St Britius of Tours
This information supplements the paragraphs in our Church
Gregory's Journal, November 2000 (Vol. V Issue 10):
St. Britius of Tours ~
Feast Day - November 13
In reading Holy Scripture
and the lives of the saints, we are reminded of how often God
takes sinful, fallen men whose lives have been anything but
exemplary and, through his merciful kindness, brings them to
repentance and change of heart so that others may revere them and
look to them for help toward sanctification. The thief on the
cross, through his penitent cry to our Lord Jesus Christ,
“Remember me in your kingdom” was forgiven by God, admitted to
Paradise, and is known to us as St. Dismas. The militant enemy of
the Church, Saul of Tarsus, was so converted by a vision of the
risen Christ that he became St. Paul, the great missionary and
teacher. For some, such as St. Britius of Tours, this
transformation of life came gradually through many years, and
sometimes through suffering great penance.
As a young man, Britius was sent to the
monks of the monastery at Marmoutier, near Tours, for his
education, and there he stayed to become a monk also. But this
young monk lacked humility and respect for others. The abbot of
the monastery was St. Martin, who was also Bishop of Tours and who
was loved and revered as a saintly man while still in this life.
But arrogant Britius was critical of the saint, calling him
“crazy” on some occasions and at other times accusing him of
falling into superstition. After each of these instances of
slander, Britius asked the saint’s forgiveness, but his tongue
was not long bridled.
Despite this sinful behaviour, Britius
progressed well in other ways. His studies were completed
successfully and he was ordained a deacon by Bishop Martin. He was
respected by his fellow monks and by the people of the surrounding
area as a capable leader. So it was not surprising when the aged
Bishop Martin predicted that Britius would succeed him as the
shepherd of the people of Tours and as the abbot of the monks of
Marmoutier. This happened upon the repose of St. Martin in the
Bishop Britius’ penance had just
begun. Although he was a good and loving leader of his people, his
sharp tongue and irascible demeanour was hurtful to some people
and they struck back at the bishop with false accusations. Just as
he had inflicted this pain upon St. Martin, Britius now had to
endure the verbal attacks of others. Remembering the admonition in
St. James’ Epistle, “If anyone among you thinks he is
religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own
heart, this one’s religion is useless” [James 1:26], Britius
began to soften his manner and to be more gentle in his dealings
But his worst penance was yet to come.
One of the ways in which Britius was completely above reproach was
in purity of body. He had taken the vow of chastity as a young
monk and had never violated that vow. But when he had been bishop
for 33 years, a woman who did laundry for the monastery accused
him of fornication, and the people rose up against him.
In an attempt to clear his name, Britius
appealed to the Patriarch in Rome and as he was travelling there,
the people of Tours elected a new bishop. Although the pope
eventually exonerated the him, Britius had been deposed from his
bishopric and remained in exile, lamenting his earlier sins.
Finally, after seven years, he returned to Tours and his
episcopacy on the death of the bishop who had replaced him.
God granted Britius seven more years in
this life and, with great energy and zeal, the bishop served him
faithfully and humbly. The much chastened and repentant saint fell
asleep in the Lord in the year 444.
Through all the centuries since then,
St. Britius has been remembered - not for his capable leadership,
sound teaching, or missionary endeavours - but for his repentance.
May St. Britius pray for us that we may also be repentant and
amend our lives to conform to God’s will.
[Sources: Oxford Dictionary of Saints, David Farmer;
Vita Patrum: The Life of the Fathers, by St. Gregory of Tours,
tr. Fr. Seraphim Rose.]
from Catholic Online Saints:
St. Brice was raised by St. Martin of Tours at Marmoutier and also
known as Britius. He became a vain, overly ambitious cleric, holding
Martin in great contempt. Despite Brice's attitude, Martin was most
patient with him, and in time, in great remorse, he asked Martin's
forgiveness for his attitude toward him. He succeeded Martin as Bishop of
Tours in 397 but reverted to his old ways, neglected his duties, was
several times accused of lackness and immorality. Though cleared of the
latter charge, he was exiled from his See. He went to Rome and in the
seven years of his exile there, repented and completely changed his life
style. When the administrator of his See, in his absence died, he returned
and ruled with such humility, holiness, and ability, he was venerated as a
saint by the time of his death. His feast day is November 13th.
