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Saint Cadroe


CADROE, Saint (d. 976), abbot of Wassor and St. Felix, near Metz, was bom in Scotland about the beginning of the tenth century; and the history of his life has preserved almost the only materials we have for reconstructing the Scotch social life of this period. According to his contemporary biographer both his parents were of royal, or at least noble, descent. His father, Fochertach or Faiteach, had married a widow, Bania by name, and being without children, the aged couple set out for Hi (Iona), to obtain the intercession of St. Columba by prayers at the saint’s tomb (the manuscript reads Columbanus by a natural mistake' for Columba). Their petition was granted, and in due time a son was bom, to whom his parents gave the name of Kaddroe, in token that he was to be ‘bellator in castris domini invictus.’ Immediately on the child’s birth we are told that, ‘in accordance with the custom of the country, a -crowd of noble people of either sex and of every age came forward eager to undertake the boy’s education.’ In obedience to a second vision Cadroe was handed over to the care of a matron, who brought him up at her own home till he was weaned, and perhaps later, when Fochertach, recognising his son’s promise, began to train him up for a secular career. From this purpose, however, the father was dissuaded by the pravers of Beanus, the child’s cousin (patruelis),who demanded that the boy should be instructed in letters, and who, finding the parents unwilling to lose the child of their old age, renewed his petition with success on the birth of the future saint’s brother, Mattadanus. Accordingly, Cadroe was led by his weeping mother to St. Columba’s tomb, and there formally handed over to his uncle’s care (for St. Columba’s tomb see Skene, ii. 326, &c., who identifies Beanus with St. Bean, patron of the church of Kirkell, on the north bank of the Earn). In his new home Cadroe appears to have studied the scriptures chiefly, but there are not wanting tokens that, as he grew older, the bent of his mind was rather to the active than the contemplative life (Tit. Cad. c. i. 8,9). A sudden change seems, however, to have come upon him while yet a youth, and his ardour for knowledge grew so keen that his uncle despatched him to prosecute his secular studies at Armagh, which at this time (888-927) was governed by Maelbrigda, who was also abbot of Iona (Ann. Ult. 927). Here Cadroe studied poetry, oratory, and philosophy, without neglecting the exacter sciences of number, measure, weight, motion (tactu = tractu), hearing, and astronomy.

Having thus made himself master of all the Irish learning, Cadroe returned to Scotland, and seems to have spent the next few years in imparting the knowledge he had acquired abroad to his countrymen; ‘for the Scots, though they have thousands of teachers, have not many fathers.’ ‘From the time of Cadroe’s return,’ continues his biographer, ‘none of the wise men [had] crossed the sea; but they still dwelt in Ireland’ (Fit. Cad. c. xii.) This obscure, and doubtless corrupt, passage Dr. Skene connects with the first establishment of the Culdees in Scotland (cf. Chr. Scot. sub an. 921). It perhaps marks the gradual severance of the two great Celtic churches of the West (Skene, ii. 325). The effect produced by the labours of Cadroe is clearly shown by the grief of all ages and all classes of men when he announced his intention of leaving Scotland in obedience to a heavenly vision. A curious penance (Vit. Cad. c. xv.) performed in a wintry stream (? the Earn) strengthened his resolution, and he started on his journey disregarding all the efforts of King Constantine to retain him. Entering the church of St. Bridget he bade farewell to the assembled people, and then once more set out on his way under the king’s guidance, with gifts of gold, vestments, and steeds. The scene of this incident seems to have been Abemethy, and the king must be Constantine, the son of iEdb, who reigned from c. 900 to c. 913 a.d. From Abemethy he passed on to his kinsman Dovenald or Donald, ‘ rex Cumbrorum.’ This must be that Donald, king of Strathclyde, and brother to Constantine, who is called ‘rex Britannorum ’in the ‘Pictish Chronicle’ (Chr. of Picts and Scots, pp. xli, xlvi, and 9). Donald conducted Cadroe to Leeds (Loidam civitatem), whence the saint proceeded to King Eric, his kinsman by marriage, at York. This sovereign can only have been Eric, son of Harald Harfsegr, whom vEthelstanhad appointed king of Northumberland c. 938 a.d. (Laing, i. 315, &c.) Thence Cadroe passed on to Lugdina (London), a city which he is credited with having saved from destruction by fire, and so on to visit King ‘Egmund’ at Winchester (Edmund, 940-6). With .this king he had several conversations, after which he was conducted to the port ‘qui dicitur hymen’ or ‘limen’ (Limne, the Roman Portus Lemanis; see Hasted, Kent, iii. 435) by the archbishop Ottho (Odo, archbishop of Canterbury, 942959).

