Judoc, Prince and Hermit

December 13 is the Feast of Saint Judoc (Welsh: Iudog; Latin: Iudocus; English: Joyce).
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“Saint Judoc or Saint Josse (traditionally 600–668) was a seventh-century Breton noble and Catholic saint, who sought the protection of Aymon, a predecessor of the counts of Ponthieu, to live as a hermit and renounce the crown of Brittany, in a place then called either Sidraga or Schaderias or Runiacum, located in the coastal forest near the mouth of the River Canche. He travelled to Rome along the via Francigena, returning safely shortly before his death.
According to tradition, Judoc was the son of a Prince Juthael, a King of Brittany. In about 636, Judoc renounced his inheritance and wealth, and went on a pilgrimage to Rome. Whilst there, he was ordained a priest, and became a hermit in Ponthieu, in a place called Saint-Josse-sur-Mer. Judoc died here, and it was maintained that his body was incorruptible. Apparently his followers would cut his beard and hair as it continued to grow.
Saint Judoc, never formally canonised, developed a local cultus. The Abbey of Saint-Josse, beginning as a small monastery on the site of his retreat, was built in the eighth century at the place where Judoc’s shrine was kept. In 903, some monks of the abbey, fleeing the Norman raiders, took refuge in England, bearing his relics. The tradition of the New Minster of Hyde at Winchester (founded 901), was that the relics were translated there by St Grimbald, and the date was commemorated annually, on 9 January. These feasts were accorded high rank at the cathedral.
From England, the veneration of Saint Josse spread through the Low Countries, Germany and Scandinavia, regions where variations of Josse, Joos, Joost, and the diminutive Jocelyn, etc. became popular names for both men and women, and chapels and churches were dedicated to him. The mal Saint Josse was the term for the ills resulting from snakebite, against which the saint’s name was invoked by the fifteenth-century French poet Eustache Deschamps in an imprecatory ballade: “…Du mau saint Leu, de l’esvertin, Du saint Josse et saint Matelin… soit maistre Mahieu confondus!”. According to Alban Butler, the abbey was given by Charlemagne to Alcuin and functioned as a hostel for those crossing the English Channel; it became a centre of pilgrimage, especially popular with Flemish and Germans in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
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A 16th-century portrayal of Saint Judoc by the Master of Meßkirch.

La vie de Saint Josse was written in Old French verses by the learned and competent poet and translator Pierre de Beauvais in the thirteenth century.
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The Suaire de St-Josse, the “Shroud of Saint Judoc ” that is now conserved in the Musée du Louvre is a rich silk samite saddle cloth that was woven in northeastern Iran, some time before 961, which was used to wrap the bones of Saint Judoc when he was reinterred in 1134. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suaire_de_Saint-Josse

The abbey was closed in 1772, sold and then dismantled in 1789, leaving no traces of the monumental buildings; the abbey church became the parish church of the French commune of Saint-Josse.”
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Prince Judoc (or Josse, as he was commonly called) was educated at the monastery of San Maelmon. On the abdication of his brother, Prince Judicael of Domnonee, around 636, Judoc immediately ascended the throne of Domnonia in Brittany. He asked for eight days to reconsider his high position, and he decided that he (like his brother, St. Judicael) preferred the ascetic life. He fled to Ponthieu where he became chaplain to the local Count. Judoc later retired from the World to Ray where he set up a small hermitage. When too many pilgrims became to press him for cures, the Saint relocated to Caer-Runiac (now Saint-Josse-sur-Mer), where he lived for 13 years. He also lived some time in the valley of Pidrague, then travelled to Rome on a sacred pilgrimage. Some time after his return, on 13th December 675. our holy father Judoc reposed in Christ. His holy bones were enshrined at Saint-Josse, but in the year 902 they were taken to the New Minster (new monastery) at Winchester, and thus the Saint was popularly known and liturgically commemorated in England.
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The Relics of Saint Judoc originally in the New Minster in Winchester was a royal Benedictine abbey founded in 901 in Winchester in the English county of Hampshire: see http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=38095

See further http://www.saint-josse-europe.eu/index.php?id=6


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