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Maglorius (DNB00)


MAGLORIUS, Saint (495?–575), second bishop of Dol in Brittany, was son of Umbrafel, the younger son of Emyr Llydaw, who was descended from a royal family of the district of Meath in Ireland (Lib. Landav. ed. Evans and Rhys, p. 6). His mother was Afrella, elder daughter of Meurig ab Tewdrig, king of Glamorgan (R. Rees, Welsh Saints, p. 218). St. Sampson [q. v.] and St. Malo are called his first cousins, the former being son of his father's elder brother, Amwn Ddu, king of Grawegin, in Armorica, by Anna, elder sister of Maglorius's mother, while the latter was son of his father's sister, Derwela (Lobineau, ed. Tresvaux, ii. 45). Maglorius was born in Britain after the general emigration of Armorican saints under Cadfan (R. Rees, p. 253), and, like Sampson, was educated from his infancy in the college of St. Illtyd, at Llantwit Major (ib. 179, 256).

Maglorius returned to his parents from St. Illtyd in early youth and stayed with them till his seventeenth year, when his father fell dangerously ill, and St. Sampson came to visit him. Like his uncle Amwn and his father Umbrafel, who both, according to the ‘Liber Landavensis,’ took the monastic habit, Maglorius probably accompanied Sampson to St. Peirio's monastery on an island near Llantwit, of which Sampson became abbot on the death of Peirio (Lib. Landav. pp. 12 sqq.) By Sampson's care Maglorius was ordained deacon (Acta SS. Oct. x. p. 782). Subsequently, at a date variously given as about 521 (Hardy, Cat. of Materials, i. 158) or 550 (Williams, Dict. Eminent Welshmen, s. v. ‘Sampson’), Sampson and Maglorius returned to Armorica, landing at Aleth, now St. Malo. Under the protection of Childebert, king of Neustria, they preached along the coast, and Sampson founded monasteries for his converts, and the chief of them was doubtless at Dol, in the diocese of Rennes (ib.; see under Sampson).

Maglorius was placed at the head of one of Sampson's religious communities near Dol, and by him was ordained priest and subsequently bishop. On the death or retirement of Sampson, the date of which it is impossible to fix, the care of the monastery fell upon Maglorius, probably as episcopal abbot (Haddan and Stubbs, Councils, ii. 76, note a). He was now nearly seventy, and was eager to retire to the solitude he had been taught in Wales to regard as the fit conclusion to a saintly life. At the end of three years he left Dol in the charge of a monk, Budoc, and retired to Jersey. But his retreat soon became known, and his hermitage grew into a monastery for sixty-two monks. He subjected himself to a rigorous fast, ate only after sunset on ordinary days, and nothing at all on Wednesdays and Fridays. He would eat nothing but barley-bread and pulse, adding a little fish on Sundays and festivals. For six months before his death he lived continuously in the church. When a famine threatened to destroy the monastery, it was proposed that the sixty-two should go out in couples to Ireland and Wales, to seek for a subsistence, but this idea Maglorius rejected as destructive of discipline. Their necessities were soon afterwards relieved, and his devotion was thus rewarded. He is said to have been about eighty years of age when he died on 24 Oct. 575. His body was removed to the priory of Lehon in the diocese of St. Malo, near Dinan, in 857, and thence his relics were removed with those of Sampson to Paris in the tenth century, for fear of the Northmen. St. Maglorius's relics remained in the collegiate church of St. Bartholomew, which changed its name to St. Maglorius. This church had a chapel in the Rue St. Denis, dedicated to St. Maglorius. In 1138 the mother-church removed to the Rue St. Denis, and the collegiate church resumed its name of St. Bartholomew. In 1572 Catherine de Medicis gave the church of St. Maglorius in the Rue St. Denis to some nuns, and the priests moved with their relics to the church of S. Jacques du Haut-Pas in the Faubourg du Midi, which took the name of St. Magloire, still retains it, and is famous as the house of the French Oratorians, who acquired it in 1621 (Baillet, vii. 372).

It has been said that the hymn ‘Cœlo quos eadem’ was written by Maglorius, but it is really the work of Jean-Baptiste Santeul (Hymni Sacri et Novi, p. 212, ed. 1698), who took the name of Maglorianus, having been in the seminary of St. Magloire. It was inserted in the Paris Breviary of 1758 as a hymn for All Saints' day.

Hardy (Descr. Cat. i. 158) gives a list of the manuscript lives of Maglorius. Baldric of Anjou, bishop of Dol in the twelfth century, wrote lives of the early bishops of his diocese, and parts of his manuscript have been translated in Le Baud's ‘Histoire de Bretagne,’ but he did not write the manuscript from which the Bollandists have printed their version of Maglorius's life (Acta SS. Bened. sæc. i. 223, and 24 Oct. x. 782). Surius used the same manuscript, but introduced amendments of his own (Surius, 24 Oct.) It is anonymous, and there is some uncertainty as to its date. The authors of the ‘Histoire Littéraire de la France’ (vi. 540 sq.) show that it was originally written in the tenth century. Perhaps it was copied and retouched by a thirteenth-century author (Baillet, Vies des Saints, vol. vii. 24 Oct.), but the absence of any account of the translation of Maglorius's relics and the use of the title archbishop in speaking of Sampson and Maglorius are internal evidence for the earlier date. The ‘Histoire Littéraire’ considers it nevertheless worthless as history, because of the large miraculous element the author has thought fit to introduce. The Bollandists, in a learned ‘Commentarius prævius’ (Acta SS. Oct. x. 24, p. 772), justly consider the criticism too severe; much of the biographer's professedly historical matter can be supported from Welsh sources.

[Regestum Landavense, Achau y Saint, and other Welsh Genealogies quoted by Rice Rees in Welsh Saints, and W. J. Rees in Cambro-British Saints; Acta Sanctorum, 24 Oct. x.; Dictionary of Christian Biography.]

M. B.