Brice of Tours
Saint Brice and Saint Martin of Tours
|Born||c. AD 370|
|Venerated in||Eastern Orthodox Church|
Roman Catholic Church
Brice was a contemporary of Augustine of Hippo and lived in the time of the Council of Ephesus. Gaul was part of the Roman Empire, where Christianity was the official state religion since the end of the 4th century, and was in the process of advanced Christianization. However, the Western Roman Empire was already very close to collapse, and in the course of the migration of peoples in the fifth century, various Germanic empires formed; the time was politically rather uncertain.
According to legend, Brice was an orphan. He was rescued by Bishop Martin and raised in the monastery at Marmoutier. He became Martin's pupil, although the ambitious and volatile Brice was rather the opposite of his master in temperament. Brice became a monk and later, Martin's archdeacon.
In one account, when Martin prophesied that Brice would become his successor as bishop, but would have many difficulties, the clerics of Tours, where the thought of such a bishop did not arouse enthusiasm, asked Martin to send the troublemaker away; but Martin replied: "If Jesus could come to terms with Judas, then I can certainly come to terms with Brice."
When Martin died in 397, Brice succeeded him as Bishop. As Bishop of Tours, Brice performed his duties, but was also said to succumb to worldly pleasures. He was repeatedly accused of secular ambition, and various other mistakes during this time, but Church official investigations each time released him.
In the thirtieth year of his episcopate, a nun who was a washerwoman in his household gave birth to a child that owing to calumny, was rumored to be his. He submitted to a ritual of carrying hot coals in his cloak to the tomb of St. Martin, showing the unburned cloak as proof of his innocence. The people of Tours, however, did not believe him and forced him to leave Tours or be stoned by them. He could return only after he had travelled to Rome and been absolved of all his sins by the Pope.
After seven years of exile in Rome, Brice returned to Tours, completely exonerated by the pope. During his absence several other bishops had been appointed to Tours; but when he came back, the last of them had just died and Brice resumed his duties. He served with such humility that on his death seven years later he was venerated as a saint.
Brice is described in various biographies as a controversial figure. Church historians see in the various relevant legends an expression of the tensions between the regular clergy and the secular priests in Tours at that time. His bones were transferred by Gregory of Tours to Clermont and are now in the church of San Michele in Pavia. Churches were named after him.
His memorial day is 13 November. The killing of the Danes in England on 13 November 1002 is called the St Brice's Day massacre.
St. Brice is depicted as a bishop, with glowing coals in his robe or with a baby in his arms.
- Also scribed as Bricius, Britius, Brixius, Briktius, or Briccius.
- Gregory of Tours, "History of the Franks": "De episcopis Turonicis" ("On the bishops of Tours")
- Monks of Ramsgate. “Brixius”. Book of Saints, 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 7 September 2012. Web
- Butler, Alban. "Saint Brice, Bishop and Confessor". Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 November 2013
This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- St Brice's Day Massacre (Britain under one roof)
- Cavendish, Richard (November 2002). "The St Brice's Day Massacre". History Today. 52 (11): 62–63.
- "November 13th". thebookofdays.com. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
- Sulpicius Severus: Dialogi III, 15 (online)
- Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks Book II Chap.1