Today, January 17, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Sulpicius the Pious (7th century, also known as Saint Sulpice), bishop of Bourges known for his holiness and charity. Saint Sulpicius, surnamed the Debonnaire, is remembered for his unfaltering love of the poor, and his generosity in spirit, service, and material goods.
Sulpicius was born the son of wealthy, noble parents in Vatan, France (in the Diocese of Bourges). Attracted to the Word of God from a young age, Sulpicius devoted himself to good works and the study of the Holy Scripture. He could be found caring for the poor, giving them his own food and clothing, much to the concern of his parents. Sulpicius renounced the idea of marriage and wealth, and committed himself to service of the Lord through serving those around him.
Sulpicius was ordained a cleric of the church of Austregisilus, Bishop of Bourges, and before long was appointed deacon. Finally, Sulpicius became director of the school, although did not serve in that post very long. Rather, Clotaire II, King of the Franks, summoned him based upon his reputation for holiness and piety. Once summoned, he was commissioned as the Chaplain of the Frankish armies.
In 623, when Bishop Austregisilus died, Saint Sulpicius was recalled to Bourges to fill the empty chair. From then on, he devoted himself fully to the spiritual needs of his diocese, re-establishing discipline amongst the servants of the Church, and establishing care for the poor and needy. Saint Sulpicius further strove zealously for the conversion of all those in the area, regardless of race or family origin.
In 626, Saint Sulpicius assisted at the Council of Clichy, a gathering aimed at evangelization and conversion. He further opposed King Dagobert in his ill-treatment of his people, successfully winning them rights and freedom. To this day, Saint Sulpicius is regarded as the liberator of the area.
Saint Sulpicius maintained an austere lifestyle throughout his days, and these only increased as he grew older. He resigned his bishopric late in life, and devoted himself to acts of mercy and charity. He retired to a monastery which he had founded near Bourges, and there died in 646. Many miracles have been reported at his tomb. The reports of miracles at his tomb in the basilica he had ordered built began soon after his death and the place has since become a place of pilgrimage.
That place, the basilica, where the memorable man of God is buried, is called Navis, because the port of ships is seen to be there. It is a most lovely place between two rivers with pastures and woods and vineyards in great number, with fields and rivers flowing between huge plains so that there, the inhabitants may be seen to possess the image of paradise.
The famous Saint-Sulpice Seminary in Paris is named after him.
|Church of Saint Sulpicius, Paris|
A Prayer for a Charitable Heart:
Keep me, O God, from pettiness; let me be large in thought, in word, in deed. Let me be done with fault-finding and self-seeking. May I put away all pretense and meet everyone face to face without self-pity and without prejudice. May I never be hasty in judgment and always generous. Let me take time for all things. Make me grow calm, serene and gentle. Teach me to put into action my better impulses, straightforward and unafraid. Grant that I may realize it is the little things of life that create differences and that in the big things of life we are one. And, O Lord God, let me not forget to be kind!