Baring-Gould’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Tyllo, Hermit

Article

(about 700)

[Cologne, German, and Belgian Martyrologies. The name is sometimes Tyllo, Thillo, or Hillo; in Belgium, Theaulon or Tilman. Authority: A life published in the Bollandists, which agrees with scattered notices of him in various writers.]

Saint Tillo, the Patron of Iseghem, in Belgium, was a son of Saxon parents, but was stolen, when young, from his home, and sold as a slave in Gaul. Saint Eligius, who redeemed many slaves, bought the lad, and being struck with his beauty and intelligence, sent him to the monastery of Solignac, to be educated by Saint Remade, then abbot of Solignac. After his education was complete, he was returned to Saint Eligius, who was a goldsmith, patronized by King Dagobert and the nobles of the court. With him Tillo learned the trade of a goldsmith, and made many vessels and ornaments of gold and silver, encrusted with gems, for the King. Whilst he worked, he had the Holy Scriptiures open before him, and as he chased the silver and gold he studied the Word of God. He kept ever in his heart the maxim, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” and all his work was done to the best of his ability, and executed with puncmality. Thus, he found favour with Eligius, and with all the customers of his master. When Eligius left his shop, and became a bishop, he called to the clerical office and to the religious life, his apprentice whom he had bought in the market many years before. Tillo, as priest and monk, showed a pattern of holiness, and was made abbot of Solignac, near Limoges. But ruling three hundred monks and attending to the worldly affairs of a great monastery, and more than that, the multitude of visitors, made the life one for which the goldsmith’s apprentice, trained to work in silence, and think and read, felt himself unfitted; so one night he fled away and was lost He penetrated the woods and mountains of Auvergne, seeking out a suitable spot for a hermitage, and one day he lit upon a quiet place, hid away among the rocky mountains, into which he could only just crawl on hands and knees. Having got in, he found a pleasant glade, surrounded ndth trees, having streams watering it from the mountain side, and there were plenty of apple trees, from which he concluded it had been previously a hermitage. Here he lived for some time, praying and reading, and tilling the soil. By degrees, it was rumoured that a holy hermit lived in that glade, and the people of the neighbourhood came to see him, and he called himself Brother Paul. And to all who visited him this was the rule of life he gave, “Believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ his Son, also in the Holy Ghost, three persons, but one God. Keep your mind from vain cogitations and your body pure from all uncleanness; avoid self-conceit, and be instant in prayer.”

And when there was ever more and more of a concourse, and many desired to put themselves under his direction, he went forth, and sought out a suitable spot, and found it at Bayac, where he founded a monastery. There he remained some while, till a longing came over him to revisit Solignac, and he fled away when all his monks were asleep, as he had fled previously from Solignac. And when he reached Solignac, he was received with great joy. Then he asked the abbot Gundebert to build him a little cell outside the monastery, in which he might reside with one or two of the brethren who sought a stricter life. His -wish was granted, and in this cell he spent the rest of his days.

He is regarded with special veneration at Iseghem, in Flanders, because he visited that place in company with Saint Eligius, and there remained some time teaching the people.

In art, he is represented with a chalice in one hand and an abbatial staff in the other.

MLA Citation

  • Sabine Baring-Gould. “Saint Tyllo, Hermit”. Lives of the Saints, 1897. Saints.SQPN.com. 6 January 2014. Web. 24 September 2014. <>