The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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September 1, 2000 Issue
Saint of the Day

This good apple fell pretty far from a bad family tree

Intrigue led St. Clodoald from court to hermitage


By Tony Staley
Compass Editor

It's often said - usually to explain bad behavior by someone - that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." The old adage means that if one comes from a bad family, we should expect them to be bad too.

But we also see people who behave quite differently from their relatives. Such was the case with St. Clodoald, also known as St. Cloud or Clou.

St. Clodoald was born in 524. He was the grandson of the Frankish King, Clovis, and was the youngest son of King Clodimir, who in 511 inherited one-fourth of Clovis' kingdom (his three brothers each were given their share of the remainder of Clovis' domain).

Before long, Clodimir murdered his cousin, St. Sigismund of Burgundy, who had been a king, but then became a hermit after he was deposed for killing his own son.

In turn, Sigismund's brother, King Gondomar of Burgundy declared war on Clodimir and in 524 killed him in battle. Clodoald and his two brothers, who were all young children, inherited shares of their father's - Clodimir - kingdom.

To prepare them to become kings, Clodoald and his brothers were raised in Paris by their grandmother, St. Clotilda (the wife of Clovis). The children's uncle, Childebert, served as the regent and ruled in the place of his nephews.

But after a few years, Childebert plotted with another uncle, Clotaire of Soissons, to kill the three brothers and seize the throne. Clodoald was the only brother who managed to escape.

When he came of age, Clodoald, sick of politics and all the murder he had seen in his own family, refused to claim the crown to which he was entitled.

Instead, he became a hermit and a follower of St. Severinus, who in 504 is said to have healed King Clovis of a disease that the doctors were unable to cure.

Eventually, St. Clodoald built a hermitage at Nogent, on the Seine River near Paris, where he offered religious instruction to his neighbors.

His hermitage later became known as St. Cloud. He was living there when he died in 560. We celebrate the feast of St. Clodoald on Sept. 7.

His life reminds us that we can fall far from the tree, if we so choose and with the grace of God. It also reminds us to give others the benefit of the doubt and not to judge them based on the "fruit" of their families.

Sources: Butler's Lives of the Saints, Dictionary of Saints and 365 Saints.



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