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§ 161. Theodulph of Orleans.


I. Theodulph, Aurelianensis episcopus: Opera omnia, in Migne, Tom. CV. col. 187–380. His Carmina are in Dümmler’s Poëtae Lat. aev. Car. I. 2. pp. 437–58l, 629, 630.

II. L. Baunard: Théodulfe, Orleans, 1860. Rzehulka: Theodulf, Breslau, 1875 (Dissertation). Cf. the general works, Mabillon: Analecta, Paris, 1675. Tom. I. pp. 386 sqq.; Tiraboschi: Historia della letteratura italiana new ed. Florence. 1805–18, 20 parts, III. l. pp. 196–205 (particularly valuable for its investigation of the obscure points of Theodulph’s life). Du Pin, VI. 124; Hist. Lit. de la France, IV. 459–474; Ceillier, XII. 262–271, Bähr, 91–95, 359, 860; Ebert, II. 70–84.


Theodulph, bishop of Orleans, one of the most useful churchmen of the Carolingian period, was probably born in Spain,11431143    Curiously enough the word used in his epitaph to express his native land is ambiguous. The line reads: ”Protulit hunc Speria, Gallia sed nutriit“ (Migne, l.c. col. 192); but Speria (Hesperia) is a poetical term for either Italy or Spain. Cf. Ebert l.c. p. 70. past the middle of the eighth century. In 788 he attracted the notice of Charlemagne, who called him into France and made him abbot of Fleury and of Aignan, both Benedictine monasteries in the diocese of Orleans, and later bishop of Orleans. He stood in high favor with his king and was entrusted with important commissions. He participated in the council of Frankfort (794); was made missus dominicus11441144    I.e. the official dispenser of justice who accompanied the bishop on his visitation, and was particularly charged with the examination of the church buildings. It was a post of great responsibility. in 798; accompanied Charlemagne to Rome, sat as one of the judges in the investigation of the charges against Leo III. (800) and received from the supreme pontiff the pallium (801).11451145    On which Alcuin congratulated him (Migne, Patrol. Lat. C. col. 391, Mon. Alc., Epist. 166, p. 606). He succeeded Alcuin (804) as first theological imperial counsellor. In 809 he sat in the council of Aix la Chapelle and by request of the emperor collected the patristic quotations in defence of the Filioque clause. In 811 he was witness to the emperor’s will. Louis the Pious, Charlemagne’s son and successor, for a time showed him equal honor and confidence, for instance in appointing him to meet Pope Stephen V. when he came to the coronation at Rheims (816). But two years afterwards he was suspected, it would seem without good reason, of complicity in king Bernard’s rebellion, and on Easter 818 was deposed and imprisoned at Angers, in the convent either of St. Aubin or of St. Serge. He stoutly persisted in his declaration of innocence, and in 821 he was released and reinstated, but died11461146    It is said he was poisoned by order of the person who had received his see. on his way back or shortly after his arrival in Orleans, and was buried in Orleans Sept. 19, 821.

Theodulph was an excellent prelate; faithful, discreet and wise. He greatly deplored the ignorance of his clergy and earnestly labored to elevate them. To this end he established many schools, and also wrote the Capitula ad presbyteros parochicae suae mentioned below. In this work he was particularly successful. The episcopal school of Orleans was famous for the number, beauty and accuracy of the MSS. it produced. In his educational work he enjoyed the assistance of the accomplished poet Wulfin. Theodulph was himself a scholar, well read both in secular and religious literature.11471147    Cf. Carmina, IV. i. (Migne, l.c. col. 331), in which he names his favorite authors. Alcuin proposed him to Charlemagne as competent to refute Felix the Adoptionist. Cf. Alcuin, Epistolae, LXXXIV. (Migne, Patrol. Lat. C. col. 276). He had also a taste for architecture, and restored many convents and churches and built the splendid basilica at Germigny, which was modelled after that at Aix la Chapelle. His love for the Bible comes out not only in the revision of the Vulgate he had made, and practically in his exhortation to his clergy to expound it, but also in those costly copies of the Bible which are such masterpieces of calligraphy.11481148    Léopold Delisle, Les bibles de Théodulfe, Paris, 1879. Cf. Herzog2VIII. 449. He was moreover the first poet of his day, which however is not equivalent to saying that he had much genius. His productions, especially his didactic poems, are highly praised and prized for their pictures of the times, rather than for their poetical power. From one of his minor poems the interesting fact comes out that he had been married and had a daughter called Gisla, who was the wife of a certain Suavaric.11491149    Carmina, III.4 (Migne, CV. col. 326). Her husband’s name is given thus: ”Suaveque, Gisla, tuo feliciter utere rico,” 1. 29. The occasion of the poem was Theodulph’s presentation to her of a beautifully illuminated psalter.