After dismissing his nephew and others of his companions Cadroe landed at Boulogne, whence he journeyed to Peronne to pray at St. Fursey’s shrine. Here his fame reached the ears of Count Eilbert and his wife Hersindis, who, learning that the thirteen strangers desired a spot on which they could devote themselves to agriculture and prayer, offered them a clearing in the ‘ Sylva Theorascensis,’ where a church seems to have been already dedicated to St. Michael. Once settled here the brethren elected Cadroe to be their head, an office however which he refused in favour of Macallanus. A desire soon seized upon the little community of bringing itself into closer conformity with the monastic institutions of the continent; and accordingly Macallanus went to be instructed by Abbot Agenoald at Gorzia (ob. c. 968), and Cadroe to Erchembald at Fleury (abbot 942-51). Here Cadroe became a monk on the day of St. Paul’s conversion (25 Jan.) Meanwhile his patrons had been building a second monastery at Walcidorus (Wassor on the Meuse, near Dinant), and now sent for the two wanderers to return home; whereupon Maccalanus finding himself unable to conduct both establishments, Cadroe was persuaded by royal compulsion to undertake the charge of "Wassor. In 946 A.D. Otto I confirmed the new foundation as a ‘ monasterium peregrinorum ’ to be ruled- by one of the ‘ Scotch ’ strangers so long as a single member of the original community should survive (20 Sept. see Diploma ap. A. Mirseus, 278-9). Somewhat later than this, but, according to Ste. Marthe (xiii. 846, 866), before 948, Adalbero, bishop of Metz, induced Cadroe to accept the ruined abbey of St. Clement or St. Felix, near Metz, which its new abbot restored and repeopled from AVassor (cf., however, Mabillon, Ann. iii. 500.

The latter abbey Cadroe seems henceforward to have ruled by the aid of a prior, paying it visits from time to time. In 948 Cadroe is said to have been made abbot of St. Symphorian at Metz (Ste. Marthe, xiii. 846). Among the list of Cadroe’s friends we find many of the most distinguished men of the age, e.g. Adalbero and his brother Frederic, duke of Lorraine from 959 (Frodoard and Sigebert, ap. Pertz, ii. 402, 404, viii. 511); John, abbot of Gorzia (whose life Cadroe had saved from the effects of undue abstinence), Otto’s ambassador to the Saracens at Cordova; Theodoric. cousin to Otto I and bishop of Metz (964-84), who ‘venerated Cadroe as a father, knowing him to have the spirit of counsel;’ Agenoald, the famous abbot of Gorzia (ob. c. 968); Anstey, abbot of St. Amulf, at Ghent (946-60) ; and Hel-vidis, abbess of St. Peter’s, near Metz, ‘whose like,’ to use Cadroe’s own phrase, ‘he had never found among the persons of her sex.’ Shortly before Cadroe’s death Adelheid, the widow of Otto I, reached Neheristein on her way to Italy, and sent to Metz to invite Cadroe to visit her. This request the saint, who already felt that death was at hand, reluctantly obeyed, and stayed with the exempress' for some six days.

