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§ 166. Jonas of Orleans.


I. Jonas, Aurelianensis episcopus: Opera omnia, in Migne, Tom. CVI. col. 117–394.

II. Du Pin, VII. 3, 4. Ceillier, XII. 389–394. Hist. Lit. de la France, V. 20–31. Bähr, 394–398. Ebert, II. 225–230.


Jonas was a native of Aquitania, and in 821 succeeded Theodulph as archbishop of Orleans. In the first year of his episcopate he reformed the convent at Mici, near Orleans, and thereby greatly extended its usefulness. His learning in classical and theological literature joined to his administrative ability made him a leader in important councils, and also led to his frequent employment by Louis the Pious on delicate and difficult commissions. Thus the emperor sent him to examine the administration of the law in certain districts of his empire, and in 835 to the monasteries of Fleury and St. Calez in Le Mains. His most conspicuous service was, however, in connection with the gathering of bishops and theologians held at Paris in Nov. 825 to consider the question of image-worship. The emperor sent him and Jeremiah, archbishop of Sens, to Rome to lay before the pope that part of the collection of patristic quotations on the subject made by Halitgar and Amalarius, which was most appropriate. 12071207    Hefele, IV. 46. The issue of this transaction is unknown. He was the leading spirit in the reform council of Paris (829), and probably drew up its acts;12081208    Ebert, l.c. p. 226. Hefele does not mention him in this connection. and again at Diedenhofen, where, on March 4, 835, he dictated the protocol of Ebo’s deposition.12091209    Hefele, IV. 87. He died at Orleans in 843 or 844.

His Writings are interesting and important, although few.

1. The layman’s rule of life,12101210    . De institutione laicali. Migne, CVI. col. 121-278. in three books, composed in 828 for Mathfred, count of Orleans, who had requested instruction how to lead a godly life while in the bonds of matrimony. The first and last books are general in their contents, but the second is for the most part specially addressed to married people. As might be expected Jonas takes strong ground against vice in all its forms and so his work has great value in the history of ethics. It is very likely that the second book was composed first.12111211    Ebert, l.c. p. 229

2. The Kings rule of life,12121212    De institutione regia. Migne, CVI. col. 279-306. written about 829 and dedicated to Pepin. Both the above-mentioned works are little more than compilations from the Bible and the fathers, especially from Augustin, but the author’s own remarks throw a flood of light upon the sins and follies of his time.12131213    The fact that portions of these two books not only agree word for word but also with the Acts of the Paris reform-council of 829 is proof, as Ebert maintains (pp. 227-29), of the prior existence of the Acts.

3. The Worship of Images.12141214    De cultu imaginum, Migne, CVI. col. 305-388. This is his chief work, and a very important one. It is in three books, and was written against Claudius of Turin. It was nearly finished at the time of the latter’s death (839), and then laid aside since Jonas fancied that the bold position of Claudius would scarcely be assumed by any one else. But when he found that the pupils and followers of Claudius were propagating the same opinions he took up his book again and finished it about 842. It had been begun at the request of Louis the Pious; but he having died in 840, Jonas dedicated the work to his son, Charles the Bald, in a letter in which the above-mentioned facts about its origin are stated. Jonas opposes Claudius with his own weapons of irony and satire, gives his portrait in no flattering colors and even ridicules his latinity. The first book defends the use of images (pictures), the invocation and worship of the saints, the doctrine of their intercession, and the veneration due to their relics, but asserts that the French do not worship images. The second book defends the veneration of the cross, and the third pilgrimages to Rome.

4. History of the translation of the relics of Saint Hubert.12151215    Historia translationis S. Hucberti, ibid. col. 389-394. Hubert, patron saint of hunters, died in 727 as first bishop of Liége, and was buried there in St. Peter’s church. In 744 he was moved to another portion of the church, but in 825 bishop Walcand of Liége removed his relics to the monastery of Andvin which he had reestablished, and it is this second translation which Jonas describes.



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