Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Poppo, Abbot of Stavello

Article

Saint Poppo was born in Flanders in 978, and received a pious education, under the care of a most virtuous mother, who died a nun at Verdun. In his youth he served for some time in the army, but even whilst he lived in the world, he found the spiritual food of heavenly meditation and prayer with which the affections of the soul are nourished, to be incomparably sweeter than all the delights of the senses, and to give himself up entirely to these holy exercises, he renounced his profession and the world. In a visit which he made by a penitential pilgrimage to the holy places at Jerusalem, he brought thence many precious relics, with which he enriched the church of our Lady at Deisne, now a marquisate between Ghent and Courtray. He made also a pilgrimage to the shrines of the apostles at Rome, and some time after his return, took the monastic habit Saint Thierry’s near Rheims. Richard, abbot of Verdun, becoming acquainted with his eminent virtue, obtained with great difficulty his abbot’s consent to remove him tither: and being made abbot of Saint Vedast’s at Arras, upon the deposition of Folrad, who had filled that house with scandalous disorders, he appointed Poppo procurator. In a journey which our saint was obliged to make to the court of Saint Henry, he prevailed with that religious prince to abolish the combats of men and bears. Saint Poppo was chosen successively prior of Saint Vedast’s, provost of Saint Vennes, and abbot of Beaulieu, which last he rebuilt. He was afterwards chosen abbot of Saint Vedast’s, and some time later of the two united abbeys of Stavelo and Malmedy, about a league asunder, in the diocess of Liege; also, two years after this, of Saint Maximin’s at Triers. Those of Arras and Marchiennes were also committed to his care: in all which houses he settled the most exact discipline. He died at Marchiennes, on the 25th of January, in 1048, being seventy years of age. Saint Poppo received Extreme Unction at the hands of Everhelm, abbot of Hautmont, afterwards of Blandinberg at Ghent, who afterwards wrote his life, in which he gives a particular account of his great virtues. The body of Saint Poppo was carried to Stavelo, and there interred; his remains were taken up and enshrined in 1624, after Baronius had inserted his name in the Roman Martyrology; for Molanus in his Indiculus and Miræus observe that he was never canonized. Chatelain denies against Trithemius that any commemoration was ever made of him in the public office in any of the abbeys which he governed. But Martenne assures us that he was honoured among the saints at Stavelo, in the year 1624. See his life wrote by the monk Onulf, and abridged by Everhelm, abbot of Hautmont.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Poppo, Abbot of Stavello”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 25 January 2013. Web. 19 September 2014. <>