Caius Sollius Apollinaris Sidonius was born on November 5, 430, in Lyons, Gaul, to a noble family. He was educated at Ares and was a student of Claudianus Mamertus of Vienne. Later, he married a woman named Papianilla, a daughter of Avitus, who became emperor in the year 455. St. Sidonius lived at the imperial court at Rome, served under many emperors and later became prefect of Rome in 468. The following year, however, after retiring to the life of a country gentleman, he was named bishop of Avernum (Cleremont) against his will, because the people felt he was the only one able to defend the Roman prestige against the Goths. A prolific writer, he was quickly recognized as a leading ecclesiastical authority. He became a benefactor of monks, gave much of his wealth to charities, and provided food to thousands during a great famine. He led the populace against King Euric of the Goths, but was defeated. Cleremont was taken over and Sidonius exiled. He returned in 476 and spent the remainder of his days in Cleremont speaking and writing. Many of his masterful poems exist to this day.
Although a well-educated, great nobleman of wealth and power, Sidonius remained humble and compassionate, always willing to give of his time and talent to others. Our Lord said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” This is because one who has great wealth is usually distracted by it and makes his riches his idol. The rich young lawyer in the Gospel wanted to follow Jesus, but was unwilling to give up his riches. Saint Sidonius, on the other hand, stayed close to Jesus and was a faithful servant of God, and thus did not fall victim to the ways of the world. We should follow his example by making a conscious commitment to always stay close to God and do His will, knowing that sacrifice will lead to holiness.
St. Sidonius, you were a gentleman of great wealth and prestige who could easily have fallen prey to pride and selfishness as so many do. Instead, you remained compassionate and generous to those in need. We thank you, St. Sidonius, for your contribution to the world. We ask for your prayers that we may be ever mindful of others in need as well as careful not to fall victim to selfishness, greed, and power. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Laurence O’Toole (1180), Archbishop of Dublin