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

December 12

St. Valery, Abbot

THIS saint was son to a gentleman of Auvergne, and in his childhood kept his father’s sheep; but out of an ardent desire of improving himself in spiritual knowledge, privately learned to read, and got the psalter by heart. He was yet young when he took the monastic habit in the neighbouring monastery of St. Antony. From the first day such was his fervour that in his whole conduct he appeared a living rule of perfection, and, by sincere humility, esteeming himself below all the world, he meekly and cheerfully subjected himself to every one. Seeking the most perfect means of advancing in the paths of all virtues, he passed from this house to the more austere monastery of St. Germanus of Auxerre, into which he was received by St. Aunarius, bishop of that church. The reputation of the penitential lives of the monks of Luxeu, and of the spiritual wisdom of St. Columban, drew him afterwards thither, and he spent many years in that community, always esteeming himself an unprofitable servant and a slothful monk, who stood in need of the severest and harshest rules and superiors; and, next to sin, he dreaded nothing so much as the applause of men or a reputation of sanctity. Upon the departure of St. Columban, the care of protecting the monastery from the oppressions of men in power, was committed to St. Valery, till he was sent by St. Eustasius with Vandolen, a fellow monk, to preach the gospel to idolaters. The two apostolic men travelled into Neustria, where King Clotaire II. gave them the territory of Leucone, in Picardy, near the mouth of the river Somme. There, with the leave of Bertard, bishop of Amiens, in 611, they built a chapel and two cells. St. Valery, by his preaching and the example of his virtue, converted many infidels, and assembled certain fervent disciples with whom he laid the foundation of a monastery. His fasts he sometimes prolonged for six days, eating only on the Sunday; and he used no other bed than twigs laid on the floor. His time was all employed in preaching, prayer, reading, and manual labour. By this he earned something for the relief of the poor, and he often repeated to others: “The more cheerfully we give to those who are in distress, the more readily will God give us what we ask of him.” The saint went to receive the recompense of his happy perseverance on the 12th of December, in 622. He is honoured in France on the 1st of April and on the 12th of December. From his cells a famous monastery rose, and a town which bears his name. His life was carefully written in 660, by Raimbert, second abbot of Leucone, from him. 1 See Mabillon, Act. Ben. t. 2, p. 76, and Annal. l. 11, n. 33. Gallia Christ. Vetus, t. 4, p. 887, Nova, t. 10, p. 1231, 1234.  1
Note 1. The work of Raimbert was abridged by an anonymous monk, by the order of an archbishop named Hugh. Rivet shows that this seems to have been Hugh, archbishop of Rouen from 722 to 730. The original is lost; but this abridgement, which Rivet proves to have been made with exactitude, (t. 3, p. 602,) is extant genuine in Mabillon (sæc. 5, Ben.) and the Bollandists, (ad 1 Apr. p. 14,) but in Surius (ad 1 Apr.) the style is altered. [back]