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

December 5

St. Nicetius, Bishop of Triers, Confessor

ST. GREGORY OF TOURS has left us a great eulogium of this holy prelate. His parents placed him young in a monastery, where he made so great a progress in learning and piety, that his reputation reached the court. King Theodoric honoured him in a particular manner, and, in 527, obliged him to accept the bishopric of Triers. Theodebert, his son, had the same regard for the servant of God; but his successor, Clotaire II., offended at his zealous efforts in restoring discipline, unjustly banished him; but the saint’s exile continued but a very short time: for that prince dying, Sigebert, one of his sons, who succeeded him, in that part of his dominions, would not take possession of his kingdom till Nicetius was restored. The holy pastor’s great talents and zeal were displayed in the assiduity and extraordinary fruit of his preaching: the sanctity of his life, and the practice of all good works were rendered illustrious in the eyes of men by the gift of miracles, with which he was favoured. He assisted at the first and second councils of Clermont, in 535 and 549; at the fifth or great council of Orleans; at the second council of Paris, in 551, and assembled one at Toul in 555. Though he enjoyed the favour and protection of King Sigebert, his zeal failed not to raise new persecutions against him, without which a Christian cannot live in this world. But no human respects or fear could make him abandon the cause of God, and the true interest of souls. The extirpation of incestuous marriages in France was what cost him many difficulties; but God blessed his constancy and labours with success, both against vice, and against the Arian and Euthychian heresies. We have two letters which he wrote against those errors. 1 The first was written about the year 561, and addressed to Clodosindis, a Catholic princess, daughter to Clotaire I., married to Alboin, the Arian king of the Lombards. In this he exhorts her to endeavour to convert her husband to the Catholic faith, which he proves from the form of baptism, and from the miracles which were wrought in the Catholic church by the relics of saints, which the Arians themselves venerated. “Let the king,” (Alboin) says he, “send messengers to the church of St. Martin; if they dare enter it, they will see the blind enlightened, the deaf recover their hearing, and the dumb their speech; the lepers and sick are cured, and return home sound, which we see. What shall I say of the relics of the holy bishops Germanus, Hilary, and Lupus? at which daily so great miracles are wrought that we cannot recount them all; and the demoniacs are tortured, and confess their virtue. Do they do so in the churches of the Arians? They do not. One devil never exorcises another. What have you seen at the tombs of the bishops Remigius and Medard? You have heard from your grandmother, the good lady Clotildis, how she brought Clovis to the Catholic faith,” &c. Another letter the saint wrote to the Emperor Justinian, who had fallen into the error of the Incorrupticolæ, who maintained that the body of Christ in his mortal state was not passible, or subject to pain, alteration, &c., which was a spawn of Eutychianism. St. Nicetius tells him with an episcopal authority and zeal, that since he had published an edict commanding all bishops to subscribe his error, all Italy, Africa, Spain, and Gaul, anathematized his name. 2 Dom d’Acheri has published two other treatises of St. Nicetius; the first, on Watching in Holy Prayer, which he extols from the testimony of Isaiah, the Psalms, the example of Christ, SS. Peter and Paul, &c.; also from the advantages and necessity of fervent prayer, &c. The second is entitled, on the Good or Advantage of Psalmody, or singing the divine praises assiduously, and in common. 3 St. Nicetius died about the year 566. Many great men of the age wherein he lived bear testimony to the innocence of his manners and his extraordinary sanctity and miracles. 4 See St. Gregory of Tours, Vit. Patr. c. 17; Fortunat. l. 3, c. 9; D’Acheri, in Spicileg. t. 12, p. 209; Bulteau, Hist. Occid. t. 1, p. 120; Rivet, Hist. Littér. t. 3, p. 291.  1
Note 1. Conc. t. 5, p. 834, and Du Chesne, Hist. Franc. Scriptores Coætanei. t. 1, p. 853, Freher, Corpus Francicæ Historiæ, t. 1. [back]
Note 2. Conc. t. 5, p. 832. Du Chesne and Freher, ib. [back]
Note 3. Spicileg. t. 3, p. 9, &c. [back]
Note 4. Ap. Du Chesne, ib. pp. 851, 852, 863. [back]