St. Jodoc, or Josse, Confessor
THOSE Britons who, flying from the swords of the English-Saxons, settled in Armorica in Gaul, upon the ruins of the Roman empire in those parts, formed themselves into a little state on that coast till they were obliged to receive the laws of the French. Judicaël, commonly called Giguel, eldest son of Juthael, became king of Brittany about the year 630. 1 This prince soon after renounced this perishable crown to labour more securely for the acquisition of an incorruptible one, and retired into the monastery of St. Meen, in the diocess of St. Malo, where he lived in so great sanctity as to be honoured after his death with the title of the Blessed Judicaël. When he resigned the crown he offered it to his younger brother Jodoc, called by the French Josse. But Jodoc had the same inclinations with his eldest brother. However, to consult the divine will, he shut himself up for eight days in the monastery of Lanmamiont, in which had been brought up, and prayed night and day with many tears that God would direct him to undertake what was most agreeable to him and most conducive to his divine honour and his own sanctification. He put an end to his deliberation by receiving the clerical tonsure at the hands of the Bishop of Avranches, and joined a company of eleven pilgrims who purposed to go to Rome. They went first to Paris, and thence into Picardy in 636, where Jodoc was prevailed upon by Haymo, duke of Ponthieu, to fix upon an estate of his, which was a sufficient distance from his own country, and secure from the honours which there waited for him. Being promoted to priest’s orders, he served the duke’s chapel seven years; then retired with one only disciple named Vurmare, into a woody solitude at Ray, where he found a small spot of ground proper for tillage, watered by the river Authie. The duke built them a chapel and cells, in which the hermits lived, gaining by the tillage of this land their slender subsistence and an overplus for the poor. Their exercises were austere penance, prayer, and contemplation. After eight years thus spent here they removed to Runiac, now called Villers-saint-Josse, near the mouth of the river Canche, where they built a chapel of wood in honour of St. Martin. In this place they continued the same manner of life for thirteen years; when Jodoc having been bit by an adder, they again changed their quarters, the good duke, who continued their constant protector, having built them an hermitage, with two chapels of wood, in honour of SS. Peter and Paul. The servants of God kept constant inclosure, except that, out of devotion to the prince of the apostles, and to the holy martyrs, they made a penitential pilgrimage to Rome in 665. At their return to Runiac they found their hermitage enlarged and adorned, and a beautiful church of stone, which the good duke had erected in memory of St. Martin, and on which he settled a competent estate. The duke met them in person on the road, and conducted them to their habitation. Jodoc finished here his penitential course in 669, and was honoured by miracles both before and after his death. Winoc and Arnoc, two nephews of the saint, inherited his hermitage, which became a famous monastery, and was one of those which Charlemagne first bestowed on Alcuin in 792. It stands near the sea, in the diocess of Amiens, follows the Order of St. Bennet, and the abbot enjoys the privileges of count. It is called St. Josse-sur-mer. St. Jodoc is mentioned on this day in the Roman Martyrology. See the life of this saint written in the eighth century; Cave thinks about the year 710. It is published with learned notes by Mabillon, Act. Ben. t. 2. p. 566; Gall. Chr. Nov. t. 10, pp. 1289, 1290.
Note 1. Conan is called the first prince of Lesser Brittany or Armorica, and is said to have died in 421, in the reign of Theodosius the Younger: having founded the diocesses of Cornouaille or Quimper, and of Vannes. Solomon I., his grandson, succeeded him, and after thirteen years was murdered by his own subjects, for his zeal in reforming their immoralities. Some think him the prince whose name occurs in some calendars of Brittany, rather than Solomon III. who was a murderer and usurper. Grallon or Gallon (from Gallus or Wallus) was the third prince, and seems to have governed for his little nephew, Audren. He could not have founded the monasteries of Landevenec and Ruis; for he died in 445, and St. Gildas arrived in Brittany only in 530. Audren, son to Solomon, Guerich, and Eusebius then reigned successively, and sometimes aided the Roman forces against the Goths and Burgundians. Budic, seventh prince of Brittany, founded the church of St. Cyr, now St. Leonard’s, in Nantes, and is thought to have been slain by Clovis I. who, about the year 506, made Brittany a province of his kingdom. Hoel I. or Riuval, son of Budic, is called by many the first king or prince of Brittany; having assembled the Britons dispersed in the islands, drove out the Frisons whom Clovis had settled in Armorica, and recovered the inheritance of his ancestors, but held it of King Childebert, whom he waited on at Paris in 522. Hoel II., called also Riuval, and Riguald succeeded, persecuted St. Malo, bishop of Aleth, and was murdered in 546, by his brother, Canao, who seized the crown; but thirteen years after was slain by Clotaire I., who conquered Rennes, Vannes, and Nantes. Macliau, son of Hoel I. recovered the sovereignty; but was killed in 577. Judual, son of Hoel II. got possession of part of Brittany, Varoc of Guerech, son of Macliau, of Vannes and the largest part, and Theodoric, son of Budic, of a third part. They refused the usual tribute to the French; the kings, Chilperic, Gontran, and, in 594, Childebert sent armies to compel them; but these were defeated by Varoc and Judual in several battles: Childebert, after 594, left them independent and unmolested. Only Judual had a successor, Juthael or Hoel III., who reigned over all Brittany. He had twenty-two children, among whom three are honoured as saints, Judicaël or Giguel, Jodoc or Josse, and Winoc. Guzelun or Solomon II., fourth son to Juthael, succeeded to the crown, and died without issue, about the year 632. His eldest brother, Judicaël had received the monastic tonsure at the hands of St. Meen, and retired into his monastery of Gaël, in the territory of Vannes. Upon the death of Guzelun, he was obliged to leave the monastery in which he had spent fifteen years, but without making any vows, and mount the throne. St. Owen, in his life of St. Eligius, an eye-witness, tells us, that the Britons having plundered certain vassals of the French, Dagobert, in 636, sent Eligius, then a layman at court, to King Judicaël to demand satisfaction. Judicaël readily engaged to make it to the injured, and accompanied him back to Dagobert’s court, by whom he was received with honour. About the year 638, he resigning his kingdom, and returning to his monastery of Gaël; he there served God twenty years with great fervour, and died in the odour of sanctity on the 17th of December, 658. See on the pedigree and history of these princes, Dom Morice, Hist. de Bretagn. Lobineau, Vies des SS. de la Bretagne, pp. 143, 152; Dom Bouquet, &c. [back]
Butler’s Lives of the Saints