Gal, Saint.—Of the ninety-eight bishops who have occupied the see of Clermont-Ferrand (Auvergne) the sixteenth and the twenty-third bore the name of Gal, and both are numbered among the twenty-nine bishops of this church who are honored as saints. The first and most illustrious was bishop from 527 to 551, the second, from 640 to 650. Born of a senatorial family of Auvergne, the first St Gal early embraced the monastic life, and then became councillor to St Quintianus, whom he was to succeed in the See of Clermont. Thierry I, King of Austrasia, having invaded Auvergne, took Gal prisoner and attached him to the oratory of his palace. He regained his liberty some years later and returned to Clermont. Quintianus having died, Gal was chosen as his successor in 527. As bishop he was the intrepid defender of the rights of the Church against Sivigald, the governor appointed by Thierry, and after Sivigald’s tragic death, the protector of his children from the prince’s wrath. The chief event of his episcopate was the Council of Clermont in 535. Fifteen prelates of the kingdom of Austrasia assisted at it under the presidency of Honoratus, Bishop of Bourges. They drew up seventeen canons, of which the first sixteen are contained in the Decretum of Gratian, and have become laws of the universal Church. The following is a summary of the most remarkable: bishops are prohibited from submitting to the deliberations of councils any private or temporal affairs, before having dealt with matters regarding discipline; clerics are forbidden to appeal to seculars in their disputes with bishops; excommunication is pronounced against bishops who solicit the protection of princes in order to obtain the episcopacy, or who cause forged decrees of election to be signed. The council also declares itself forcibly against the marriages of Christians with Jews, marriages between relatives, and the misconduct of the clergy. In 541 Gal took part in the fourth Council of Orleans, which promulgated energetic decrees for the abolition of slavery, and in 549 in the fifth, which condemned the errors of Eutyches and Nestorius. His feast is celebrated on July 3.
The second St. Gal succeeded St. Ciesarius; he was a man of great sanctity, and was one of the most eminent bishops in Gaul. Little, however, is known of his life. His feast is kept November 1.