As he was returning a fever seized him, and he died before he could reach his home at Metz, where he was buried in his own church of St. Felix. At this time, as his contemporary biographer tells us, he had already overpassed the seventieth year of his age, and the thirtieth of his pilgrimage. Ste. Marthe (xiii. 866) says more precisely that he died in 978, after a rule of thirty-two years, at the age of seventy-eight or seventy-nine, but without giving any authority for his statement. The ‘Wassor Chronicle,’ a compilation of the twelfth or thirteenth century, makes him die in the year 998 (ap. D’Achery, Spicilegium, vii. 543-4). A careful comparison of all the data at our disposal will make it very evident that 940-2 were the years of his pilgrimage from Abemethy to Winchester. We know that Cadroe started in the reign of Constantine, i.e. probably before 943 a.d. (Skene, i. 360) ; while the mention of Donald, king of Cumberland, helps to fix his visit in this country before 945 a.d. (A.-S. C.) Again, Eric Bloody Axe seems to have been settled in Yorkshire somewhere between the years 937 and 941 (Laing, i. 315, &c.; Bog. Wend. i. 396; A.-S. C. sub 941); for Eric’s second reign in Northumberland was not till some years later (Simeon op Durham, sub 949). Again, on reaching Winchester, Egmund (Edmund, from October 940-6) was reigning, while Otto (Odo) was already archbishop of Canterbury, to which office he was appointed 942 a.d. (Stubbs, Register). Hence it is evident that Cadroe can hardly have reached Peronne much before 943 a.d. This date will allow three years for his stay at St. Michael’s and Fleury previous to his appointment to Wassor in 946.

Beckoning thirty years from this we arrive at the year 976, which may be considered as the approximate date of his death. At all events it is certain from contemporary authority that he stood by the deathbed of John, abbot of Gorzia, who died 973 a.d. (‘Yita Johannis,’ ap. Mabillon, A. SS. B. vii. 365, 366, 379, Ann. Bened. iii. 621). On the other hand, it is evident that he did not survive Theodoric of Metz, who died 983 or 984 a.d. (Sigebert, ap. Pertz, iv. 482). These considerations at once dispose of the Bollandist theory which would identify Adelheid’s visit to Italy, alluded to above, with a journey mentioned by Dithmar, and by him assigned to the year 988 (Dithmar, ap. Pertz, iii. 767, where, however, we read 984, and not 988 a.d.)

[The chief authority for the life of Cadroe is a biography drawn up by a certain Reimann or Ousmann, who, in the preface, claims to have been one of the saint’s disciples and friends. Other phrases in the body of the work indicate that the writer was dealing with almost contemporary events (cf. cc. 29 and 34). This life was undertaken at the request of a certain Immo, in whom we may perhaps recognise Immo, abbot of Wassor from c. 982, or Immo, abbot of Gorzia, c. 984. It was first printed by Colgan in his Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae (pp. 494-507), with copious notes, whose utility however is vitiated by the assumption that Cadroe was an Irishman. The Bollandist editors issued it, with certain omissions, in the Acta Sanctorum of 6 March (pp. 974-81), from which work Mabillon transcribed it for Acta SS. Benedict, vii. 487-501. See also Ste. Marthe’s Gallia Christiana, vols. iii. vii. and xiii. ; Mabillon’s Annales Ordinis Benedictini, vol. iii.; D’Ach^ry’s Spicilegium, vii. (1666) 513-83, contains the Chronicon Valciodorense; Diplomata Belgica, by Albert Le Mire (Mirseus), 1627; No-titia Ecclesiarum Belgii (Le Mire), ed. 1630, pp. 99,119 ; Skene’s Chronicles of the Piets and Scots; and Celtic Scotland, vol. ii.; Forbes’s Kalendars of Scottish Saints, 293-4 ; Lanigan’s Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, iii. 396-402. The continental chroniclers are quoted from Pertz’s Scriptores Rerum Germanicarum; Simeon of Durham from Twysden’s Decem Scriptores; Roger of Wendover has been edited by Coxe for the English Historical Society. Much information as to the exact date of Cadroe’s pilgrimage may be obtained by reference to Robertson’s Hist, of Scotland, i. 66, &c.; Calmet’s Histoire de Lorraine, vol. i.; Laing’s Chronicles of the Kings of Norway, vol. i.] T. A. A.


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