Meet Saint Germanus

Germanus of Auxerre - Wikipedia

St. Germanus of Auxerre

We’ve heard a hymn from St. German’s Church in Wales today; now let’s meet St. Germanus, for whom the church is named.

For much of his life Germanus was a high-ranking soldier. He retired to enter the Church and became Bishop of Auxerre, in France. In 429 A.D. he was sent on an inspection tour of Britain, to report on the state of the church and to see if he could do anything to stem the progress of the Pelagian Heresy.

He found the country in good order but dangerously close to falling into chaos. Pagan invaders from the continent were raising armies and putting the Britons to flight. The Britons had no general, so Bishop Germanus took command.

He is credited with engineering “the Alleluiah Battle,” an extremely successful ambush victory that routed the Saxons and–at least temporarily–stopped them from conquering the whole country. [Source: Arthur: Roman Britain’s Last Champion, by Beram Saklatvala, David & Charles, 1967]

In 447 Germanus returned to Britain for another tour. This time he found the Britons holding their own against invaders–Saxons, Picts, and Irish. It is said he found it necessary to rebuke Vortigern–the king charged with leading Britain in her defense–for hiring pagans to fight as allies of the native British troops. If he did, the record shows that Vortigern’s policy proved disastrous to the Britons, resulting in their near-extinction.

Germanus is just one of many saints featured in Britain’s early history, on its way to becoming England. These saints together preserved the Christian Church in Britain and empowered her to send forth missionaries who wound up converting all of Europe and much of the rest of the world besides.

And first they converted the pagans who invaded their country and stayed to help found a new one.

Leave a Reply