in "Limited Edition" discussing patron saints and the churches
of Oxfordshire describes St Britius as follows:
Brice or Britius, of Brize Norton, was a fourth-century bishop of
Tours. He became so disliked because of his pride and ambition that
false accusations were made against him, and to prove his innocence, Brice
carried red-hot coals to the tomb of a former bishop, St Martin. This is
the only English dedication to St Brice.
There is a reference to St Britius, Bishop of Spoleto, in the second
century in an
on the Dioceses of Valva and Sulmona in Italy.
from an item of Festivals with a reference to the Danes in England.
("St. Brice"), pupil of St. Martin of Tours, and bishop as his
successor (A.D. 397-414). He was in early life a
gross sinner, converted by St. Martin; afterwards a victim of slander, and
driven for seven years from his see, but restored from 407 till his death.
On St. Brice's day (A.D. 1002) was perpetuated the
treacherous massacre of the Danes in England, by command of Ethelred, so
signally avenged by Swayn and Canute. -- November 13th
about St Britius as depicted in art:
In art Saint Brice carries hot coals in his vestments. Sometimes he is
pictured as (1) carrying fire in his hand; (2) with a child in his arms or
near him; or (3) with Saint Martin of Tours (because he was a disciple of
Saint Martin) (Roeder).
The only church dedicated to Saint Brice in the UK is Saint Britius in
Brize Norton, Oxfordshire
The item is accompanied by a picture of the church.
from an item witten by someone with Brice as his family name:
Origin of the name Brice:
(brīce), n. Celtic surname originating in Morayshire and Normandy
during the 11th century. From the latin Britius. Made popular
by St. Brice, successor to Martin of Tours.
"An orphan rescued by Saint Martin of Tours, and
raised by Martin's clerics.
Became so wild, wicked, proud, ungrateful, and disorderly that some
him possessed! He became a priest, but was a vain, ambitious one with
for Martin. Many advised Martin to kick him out, but Saint Martin said
Jesus could deal with Judas, he could deal with Brice. On Martin's death
Brice was designated to succeed him as bishop. However, the people of
diocese revolted, substituted a priest named Justinian, and Brice left
avoid a stoning. Justinan held the see for over 30 years, during which
to his senses, and began to lead a pious and admirable life. Formal
investigations cleared him of wrong doing, and he had the support of
When Justinian died c.430, Brice returned to Tours to claim his seat.
however, remembered him and his past, and ran him out of town again,
a priest names Armentius as bishop. When Armentius died in 437, Brice
to Tours again to claim his proper place, and this time, preceded by the
having led a better life during his 40 years of exile, he stayed and
diocese until his death. Died 444. ....."
in The Patron Saints Index
rescued by Saint Martin
of Tours, and raised by Martin's
Became so wild, wicked, proud, ungrateful, and disorderly that some
thought him possessed
by a demon! He became a priest, but was a vain, ambitious one with
contempt for Martin.
Many advised Martin
to kick him out, but Saint Martin
said that if Jesus could deal with Judas, he could deal with Brice.
death in 397,
Brice was designated to succeed him as bishop.
However, the people of the diocese
revolted, substituted a priest
named Justinian, and Brice left town to avoid a stoning.
Justinan held the see
for over 30 years, during which Brice came to his senses, and began to
lead a pious and admirable life. Formal ecclesiastical investigations
cleared him of wrong doing, and he had the support of Pope
Zosimus. When Justinian died c.430,
Brice returned to Tours to claim his seat. The locals, however,
remembered him and his past, and ran him out of town again, taking a priest
names Armentius as bishop.
When Armentius died in 437,
Brice returned to Tours again to claim his proper place, and this
time, preceded by the news of having led a better life during his 40
years of exile,
he stayed and governed his diocese
until his death.
444 at Tours of natural causes