Chrodegang of Metz

Chrodegang of Metz
(c. 712-766)
   Perhaps the most important ecclesiastic in the Carolingian kingdom in the first half of the eighth century, after the Anglo-Saxon missionary Boniface, Chrodegang was a committed church reformer and a close ally of the Carolingian mayor of the palace and later king, Pippin the Short. He assumed the important see of Metz, which one of the founders of the Carolingian line, Arnulf of Metz, once held. Although not as zealous in his commitment to Roman-focused reform as Boniface, Chrodegang nonetheless became papal legate, introduced Roman liturgical forms to the kingdom, visited Rome, and collected important relics from Rome. He helped Pippin with his reforms of the Frankish church and composed an important rule for canons.
   Born into a noble family, Chrodegang had many important family connections throughout the kingdom, including prominent ecclesiastics and aristocrats. His uncle may have been a supporter of the mayor of the palace, Charles Martel, and Chrodegang himself served in the chancery at Martel's court. In 742, the year after Pippin and his brother Carloman succeeded their father, Chrodegang was made bishop of Metz by Pippin and with the Carolingian mayor began the reform of the Frankish church. Over the next several decades, in association with Pippin, Chrodegang introduced improvements to religious life and practice at Metz. He also expanded the size of his church at Metz and built several new episcopal buildings, which could accommodate the Roman liturgical practices and chant that he introduced to the church in the Frankish kingdom. In 748, with Pippin's help, Chrodegang founded the monastery of Gorze near his see of Metz; the new monastery was guided by the bishop's reform principles, and monks from Gorze helped to found new monasteries. While on a trip to Rome sometime between 753 and 755, Chrodegang was made archbishop and papal legate by Pope Stephen II to replace the recently martyred Boniface. He also participated in several church councils held by Pippin that implemented spiritual and institutional reform of church life in the kingdom.
   Chrodegang is best known, however, for the rule of canons (Regula canonicorum) he wrote between 754 and 756. The rule, inspired by and based on the monastic rule of St. Benedict of Nursia, was intended to improve the religious life of the canons at the cathedral church in Metz and was widely adopted throughout the Frankish kingdom in the coming years. The rule, which received official sanction at the Council of Aachen in 816, reflected Chrodegang's monastic temperament. Chrodegang's rule ordered that the canons, clergy serving at a bishop's cathedral church, live in a community with a common place to eat and sleep. They were to care for the sick, possess no personal wealth, and perform the daily round of prayers. The canons were also expected to spend time reading and studying so that they could better perform their preaching duties. Chrodegang's rule was widely copied in his day and remained the most important rule for canons for several centuries after his death.
   See also
 ♦ Knowles, David. Christian Monasticism. New York: McGraw Hill, 1969.
 ♦ Lawrence, Clifford H. Medieval Monasticism: Forms of Religious Life in Western Europe in the Middle Ages, 2d ed. London: Longman, 1989.
 ♦ McKitterick, Rosamond. The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751-987. London: Longman, 1983.
 ♦ Riché, Pierre. The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe. Trans. Michael Idomir Allen. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993.
 ♦ ---. Education and Culture in the Barbarian West: From the Sixth through the Eighth Century. Trans. John Contreni. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1976.
 ♦ Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. The Frankish Church. Oxford: Clarendon, 1983.

Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe. 2014.

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