St Sola, Hermit

December 3 is the Feast of Saint Solo (Sualo, Solus), Hermit.
“This saint was an Englishman, who, following St. Boniface into Germany, became his disciple, and the faithful imitator of his virtues, and was ordained priest by him. Called by the sacred impulse of the Holy Ghost into the desert, the more securely to find the narrow way that leads to life, by the advice of his experienced master, he retired into the wilderness of Solenhoven upon the banks of the river Altmona, near Ayschstat, where, in a little cell, remote from man, he passed his days with God, making penance and holy prayer his only business. After the martyrdom of St. Boniface, the holy brothers, Willibald, the bishop, and Wunebald, the priest, were his patrons, and often visited him to kindle in their souls the flame of his heavenly desires by his spiritual conversation. King Charles bestowed on him a considerable piece of land; but the saint transferred it on the abbey of Fulde. That prince took every occasion of testifying the highest esteem for his sanctity; but the man of God was dead to all human honours and applause, and showed by his conduct that the whole world is nothing to one who seeks God alone. He departed to our Lord on the 3rd of December, in 790. A chapel was built where his oratory had stood, and his body was taken up and enshrined by the authority of Pope Gregory IV., about the year 830. See his life written by Ermenoldus, in 840, in Canisius, Lectiones Antiqu. t. 3, and Mabill. Sæc. 3. Ben.”
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XII: December. “The Lives of the Saints” (1866).

Sola, who lived in the eight century, was born in England. We know nothing of his early life, but eventually he became a monk and migrated to Germany.
In Germany, Sola became a follower of Boniface, who later ordained him. Following ordination, Sola lived as a hermit near Fulda, and then at Eichstaat.
Many people sought Sola’s guidance, and numerous individuals stayed on with him. Eventually, he founded the abbey of Solnhofen, and he died there on December 3, 794.
“Sualo [St Sualo, Solus] (d. 794), hermit, was one of the pilgrim Anglo-Saxon religious who travelled to the continent in the eighth century. Knowledge of him depends on a life written between 839 and 842 by Ermanric (d. 874), a monk of Ellwangen who later became bishop of Passau. Ermanric wrote at the request of his friend Gundram, a monk of Fulda who administered Sualo’s cell for that abbey, and claimed to derive his information from an old servant of Sualo. Ermanric’s Latin style is poor, however, and his information often demonstrably defective. His mistake in thinking that Sualo’s name could appropriately be equated with the Latin solus, meaning ‘alone’, is typical.

According to Ermanric, Sualo came to Germany in the wake of his master, Boniface, who ordained him priest. Before the latter’s death in 754, Sualo undertook the life of a solitary: memory of his cell is preserved in the name of the village of Solnhofen, on the River Altmuhl some 10 miles west of Eichstätt, the see of Boniface’s English appointee Willibald. Ermanric claims that his cell was bestowed on Sualo by Charlemagne. Twelfth-century sources report that Willibald’s brother Winnebald, abbot of Heidenheim, gave Sualo other estates in the area. He passed all his property to Boniface’s foundation of Fulda on his death in 794. His day is traditionally kept on 3 December.”


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