Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume VI: June. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Lifard, Abbot
HIS illustrious birth, the progress he had made in the study of the laws, and his extraordinary probity and piety qualified him for one of the first dignities in the magistrature of Orleans. The constant attendance he gave to all the duties of his charge was no hinderance to his devotions, either public, in assisting at all parts of the divine office, or private, in his closet; especially to his assiduity and fervour in frequenting the sacraments. To be more at liberty, and to disengage himself from the distractions of the world, in the fortieth year of his age he resigned his charge, and initiated himself in an ecclesiastical state: nor was it long before the bishop of Orleans ordained him deacon. We may easily imagine with what piety and devotion he acquitted himself of all the sacred duties of his state. So perfectly was he penetrated with respect and awe of the majesty and presence of God, and with love of his goodness, when he assisted at the celebration, that he appeared like an angel about the altar. The spirit of love and penance and holy contemplation daily growing stronger in his heart, he resolved to withdraw himself entirely from the world, and bury himself in close solitude. The place he chose for this purpose was near the river Maulve, not far from the mountain and castle of Mehun or Meung, situated on the Loire, a little below Orleans.1 Urbicius, his disciple, bore him company, and they built themselves an hermitage of twigs and rushes. The life which the saint here led was admirable. A little bread and water was all the subsistence he allowed himself, in sickness as well as in health, and his only garment was made of sackcloth. He often passed whole nights in prayer, and in all his employments his mind was so taken up on God as if he had lived without a body. Mark, bishop of Orleans, then lived at Cleri, two leagues below the city, famous for the collegiate church of the Blessed Virgin, still much resorted to by pilgrims to implore her intercession.2 This prelate was an eye-witness to the great virtues of St. Lifard, whose hermitage was very near his residence, ordained him priest, and allowed him to found a monastery on the spot where his hermitage stood. This happened before the fourth council of Orleans, in which bishop Mark subscribed in 541. St. Lifard soon assembled a numerous community, and was to it a bright model of Christian perfection. An extraordinary gift of miracles drew on him the admiration of men. The year in which he died is not known; but it was some time after the middle of the sixth century. His body was buried at Mehun; and over his tomb was built, first a chapel, afterwards a famous collegiate church, which is to this day enriched with his relics, and bears his name. A church in the city of Orleans, and several others in the diocess, are dedicated to God under his invocation. His name occurs in the Roman Martyrology. See his life in Surius and Mabillon, sæc. 1; Ben. also Saussaye, Annal. t. 3.
Note 1. Mehun in Orleanois is by mistake confounded by several with Mehun in Berri, four leagues from Bourges, where was a royal castle now falling to ruin, in which Charles VII., who had recovered France from the English, suffered himself to die of hunger for fear of being poisoned, in 1461, not Charles V. as Dom Vaissette mistakes. [back]
Note 2. The marble tomb of Lewis XI. who chose to be buried there out of devotion to the B. Virgin, is still shown there, though the Huguenots plundered it, and burnt his bones. [back]