Amandus, Saint, one of the great apostles of Flanders; b. near Nantes, in France, about the end of the sixth century. He was, apparently, of noble extraction. When a youth of twenty, he fled from his home and became a monk near Tours, resisting all the efforts of his family to withdraw him from his mode of life. Following what he regarded as divine inspiration, he betook himself to Bourges, where under the direction of St. Austregisile, the bishop of the city, he remained in solitude for fifteen years, living in a cell and subsisting on bread and water. After a pilgrimage to Rome, he was consecrated in France as a missionary bishop at the age of thirty-three. At the request of Clotaire II, he began first to evangelize the inhabitants of Ghent, who were then degraded idolaters, and afterwards extended his work throughout all Flanders, suffering persecution, and undergoing great hardship but achieving nothing, until the miracle of restoring to life a criminal who had been hanged, changed the feelings of the people to reverence and affection and brought many converts to the faith. Monasteries at Ghent and Mt. Blandin were erected. They were the first monuments to the Faith in Belgium. Returning to France, in 630, he incurred the enmity of King Dagobert, whom he had endeavored to recall from a sinful life, and was expelled from the kingdom. Dagobert afterwards entreated him to return, asked pardon for the wrong done, and requested him to be tutor of the heir to the throne. The danger of living at court prompted the Saint to refuse the honor. His next apostolate was among the Slays of the Danube, but it met with no success, and we find him then in Rome, reporting to the pope what results had been achieved.
While returning to France he is said to have calmed a storm at sea. He was made Bishop of Maastricht about the year 649, but unable to repress the disorders of the place, he appealed to the Pope, Martin I, for instructions. The reply traced his plan of action with regard to fractious clerics, and also contained information about the Monothelite heresy, which was then desolating the East. Amandus was also commissioned to convoke councils in Neustria and Austrasia in order to have the decrees which had been passed at Rome read to the bishops of Gaul, who in turn commissioned him to bear the acts of their councils to the Sovereign Pontiff. He availed himself of this occasion to obtain his release from the bishopric of Maastricht, and to resume his work as a missionary. It was at this time that he entered into relations with the family of Pepin of Landen, and helped St. Gertrude and St. Itta to establish their famous monastery of Nivelles. Thirty years before he had gone into the Basque country to preach, but had met with little success. He was now requested by the inhabitants to return, and although seventy years old, he undertook the work of evangelizing them and appears to have banished idolatry from the land. Returning again to his country, he founded several monasteries, on one occasion at the risk of his life. Belgium especially boasts many of his foundations. Dagobert made great concessions to him for his various establishments. He died in his monastery of Elnon, at the age of ninety. His feast is kept February 6.
T. J. CAMPBELL