#42.7, Weds., March 15, 2023

Historical setting: 602 C.E. On the path to Luxeuil

         Gabe and Greg passed along stories from Charlie, our neighbor, who is now a hunter in these woods.  I had a guess these were the king’s hunting grounds, but in his old age I’d never known him to hunt here. Now my boys are calling Guntram “saint.” I didn’t even know the king was dead, and I surely never would have guessed the king was a saint. I ask.

         Greg tells, “He was fighting the war with the bishops against the heretics of Brittany.”

         “He was fighting a war with the bishops? Against the heretics…?”

         Greg wonders, “Papa, how was it that you once met the king?”

         “I delivered a message for Father Columbanus to King Guntram. It was the king who allowed the Father to use Annegray; and then, in learning of the popularity of the Celtic way he sent Columbanus on here to Luxeuil. But how is it possible Guntram is called a saint?”

         Gabe suggests, “Kings can be saints, can’t they?”

         “Guntram was very clear that his kingdom was the earthly swath of Burgundy, and bishops only held sway in heaven.  He raged at bishops of lesser noble birth than he for infringing on the earthly domain — building castles, keeping wealth, making earthly rules. He scoffed at Roman bishops who took issue with the Celtic Father’s hairstyle and dates for Easter. He felt these earthly rules were his to decide.  And that was the essence of the messages I was delivering. So it is odd you would call him a saint when Church rule says saints are of heaven.”

         The boys tell me, “Guntram was friends with the Bishop of Tours.”

         “I know, but Guntram’s relationship with churchmen was usually purposed with diplomacy. For Guntram “friendships” were strategic – in order to secure his temporal power over the bishops. For example he granted the land for the monasteries in order to maintain control over contested borders of what you have called his ‘hunting grounds.’ He supported one bishop over another to keep the Roman bishops from unifying power. This last son of Clothar the elder, used every earthly means to keep power. But the church rules demand heavenly miracles of saints. So how could Guntram be a saint?”

         Gabe tells something of miracles, “Maybe the miracles were only rumors but when Gregory of Tours wrote them in his book, they were transformed into God’s truth. Books are like that.”

(Continues tomorrow)

Published by J.K. Marlin

Retired church playwright learning new art forms-- fiction writing, in historical context and now blogging these stories. The Lazarus Pages have a recurring character -- best friend of Jesus -- repeatedly waking to life in various periods of church history and spirituality.

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