merri, or Medericus, Abbot

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

August 29

St. Merri, or Medericus, Abbot

HE was nobly born at Autun, in the seventh century, and from his infancy turned all his thoughts towards virtue. In his childhood he disdained the ordinary amusements of that age, and in all his actions considered the great end of human life the sanctification and salvation of his soul. That he might wholly attend to his only affair without distraction, when he was but thirteen years old, he so earnestly desired to embrace a monastic life, that his parents, who at first violently opposed his vocation, overcome by his importunities, presented him themselves to the abbot of St. Martin’s in Autun. In that monastery then lived fifty-four fervent monks, whose penitential and regular lives were an odour of sanctity to the whole country. Merri, in this holy company, grew up in the perfect exercise and habits of every virtue, especially humility, meekness, charity, obedience, and a scrupulous observance of every point of the rule. Being, in process of time, chosen abbot, much against his own inclinations, he pointed out to his brethren the narrow path of true virtue by example, walking before them in every duty; and the great reputation of his sanctity drew the eyes of all men upon him. The dissipation which continual consultations from distant parts gave him, and a fear of the dangers of forgetting himself, and falling into the snares of vanity, made him resign his office, and retire privately into a forest four miles from Autun, where he lay hid some time in a place called, to this day, St. Merri’s cell. He procured himself all necessaries of life by the labour of his hands, and found this solitude sweet by the liberty it gave him of employing his whole time in the exercises of heavenly contemplation, prayer, and penitential manual labour. The place of his retreat having at length become public, he was obliged to return to his monastery; but after having edified his brethren some time, and strengthened them in the maxims of religious perfection, he again left them, in order to prepare himself the better for his passage to eternity. He came to Paris with one companion called Frou or Frodulf, and chose his abode in a small cell adjoining a chapel dedicated in honour of St. Peter, in the north suburbs of that city; where, after two years and nine months, during which time he bore with astonishing patience the fiery trial of a painful lingering illness, he happily died about the year 700. He was buried in the above-mentioned chapel, upon the spot where now a great church bears his name, in which his relics are placed in a silver shrine over the high altar. He is named in the Roman Martyrology. See his anonymous life in Mabillon’s acts of saints of the Order of St. Bennet, and Stilting the Bollandist, t. 6, Augusti, p. 518.  1