The extant prose works of Theodulph are: 1. Directions to the priests of his diocese,11501150    Capitula ad presbyteros parochiae suae, Migne, CV. col. 191-208. written in 797. They are forty-six in number and relate to the general and special duties of priests. The following are some of the more instructive directions: Women must not approach the altar during the celebration of mass (c. 6). Nothing may be kept in the churches except holy things (c. 8). No one save priests and unusually holy laity may be buried in churches (c. 9). No woman is allowed to live in the house with a priest (c. 12). Priests must not get drunk or frequent taverns (c. 13). Priests may send their relatives to monastic schools (c. 19). They may keep schools themselves in which free instruction is given (c. 20). They must teach everybody the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed (c. 22). No work must be done on the Lord’s Day (c. 24). Priests are exhorted to prepare themselves to preach (c. 28). Daily, honest confession of sins to God ensures pardon; but confession to a priest is also enjoined in order that through his counsels and prayers the stain of sin may be removed (c. 30). True charity consists in the union of good deeds and a virtuous life (c. 34). Merchants should not sell their souls for filthy lucre (c. 35). Regulations respecting fasting (c. 36–43). All should come to church to celebrate mass and hear the preaching, and no one should eat before communicating (c. 46). 2. To the same, a treatise upon sins and their ecclesiastical punishment; and upon the administration of extreme unction.11511151    Capitulare ad eosdem, ibid. col. 207-224. 3. The Holy Spirit.11521152    De Spiritu Sancto, ibid. col. 239-276. The collection of patristic passages in defense of the Filioque, made by order of Charlemagne (809), as mentioned above. It has a metrical dedication to the emperor. 4. The ceremony of baptism,11531153    De ordine baptismi ad Magnum Senonensem libri, ibid. col. 223-240. written in 812 in response to Charlemagne’s circular letter on baptism which Magnus, archbishop of Sens (801–818), had forwarded to him. It consists of eighteen chapters, which minutely describe all the steps in the ceremony of baptism. 5. Fragments of two sermons.11541154    Fragmenta sermonum duorum, ibid. col. 275-282.

The Poetical works of Theodulph are divided into six books.11551155    Carmina, ibid. col. 283-380. Ebert (l.c. pp. 73-84) analyzes these poems at length . The first is entirely devoted to one poem; The exhortation to judges,11561156    Peraenesis ad Judices, ibid. col. 283-300. in which besides describing a model judge and exhorting all judges to the discharge of their duties he relates his own experiences while missus and thus gives a most interesting picture of the time.11571157    Cf. H. Hagen: Theodulfi episcopi Aurelianensis de iudicibus versus recogniti, Bern, 1882 (pp 31). The second book contains sixteen pieces, including epitaphs, and the verses which he wrote in the front of one of his illuminated Bibles giving a summary in a line of each book, and thus revealing his Biblical scholarship. The verses are prefaced in prose with a list of the books. The third book contains twelve pieces, including the verses to Gisla already mentioned. The fourth book contains nine pieces, the most interesting of which are c.1 on his favorite authors, and c.2 on the seven liberal arts,—grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, arithmetic, music, geometry and astrology. The fifth book contains four pieces: Consolation for the death of a certain brother, a fragment On the seven deadly sins, An exhortation to bishops, and four lines which express the evangelical sentiment that only by a holy life is heaven gained; without it pilgrimages avail nothing. The sixth book contains thirty pieces. Ten other poems appear in an appendix in Migne.11581158    Ibid. col. 377-380.



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