St. Eucherius of Lyons
Bishop of Lyons and ascetic author
Born in the latter half of the fourth century, St. Eucherius died about 449. On the death of his wife he withdrew to the monastery of Lenins, where his sons, Veranius and Salonius, lived, and soon afterward to the neighboring island of Lerona (now Sainte-Marguerite), where he devoted his time to study and mortification. Desirous of joining the anchorites in the deserts of the East, he consulted John Cassian, who, in reply, sent him some of his Collationes, describing the daily lives of the hermits of the Thiebaud. It was at this time that Eucherius wrote his beautiful letter De laude Eremi to St. Hilary of Arles (c. 428). Though imitating the virtues of the Egyptian solitaries, he kept in touch with men renowned for learning and piety, e.g. Cassian, St. Hilary of Arles, St. Honoratus, later Bishop of Marseilles, and Valerian, to whom he wrote his Epistola parænetica de contemptu mundi. The fame of Eucherius was soon so widespread in southeastern Gaul, that he was chosen Bishop of Lyons. This was probably in 434; it is certain, at least that he attended the First Council of Orange( 441) as Metropolitan of Lyons, and that he retained this dignity until his death.
In addition to the above-mentioned letters, Eucherius wrote Formularium spiritualis intelligentiæ ad Veranium, and Institutiones ad Salonium, besides many homilies. His works have been published both separately and among the writings of the Fathers.
Works by St. Eucherius of Lyons
In the early fifth century, St. Eucherius became famous across southeastern Gaul for his piety and asceticism. In this letter to his kinsman, Valerianus, Eucherius entreats Valerianus to give up his wealth, titles, and future in order to dedicate himself to God. The Saint argues that these worldly pleasures only work to distract the soul from its heavenly purpose. Instead, the faithful heed the words of Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
In the early fifth century, St. Eucherius became famous across southeastern Gaul for his piety and asceticism. In his Formulae, he lays out a method for acquiring spiritual knowledge through the study of the Holy Scripture. He suggests ways to interpret the meanings behind the names of God, the places mentioned by the biblical authors, the symbolism used in biblical poetry, and the history of the Israelite nation. After each statement, St. Eucherius cites at least one supporting passage of scripture. The Formulae provide a fascinating insight into the biblical hermeneutics of the early medieval period of Christianity.
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