Romaric, Abbot of Remiremont (d. 653)

Merovingian France was a difficult period for the Church. Although the kingdom formally accepted Christianity with the conversion of King Clovis in 497, and though Benedictine monasticism flourished in the lands of the Franks and has provided the Church with many saints, the Merovingian nobility were probably the most treacherous, cruel and avaricious of all European nobility. High ranking clerics frequently found themselves caught up in the midst of dynastic struggles and blood feuds, sometimes with fatal consequences. The martyrdom of St. Lambert of Maastricht is a good example of this. 

Of all the Frankish sovereigns of the dynasty, Queen Brunhilda was probably the worst. She exiled the famous Irish St. Columbanus, persecuted other clerics, and put to death many nobles who opposed her. One of those who suffered under Brunhilda was a boy called Romaric, whose parents had been put to death by the queen. For a time, Romaric was forced to live the life of a wanderer, roaming from place to place for fear of Brunhilda. Brunhilda was eventually overthrown and put to death, however (613), and the Frankish kingdom fell to Clotaire II (613-629) who rehabilitated Romaric and made him a Count with considerable lands and serfs, though he ended up in the service of Theodebert II of Austrasia and attended to the king at the Luxeuil, we he began to win the favor of the king.

It was while at Luxeuil in the service of Theodebert that Romaric made the acquaintance of the saintly hermit Amatus, who won him over to the service of the Church. Thus converted, Romaric freed all his serfs and bequeathed his land to them. It is a notable testament to the strength of Romaric's holiness that, at the time he freed his serfs, many of these chose to follow him into religious life in order to remain with their saintly former lord.

Together with Amatus, Romaric founded the double-monastery of Remiremont, where both men and women consecrated themselves to the service of God. The monastery of Remiremont was governed by Amatus initially, but the duties of governing it soon fell to Romaric and he held the position of Abbot of Remiremont for the next thirty years.

Though Frankish, Romaric was deeply influenced by the spirituality of the Irish missionaries and held St. Columbanus in particular esteem (Columbanus had died when Romaric was a boy after being famously driven from France by Brunhilda). His monastery of Remiremont was known as a center of holiness and learning and drew many pious souls to its walls. One of the most famous students of St. Romaric was St. Arnulf of Metz, who went on to become one of the most famous saints of the Merovingian epoch.

Romaric's monastic life was thankfully free from many of the troubles that plagued other abbots. He won a reputation for sanctity and attempted to stay aloof from the political and dynastic squabbles of the age. That's not to say he closed his eyes to injustice; later in life, upon hearing that a cadre of nobles and bishops were about to exclude the legitimate heir from inheriting the Austrasian throne, the aged abbot left Remiremont and rebuked them. He died shortly thereafter in 659. 

The current structure at Remiremont dates from the late Gothic period. His feast is celebrated on December 8th.