Chrodegang Wore Civil and Clergy Hats

Dan Graves, MSL

Chrodegang Wore Civil and Clergy Hats

Are you such a good worker that your boss can't afford to lose you? Chrodegang was such a valuable assistant, that King Pepin of the Franks would only consent to allow him to be consecrated Bishop of Metz if he continued as his chancellor. Chrodegang agreed. He was installed as bishop in March 742. His influence is felt to this day.

A close relative of Pepin, Chrodegang served Charles Martel as secretary and as chancellor of France. Although a layman holding such high position, he dressed in simple clothes, wore a hair shirt, fasted, prayed, and assisted the poor as if he had been a monk. He was still a layman when named Bishop of Metz.

As bishop, Chrodegang threw himself into the task of saving the papacy. The Lombards were making life miserable for Pope Stephen III who appealed to Pepin for help. Pepin sent Chrodegang as his emissary to Rome. Chrodegang brought the pope over the Alps to confer with Pepin. Pepin eventually rousted the Lombards, relieving the papacy and forging strong ties between the Franks and the Roman Church.

Chrodegang discovered that there were serious discrepancies between the liturgy as practiced in Rome and among the Franks. Consequently, he labored to reform the Frankish church. It is largely owing to Chrodegang that the musical form known as Gregorian chant took form north of the Alps. The eminent bishop also restored and founded churches, abbeys and other religious institutions. Determined to raise the standard of learning among the clergy, he banded the churchmen together into communities and adapted the rules of Benedict of Nursia to their establishments.

The pope appreciated Chrodegang's many efforts and made him an archbishop. Not only was Chrodegang the highest civil servant in the land, he was at the same time the highest religious authority. Fortunately he was a mild man, who used his power for good. He directed religious communities to assist the poor and educate youth.

His good will did not spare him from the errors of his times. For instance, he aggressively recruited saints' relics for his see. He tied the church strongly to the state and this would eventually result in serious problems for the church. Chrodegang died on this day, March 6, 766 and was buried in the Abbey of Gorze which he had founded.

Bibliography:

  1. "Chrodegang." New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1954.
  2. Chrodegang , Saint, Bishop of Metz. The Old English version of the enlarged rule of Chrodegang together with the Latin original. An Old English version of the Capitula of Theodulf together with the Latin original. An interlinear Old English rendering of the Epitome of Benedict of Aniane. By Arthur S. Napier ... London, Pub. for the Early English Text Society by K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., ltd., 1916.
  3. Mershman, Francis. "St. Chrodegang." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
  4. Various encyclopedia and internet articles.

Last updated December, 2006.

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