ST. QUEN OR AUDOEN, ARCHBISHOP OF ROUEN, C.
HE was otherwise called Dadon, and was son of
Autaire, a virtuous French nobleman, who was settled in Brie. St.
Columban being courteously entertained by him, gave his blessing to
his two sons, Ouen and Adon, then in their infancy. Autaire placed
them both, during their youth, in the court of king Clotaire II.,
where they contracted a friendship with St. Eloi, and by his example
conceived a great contempt for the world, and both resolved to devote
themselves to the service of God. Adon executed his design some time
after, and founded, upon an estate which he had near the river Marne,
the double monastery of Jouarre, then called Jotrum, which he endowed
with his own estate. It is at present a Benedictine nunnery. St. Ouen
was in great creoit with king Clotaire II., and with his son and
successor Dagobert I., who made him keeper of his seal, in quality of
his referendary or chan cellor; and original acts signed by him by
virtue of this office are still extant. He obtained of the king a
grant of a piece of land situated in the forest of Brie, between the
greater and lesser Morin; where, in 634, he erected a monastery
called, from the brook near which it stands, Resbac, at present
Rebais. By the advice of St. Faro, bishop of Meaux, he sent for St.
Agil, a disciple of St. Columban, and got him appointed the first
abbot by a council held at Clichi in 636; but in this he was forced
to make use of the king’s authority; for the cities of Metz,
Langres, and Besançon, had at the same time requested St. Agil
to be their bishop, and the monks of Luxeu desired to have him for
their abbot. St. Ouen would have retired himself to Rebais, there to
embrace a monastic life; but king Dagobert and his nobles could by no
means be induced to give their consent. St. Ouen and St. Eloi, though
yet laymen, were, for their zeal, piety, and learning, considered as
oracles even of the bishops, and they exceedingly promoted the cause
of religion and virtue through the whole kingdom. Dagobert dying in
638, Clovis II., his son and successor, testified the same esteem for
St. Ouen, and continued him for some time in the office of
referendary, by virtue of which all the letters and edicts of the
king were brought to him, and he put the king’s seal upon them,
says Aymoinus. At length this prince was prevailed upon to give St.
Ouen leave to receive the clerical tonsure, and he was shortly after
elected archbishop of Rouen, in the room of St. Romanus; and at the
same time his friend St. Eloi was chosen bishop of Noyon and Tournay.
They took a considerable time to prepare themselves for this dignity
by retirement, rigorous fasting, and prayer, and received the
episcopal consecration together at Rheims in 640.
St. Ouen in this new dignity increased, not his
pomp, but his humility austerities, and charities. His zeal was
indefatigable, and, by his affability and patience, he was truly all
to all. He exerted his zeal in extirpating simony and other abuses,
and promoted everywhere the reformation of discipline, especially in
the third council of Chalons in 644. King Theodoric III. employed him
in many charitable and important commissions, especially in pacifying
those that were at variance, and in calming seditions. The saint
having procured a peace between the French in Austrasia and Neustria,
went to carry the news thereof to king Theodoric at Clichi near
Paris, where an assembly of prelates and lords was held; and falling
there sick of a fever, he besought the king that St. Ansbert, abbot
of Fontenelle, who was the king’s confessor, and whom the
clergy and people of Rouen desired to have for their pastor, should
succeed him. He died at Clichi, in great sentiments of holy
compunction and joy on the 24th of August, in 683, having possessed
the episcopal dignity forty-three years. See his life in Surius, and
another more ancient in the Bollandists, p. 805, also I’Histoire
de Rouen, t. 1, part 3, p. 136, and Du-Plessis, Hist. de Meaux, p.
34, 45, and 47. See a long history of miracles performed by the
intercession and relics of St. Ouen, written by the monk Fulbert in
1066; also the poem of Thierri, the learned monk of St. Ouen, in
1050, upon the life of this saint in F. du Moustier’s Neustria
Pia, p. 23, 72–846. Henschenius confounded St. Ouen with St.
Owin, a monk of Litchfield, when he ascribed his life to an English
writer of the tenth age, named Fridegorius, as Dom Rivet observes, t.
8, p. 636. On his translations and miracles, see Martène,
Anecd. t. 3, Col. 1669.