SAINT VANDRILLE OR WANDRE GISILUS ABBOT OF
FONTENELLES IN NORMANDY
HE was nearly related to Pepin of Landen and
Erchinoald, the two first lords in the kingdom of Austrasia; and in
his youth was made count of the palace under Dagobert I. He was
humble on the highest pinnacle of honors, and mortified amidst
pleasures. To retrieve himself from the dissipation and other ill
effects, of which hurry and much conversation with the world are
dangerous occasions, he frequently retired into his closet, and there
conversed much with God by devout prayer, and with himself by serious
consideration on his own duties, condition, and spiritual miseries.
In compliance with the will of his parents he took to wife a virtuous
and noble lady; but, on the very day of his marriage, obtained her
consent that they should both consecrate their virginity to God;
which they did by a mutual vow on the same day. Vandrille in 629 took
the monastic habit at Montfaucon in Champagne, an abbey then lately
founded by St. Baudri. He afterward built a monastery upon his own
estate, called Elisang. In order to perfect himself in the most
approved rules and exercises of an ascetic or monastic life, he took
a journey to Bobio and to Rome. After his return into France he spent
ten years in the monastery of Romans, on the Isere. After which term,
with the blessing of his abbot, he repaired to St. Oüen,
archbishop of Rouen, by whom he was some time after ordained priest.
In 648 the saint founded the famous monastery of Fontenelles, five
leagues below Rouen, in the territory of Caux, in which he in a short
time saw himself at the head of three hundred monks. His life was
always most austere; he slept little, was clad in sackcloth, and was
most scrupulously exact in all the exercises of the monastic rule, in
which, he was well assured, the sanctification of his state
consisted. He went to receive the recompense of his labors on the 22d
of July in 666, being ninety-six years old. He was buried in the
church of St. Paul, now in ruins: his body was translated by St.
Bainus into that of St. Peter’s, still standing; and in 944 to
Ghent. It was lost in the persecution of the Calvinists in 1578; but
an arm had been restored to Fontenelles, and the other arm been given
to the abbey of Brone; where these relics are still preserved. See
his two lives of the same age in Mabillon, and in Bosch the
Bollandist, Julij, t. 5, p. 253. Also Gallia Christ. Nova, t. 11, p.
155, 166, and the history of the translation of his relics to the
abbey of Blandine, now St. Peter’s at Ghent, and a history of
his miracles, with F. Bosch’s notes, t. 5, p. 281; also F.
Toussaint-du-Plessis, Descript. Geogr. Hist. de la Haute Normandie.