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Saint Medard

Saint Medard is also known as Saint Medardus and was born in 456 at Salency in Picardy. His mother was of Roman origin (a family that settled in Gaul) and his father was of noble Frankish origin. 20 years after his death, the last Western Roman Emperor (Romulus Augustus) was deposed in by a coup. Not long after this event, the Salian Frankish King Clovis I united several states to form the Kingdom of Francia.

Saint Medard was ordained at 33, and in 530 the Bishop of Alomer died with Saint Medard chosen as his successor. He devoted himself totally and completely to his role as bishop. Because of the war torn landscape of northern France at the time, he moved the episcopal see from Vermand to Noyon in 531. A year later, Saint Eleutherius, Bishop of Tournai died and Saint Medard was invited to assume direction of Saint Eleutherius' diocese as well. Both dioceses would remain united for nearly 500 years, only separating in 1146.

When he passed in 545, King Clotaire visited his body at Noyon and had it transferred to the manor of Crouy near Soissons. A Benedictine Abbey was founded on top of his remains - the Abbey of Saint Medard. We find the story written as:

When the procession reached Crouy, which is about three miles from Soissons, the bier became wholly immovable. The king then promised to give half the borough of Crouy to the new church. On trying again to lift the bier, it was found that the half facing the part given to the church was loose and could be moved, but the other half was as fast as ever. Clotaire now promised the whole borough to the church. The bier instantly became so light that it could be lifted and carried without any trouble to its final destination. (Walsh 1897)

A legend attested to Saint Medard tells of him being sheltered from rain by an eagle that hovered over him during his walk. This legend associated him with protection against bad weather. A French rhyme describing this is:

Quand il pleut à la Saint-Médard, il pleut quarante jours plus tard (If it rains on St Medardus' Day, it rains for forty days more)

Because he was often depicted laughing with an open mouth, he is frequently invoked against toothaches. Every year at Salency near Noyon France, the townspeople elect "the most virtuous young girl of the year" and titled the Rosiere. It is held that Saint Medard began the tradition himself as bishop, with the first Rosiere being his sister - Saint Medrine. The Rosiere is escorted to mass by 12 young girls and 12 young boys and crowned with a crown of 12 roses. She then presents herself to the mayor, who presents her with a bouquet of roses, two arrows, two tennis balls and a whistle. After blowing the whistle three times, she throws nuts to the crowd and the entire event is followed by a massive fair and festival. The Rosiere is also granted a sum of money which is a continuation of the stipend or scholarship Saint Medard started as bishop.

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