Reference > Rev. Alban Butler > Lives of the Saints > November
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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume XI: November.
The Lives of the Saints.  1866.
 
November 8
St. Godfrey, Bishop of Amiens, Confessor
 
GODFREY was born in the territory of Soissons, of noble and pious parents: his father, Fulco, was no sooner a widower than he consecrated himself to God in the monastic habit. Our saint was educated from five years of age, when he was weaned, in the monastery of Mount St. Quintin’s, under the care of the holy abbot, Godfrey, who was his godfather, and uncle to B. Ida, countess of Boulogne and Namur, and mother to Godfrey and Baldwin, the kings and conquerors of Jerusalem. The saint, in his youth always gave the better part of his meals to the poor, and sometimes did not make his appearance at all in the refectory, spending his time in some private oratory; and he often watched great part of the night in prayer. The streams of tears which frequently watered his cheeks at his prayers were proofs of the tender compunction and devotion of his soul. At twenty-five years of age, having made good proficiency in the sacred studies, he was ordained priest by the bishop of Noyon, though only obedience could overcome his fears of approaching the holy altar. Soon after he was chosen abbot of Nogent, in Champagne. Under his direction this house flourished in such regularity of discipline, that two abbots resigned their dignities to learn to serve God there more perfectly.  1
  The saint, by long habits of watchfulness over himself and mortification, was so perfectly master of his senses that no superfluous word or glance of an eye seemed ever to escape him, and his modesty and silence were the visible marks of his continual interior recollection. The cook having one day mixed a few crumbs of white bread with the herbs which he usually ate with only salt and water, he would by no means suffer that delicacy, saying: “Do not you know that the flesh rebels if it be not tamed?” When the Archbishop of Rheims and a whole council pressed the saint to take upon him the government of the great abbey of St. Remigius at Rheims, he started into the midst of the assembly, alleged the canons with great vehemence, and said: “God forbid I should ever contemn a poor spouse by preferring a rich one.” Some time after, in 1103, he was not able by his importunities to resist the violence with which he was installed bishop of Amiens. He entered that city barefoot, and, arriving at the church of St. Firminus, he first opened his mouth to his flock by a most pathetic sermon. His palace was truly the house of a disciple of Christ. Every day he served at his own table thirteen poor people, and washed their feet. To attend the most loathsome lepers seemed his greatest pleasure. He exerted an episcopal vigour and firmness in reproving obstinate and powerful sinners, and in reforming his clergy, and especially the monastery of St. Valery, though this work cost him a journey to Rheims, and another to Rome. When he celebrated the divine office at the court of Robert, count of Artois, held at St. Omers at Christmas, he refused to receive the offerings of all persons, though sovereign princes, who presented themselves with their hair effeminately curled; so that many were obliged to step out of the church to cut off their curled locks with a knife or sword, that they might not be deprived of the holy prelate’s blessing. As he was going to Rheims to confer with his metropolitan upon certain matters of importance, he was taken ill of a fever on the road; and, having received the holy sacraments, joyfully departed to our Lord on the 8th of November, in 1118, in the abbey of St. Crispin at Soissons, and was there interred. His name is honoured in the Roman Martyrology. See his life, written by Nicholas, a monk of Soissons, in the same century.  2
 
 
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