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St. Ouen



(OWEN; DADON, Latin Audaenus).

Archbishop of Rouen, b. at Sancy, near Soissons about 609; d. at Clichy-la-Garenne, near Paris, 24 Aug., 683. His father, Autharius, and his mother, Aiga, belonged to the Gallo-Roman race. Shortly after Ouen's birth they came to Ussy-sur-Marne, where he spent his childhood, with which tradition connects a series of marvellous events. Being afterwards sent to the Abbey of St. Medard he received an education which caused him to be welcomed at the court of Clothaire II a short time previous to the death of that prince. The latter's successor, Dagobert I, made him his referendary or chancellor and profited greatly by his talents and learning. He charged him with important missions and, it is believed, with compiling the Salic Law. St. Ouen found at the royal court Eloi (Eligius), another holy person, whose life was very similar to his own. Both of them, despite the disorders of the Frankish king, served him faithfully. But when Dagobert was dead, they considered themselves released from all secular duties, and leaving the court they devoted themselves in seclusion to the theological studies which attracted them.

St. Ouen, who in 634 founded the Abbey of Rabais, was ordained priest by Dieudonne, Bishop of Macon. Some time later his virtues and great ability marked him out for the archepiscopal see of Rouen, left vacant by the death of St. Romain. Elected in 639 he was consecrated at Rouen, 21 May, 640, with his friend St. Eloi, who became Bishop of Moyon. The Diocese of Rouen, in which there were still barbarian districts from which paganism had not disappeared, was transformed under the administration of St. Ouen who caused the worship of false gods to cease, founded numerous monasteries, and developed theological studies. Occasionally the statesman reappeared in St. Ouen. For instance he upheld Ebroin the mayor of the palace in his strife against the aristocracy. After Ebroin's death, at the invitation of Thierry I he went to Cologne and succeeded in restoring peace between Neustria and Austrasia. Shortly after he was attacked by the illness to which he succumbed. His body, which was brought to Rouen and interred in the Abbey of St. Pierre which thenceforth assumed his name, was translated several times, in 842, 918, and finally in 1890. St. Ouen, who survived St. Eloi, wrote the life of his friend. This biography, which is one of the most authentic historical monuments of the seventh century, contains a store of valuable information regarding the moral and religious education of that time. It was published for the first time by Dom Luc d'Achery in vol. V of his "Spicilegium".

CEILLIER, Hist. gen. des aut. sacr. et eccles., XVII (Paris, 1750), 687-89; CHERUEL in Rev. de Rouen, II (1836), 251-64, I; (1837), 21-36; Hist. Litt. de la France (Paris, 1735-8), III, 623-28; IV, 74; LANOVIUS; SS. Franciae cancell. (1634), 21-79; PETIT, Histoire de S. ouen (Rouen, s.d.); REICH, Ueber Audoens Lebensbeschreib d. heilig. Eligius (Halle, 1872); VACANDARD, L'enfance de S. Ouen in Prec. trav. acad. Rouen (Rouen, 1896-97), 129-53; IDEM, S. Ouen avant son episcopat in Revue des questions historiques, XIX (Paris, 1898), 5-50.

LEON CLUGNET








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