SAINT CLAUDE, ARCHBISHOP OF BESANCON, C. AND
PATRON OF THE DIOCESE OF ST. CLAUDE
THE province of eastern Burgundy, now called
Franche-Comté, received great lustre from this glorious saint.
He was born at Salins about the year 603, and was both the model and
the oracle of the clergy of Besançon, when upon the death of
archbishop Gervaise, about the year 683, he was chosen to be his
successor. Fearing the obligations of that charge, he fled and hid
himself, but was discovered and compelled to take it upon him. During
seven years he acquitted himself of the pastoral functions with the
zeal and vigilance of an apostle; but finding then an opportunity of
resigning his see, which, out of humility and love of solitude, he
had always sought, he retired to the great monastery of St. Oyend, or
Ouyan, on mount Jura, and there took the monastic habit in 690.
Violence was used to oblige him soon after to accept the abbatial
dignity. Such was the sanctity of his life, and his zeal in
conducting his monks in the paths of evangelical perfection, that he
deserved to be compared to the Antonies and Pacomiuses, and his
monastery to those of ancient Egypt. Manual labor, silence, prayer,
reading of pious books, especially the Holy Bible, fasting, watching,
humility, obedience, poverty, mortification, and the close union of
their hearts with God, made up the whole occupation of these fervent
servants of God, and were the rich patrimony which St. Claude left to
his disciples. He died in 703, according to F. Chifflet; but,
according to Mabillon and the authors of the new Gallia Christiana,
in 696. His body was buried in the abbatial church of St. Oyend, or
Condate, and discovered there in 1243, and put into a silver shrine.
It was found and is still preserved without the least blemish of
corruption. The bowels are entire in the body, and the joints
flexible. The feet are exposed bare three times every day to be
kissed by pilgrims, for his shrine has been for many ages one of the
most famous pilgrimages in France. The monastery and town changed
their former names of Condate and St. Oyend for that of St. Claude.
This great abbey of Benedictius not reformed, was secularized and
converted into a collegiate of canons, in 1723, and into a cathedral
in 1743, a rich bishopric being erected in it. The town of St. Claude
is seven leagues from Geneva. The festival of this saint is kept on
the 6th of June. His life, written only in the twelfth century, is
given by Henschenius with notes. See F. Chifflet, in his
Illustrationes Claudianæ Mabillon, Act. Ben. Dunod, Hist. de
l’Eglise de Besançon, p. 65, &c.