Saturday, 25 August 2007

Lavedan Hermit

Saint Savin was born at Barcelona some time in the 8th century. Shortly after his birth, his mother was left a widow, and devoted herself with assiduity to his education. She directed her labour to form his young mind for God rather than for the world.

As he was born in a high position, it was considered desirable to finish his learning by residence in foreign countries and his mother conscented that he should pay a visit to the court of his noble uncle Hentilius in Poitiers, France. On his journey he avoided the highways of great cities, and sought his lodging generally in the Benedictine monasteries. In due time he arrived in Poitiers where he was cordially received by his uncle. As a mark of his confidence, Hentilius place Savin in charge of the education of his son and heir. He resisited all the temptations to pleasure which surrounded him in the luxurious court, and labourered to inspire the mind of his pupil with the sentiments of piety and charity.

The result of this teaching was a desire by his cousin to devote his life to the sevice of God in a monastery. With this intention he left his father's house secretly and retired to the Monastery of Liguge. Upon learning this intelligence his mother sought Savin at once and implored him to bring back to her her son. But he replied that he too had left a mother by whom he was adored, that he had renounced the most brilliant prospects, that he too had abandoned the world and he never could advise another to hesitate at a sacrifice which he himself was about to make. He hastened to the monastery and with his cousin entered the novication and during these three years they subjected themselves to all the austerities of the cloister, its obedience, its silence and its poverty.

The ascetic spirit of Savin was not content with the simple monastic rule ; it aspied to higher things and sought for greater perfection. So he bade adieu to his cousin and the monastery, traversed France in the garb of a pilgrim, living by the alms which he begged until divine spirit directed him to the valley of which he was ordained to be patron and benefactor. In the valley of the Lavedan there existed a monastery and was received by its abbot and told him he desired to be retained as the hermit in the vacinity. He built with his own hands a small hut which the abbot frequently visited Savin in his solitude, seeking intsruction and edification from his example.

Savin sufferred much during the summer from thirst, the little spring which supplied him being dried up by the excessive heats. On one occasion, in seeking to allay his thirst at a neighbours well, he had to cross the meadow of a person called Chromasse. This man, irritated at seeing a beggar, as he thought, trespassing upon his land, sent his servant to drive him away, severely injuring Savin. However according to legend God took vengeance and the man who had assaulted him became possessed by the devil and his master struck blind. But Savin implored the Lord to relieve the afflicted transgressors. Thereupon the servant was delivered from the demon but his master, Chromasse, was condemned to remain blind for many years until touching the saint's body after death, he miraculously recovered his sight. Having thus failed to slake his thirst, striking the rock with his staff, there issued forth an abundant stream which continues to flow to this day.

As Savin progressed in holiness the fame of his sanctity extended throughout the country. Whenever any misfortune befell shepherds on the mountains they resorted to him, certain that his prayers would protect or relieve them. A priest was one day crossing the bridge near Pierrefitte, when suddenly he and his horse fell into the torrent. Savin happened to see the accident from a distance and prayed for the deliverance of the drowning man, whose horse in desperate effort reached the bank.

When Savin died his body was removed from his hermitage and deposited in a tomb in the abbatial church. Subsequently it was removed to the apse of the church where it remains today.

Source: Lives of the Saints (Baring-Gould)

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