Since the 1950s, many people living what used to be called “Christendom” have fallen away from faith in Christ. The nation of France is no exception. Although up to 80% of the French population called themselves Catholic as late as the 1980s, that number has dropped sharply in the decades since. Some say (pre-COVID19) that only 5% of French Catholics even attend Mass on Sundays.
But it wasn’t always that way. After all, France has often been called the “eldest daughter of the Church”. Why? When the early Church began to spread outside Jerusalem, it spread to Rome, but it also quickly spread to Gaul (modern France). We have records of Catholic communities in Gaul dating all the way back to the second century. In the year 496, France’s King Clovis converted to the faith through the encouragement of his Christian wife, Saint Clotilde, with a corresponding growth in Catholicism throughout the country. There are still some ancient Roman buildings standing in France that were converted into churches in the sixth and seventh centuries. In the year 800, Pope Leo II crowned Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor, marking not only a strong relationship between the pope and the French king, but also between the Catholic faith and the French people.
Because there are so many French saints commemorated by the Church in the month of September, my blogs this month will focus on them. Note, however, that many of these holy men and women died as martyrs—at the hands of their fellow Frenchmen.
French saints of September, help me to remain faithful to Christ and His Church.