Remigius was one of the great missionaries of the 6thC. and his tireless zeal for winning souls to Christ led firstly to the conversion of one of the most influential kings of his time, Clovis I, king of the Franks and secondly his people.
Son of the Count of Laon, Remigius studied in Rheims, and at the very early age of twenty-two was consecrated bishop of this important city, a position he held for over seventy years. There are parallels of the conversion of Clovis with those of King Ethelbert of Kent and King Edwin of Northumbria in Britain. All had Christian Queens who had their own personal chaplain. In this instance Clovis' queen was Clotild whose chaplain was Remigius. She had requested him to teach the way to salvation to her husband so he could believe in the one true God and forsake his worship of idols. It would seem that Remigius was helped in this task by two ominous events, the healing of Clovis' infant son from sickness, and a spectacular victory over the Alemanni. Clovis' conversion was thus similar to that of Constantine in 313. When Clovis indicated he sought baptism "Remigius ordered the baptismal font to be made ready. The public squares were draped with coloured hangings, church were adorned with white hangings, the baptistery was prepared, the smoke of incense spread in clouds. Scented candles gleamed bright, and the holy place of baptism was filled with divine fragrance."
At his baptism Remigius addressed these words to Clovis, "Meekly bow your head. Worship what you have burnt; and burn what you have been worshipping." With Clovis, his family and his people were also baptised. They had exclaimed, "We will give up worshipping our mortal gods, O gracious king, and we are prepared to follow the immortal God whom Remigius preaches."
Having gained the protection of the King, Remigius was free to preach the Gospel to the Franks, which he did successfully. He built many churches and created dioceses before he died in 533. St. Francis whom we commemorate on Thursday the 4th has always been well known and loved because of his love for all creation, and how he would also preach to them. Yet long before St. Francis, Remigius had shown great love for God's creatures too. Sparrows for example would come to him and peck crumbs out of the palm of his hands whilst this saintly bishop had his meals. Not long after his death his name became associated with the ampulla of chrism oil used in the coronation of French monarchs. It has also been held that Remigius gave Clovis the power of touching the king's evil, which was said to be handed on to the saintly Edward Confessor of Westminster Abbey fame. His mortal remains were translated to the abbey of St. Remi on this day in 1049.
Thus calling Remigius and all the saints to mind should inspire, or rather arouse in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company. We should long to share in the citizenship of' heaven, to dwell with the spirits of' the blessed, to join the assembly of' patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of' Martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we should long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our disposition is often not tune to this. Although the saints want us to be with them, we are so often indifferent. So let the saints spur us on to contemplate more deeply on the things in heaven.
As we thank God for Remigius, the Apostle of the Franks, let us too be faithful to Christ, and witness for Him, in all circumstances of life, however difficult. Let that urgency that was in Remigius,be also a force in us to bring souls to know the redeeming love of Christ.