Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Avitus, Archbishop of Vienne, Confessor

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Saint Alcimus Ecditius Avitus was of a senatorian Roman family, but born in Auvergne. His father Isychius was chosen archbishop of Vienne upon the death of Saint Mammertus, and was succeeded in that dignity by our saint, in 490. Ennodius, in his life of Saint Epiphanius of Pavia, says of him, that he was a treasure of learning and piety; and adds, that when the Burgundians had crossed the Alps, and carried home many captives out of Liguria, this holy prelate ransomed a great number. Clovis, king of France, whilst yet a pagan, and Gondebald, king of Burgundy, though an Arian, held him in great veneration. This latter, for fear of giving offence to his subjects, durst not embrace the Catholic faith, yet gave sufficient proofs that he was convinced of the truth by our saint, who, in a public conference, reduced the Arian bishops to silence in his presence, at Lyons. Gondebald died in 516. His son and successor, Sigismund was brought over by Saint Avitus to the Catholic faith. In 517, our saint presided in the famous council of Epaone, (now called Yenne) upon the Rhone, in which forty canons of discipline were framed. When king Sigismund had imbrued his hands in the blood of his son Sigeric, upon a false charge brought against him by a stepmother, Saint Avitus inspired him with so great a horror of his crime, that he rebuilt the abbey of Agaunum, or Saint Maurice, became a monk, and died a saint. Most of the works of Saint Avitus are lost; we have yet his poem on the praises of virginity, to his sister Fuscina, a nun, and some others; several epistles; two homilies on the Rogation days; and a third on the same, lately published by Dom Martenne; fragments of eight other homilies: his conference against the Arians is given us in the Spicilege. Saint Avitus died in 525, and is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on the 5th of February; and in the collegiate church of our Lady at Vienne, where he was buried, on the 20th of August. Ennodius, and other writers of that age, extol his learning, his extensive charity to the poor, and his other virtues.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Avitus, Archbishop of Vienne, Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 4 February 2013. Web. 28 July 2014. <>