Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Felix, Bishop of Nantes, Confessor

Article

The most illustrious among the bishops of Nantes was saint Felix, a person of the first rank in Aquitain, some say of Bourges in the First Aquitain; others more probably think of the Second Aquitain on the sea-coast and nearer Brittany. In the world he was more illustrious by his virtue, his eloquence, and learning, than by his dignities and high birth. The Greek language was as familiar to him as his own; he was a poet and orator, and seems from Fortunatus’s expression to have written a panegyric on the queen Saint Radegundes in verse. He had been married when he was called to succeed Evemer, the holy bishop of Nantes, toward the close of the year 549, in the 37th year of his age. His zeal for discipline and good order appeared in the regulations he made for his own diocess, and in the decrees of the third council of Paris in 557, in the second of Tours in 566, and the fourth of Paris in 573. His charity to the poor had no other bounds but those of their necessities, and considering that the revenues of the Church were the patrimony of the poor, he reserved to himself only the prudent and troublesome administration of them for their use. He sold for them and the Church his own patrimony, and made it his study and earnest endeavour that no one in his diocess should pass unrelieved in distress. His predecessor had formed a project of building a cathedral within the walls of the city of Nantes, which Felix executed in the most magnificent manner. Fortunatus describes it to have been composed of three naves, of which the middle was supported by great pillars. A great cupola was raised in the middle. The church was covered with tin, and within was only azure, gold, mosaic paintings, pilasters, foliages, various figures and other ornaments. Euphronius, archbishop of Tours, and the bishops of Angers, Mans, Rennes, Poitiers, and Angouleme performed the dedication; no bishop of the Britons was invited to the ceremony; from which it appears that their commerce with the French was not entirely free. The Britons were then possessed of no lands in the diocess of Nantes except the territory of Croisic, in which was the palace of Aula Quiriaca or Guerrande, vulgarly Warand, probably so called from Guerech I. the British count of Vannes, who resided there. Canao, one of his successors, when Felix was made bishop, had put to death three of his brothers, and held a fourth named Macliau in prison. Saint Felix by his intercession saved his life, and obtained his liberty. Saint Gregory of Tours complains that bishop Felix had been prepossessed by false informations against Peter, Gregory’s brother, and accused him of favouring an unworthy nephew; but in other places bears testimony to his eminent sanctity, which is much extolled by Fortunatus and others. Guerech II count of Vannes, plundered the diocesses of Rennes and Vannes, and repulsed the troops which king Chilperic sent against him; but at the entreaties of Saint Felix, withdrew his forces, and made peace. The holy prelate died on the 8th of January in 584, the seventieth year of his age, of his episcopal dignity thirty three. He is honoured at Nantes, of which he was the sixteenth bishop from Saint Clair, on the 7th of July, the day of the translation of his relics.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Felix, Bishop of Nantes, Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 3 July 2013. Web. 23 September 2014. <>