St. Cloud [Clodoald]
Grandson of King Clovis of the Franks and youngest son of Clodimir, son of Clovis, who had murdered his cousin St. Sigismund of Burgundy and in turn had been killed fighting Sigismund's brother, King Gondomar of Burgundy, he and his brothers were raised by his grandmother, St. Clotilda; his Uncle Childebert, acted as regent for them. His brothers, Theodoald, ten, and Gunther, seven, were murdered by their Uncle Clotaire of Soissons in a plot with Childebert to seize the throne, but Clodoald, eight, was saved by being sent to Provence. [See more detailed version below.] He became a hermit and a disciple of St. Severinus, made no attempt to claim the throne when he came of age, and later built a hermitage at Nogent near Paris, which in time became known as St. Cloud and where he died. He is also known as St. Clou. In the picture above Saint Cloud is kneeling before the Virgin with the forsaken crown. He is being presented to the Virgin and Child by Sts. Genevieve and Clothilde [Clotilda], his grandmother.
Clotilda was given a religious training by her mother Caretena, who, according to Sidonius Apollinaris and Fortunatus of Poitiers, was a remarkable woman. After the death of Chilperic, Caretena seems to have made her home with Godegisil at Geneva, where her other daughter, Sedeleuba, or Chrona, founded the church of Saint-Victor, and took the religious habit. It was soon after the death of Chilperic that Clovis asked and obtained the hand of Clotilda.
Clotilda, as wife of Clovis, soon acquired a great ascendancy over him, of which she availed herself to exhort him to embrace the Catholic Faith. For a long time her efforts were fruitless, though the king permitted the Baptism of Ingomir, their first son. The child died in his infancy which seemed to give Clovis an argument against the God of Clotilda, but notwithstanding this, the young queen again obtained the consent of her husband to the Baptism of their second son, Clodomir. Thus the future of Catholicism was already assured in the Frankish Kingdom. Clovis himself was soon afterwards converted under highly dramatic circumstances, and was Baptized at Reims by St. Remigius, in 496. Thus Clotildas accomplished the mission assigned her by Providence; she was made the instrument in the conversion of a great people, who were to be for centuries the leaders of Catholic civilization. Clotilda bore Clovis five children: four sons, Ingomir, who died in infancy, and Kings Clodomir, Childebert, and Clotaire, and one daughter, named Clotilda after her mother. Little more is known of Queen Clotilda during the lifetime of husband, but it may be conjectured that she interceded with him, at the time of his intervention in the quarrel between the Burgundian kings, to win him to the cause of Godegisil as against Gondebad. The moderation displayed by Clovis in this struggle, in which, though victor, he did not seek to turn the victory to his own advantage, as well as the alliance which he afterwards concluded with Gondebad, were doubtless due to the influence of Clotilda, who must have viewed the fratricidal struggle with horror.
Clovis died at Paris in 511, and Clotilda had him interred on what was then Mons Lucotetius, in the church of the Apostles (later Sainte-Geneviève), which they had built together to serve as a mausoleum, and which Clotilda was left to complete. The widowhood of this noble woman was saddened by cruel trials. Her son Clodomir, son-in-law of Gondebad, made war against his cousin Sigismund, who had succeeded Gondebad on the throne of Burgundy, captured him, and put him to death with his wife and children at Coulmiers, near Orléans. According to the popular epic of the Franks, he was incited to this war by Clotilda, who thought to avenge upon Sigismund the murder of her parents; but, as has already been seen Clotilda had nothing to avenge, and, on the contrary, it was probably she who arranged the alliance between Clovis and Gondebad. Here the legend is at variance with the truth, cruelly defaming the memory of Clotilda, who had the sorrow of seeing Clodomir perish in his unholy war on the Burgundians; he was vanquished and slain in the battle of Veseruntia (Vezeronce), in 524, by Godomar, brother of Sigismund. Clotilda took under her care his three sons of tender age, Theodoald, Gunther, and Clodoald. Childebert and Clotaire, however, who had divided between them the inheritance of their elder brother, did not wish the children to live, to whom later on they would have to render an account. By means of a ruse they withdrew the children from the watchful care of their mother and slew the two eldest, the third escaped and entered a cloister, to which he gave his name (Saint-Cloud, near Paris).
The grief of Clotilda was so great that Paris became
to her, and she withdrew to Tours where close to the tomb of St.
Martin, to whom she had great devotion, she spent the remainder of her
life in prayer and good works. But there were trials still in store for
her. Her daughter Clotilda, wife of Amalaric, the Visigothic king,
being cruelly maltreated by her husband, appealed for help to her
brother Childebert. He went to her rescue and defeated Amalaric in a
battle, in which the latter was killed, Clotilda, however, died on the
journey home, exhausted by the hardships she had endured. Finally, as
though to crown the long martyrdom of Clotilda, her two sole surviving
sons, Childebert and Clotaire, began to quarrel, and engaged in serious
warfare. Clotaire, closely pursued by Childebert, who had been joined
by Theodebert, son of Thierry I, took refuge in the forest of Brotonne,
in Normandy, where he feared that he and his army would be exterminated
by the superior forces of his adversaries. Then, says Gregory of Tours,
Clotilda threw herself on her knees before the tomb of St. Martin, and
besought him with tears during the whole night not to permit another
fratricide to afflict the family of Clovis. Suddenly a frightful
tempest arose and dispersed the two armies which were about to engage
in a hand-to-hand struggle; thus, says the chronicler, did the Saint
answer the prayers of the afflicted mother. This was the last of
Clotilda's trials. Rich in virtues and good works, after a widowhood of
thirty-four years, during which she lived more as a religious than as a
queen, she died and was buried in Paris, in the church of the Apostles,
beside her husband and children. Her Feast is June 3.
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