Honoratus of Marseilles

For other uses, see Honoratus (disambiguation).
Saint Honoratus of Arles
Coverpage woodcut from La vida de sant Honorat arquebisbe de Arles
Born c. 350
Northern Gaul[1]
Died January 6, 429(429-01-06)
Arles, France
Honored in Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast January 16[2]
Attributes represented as a bishop over the island of Lérins with a phoenix below, or drawing water from a rock with his mitre near him [3]
Patronage against drought; against misfortune; against rain; for rain[2]

Saint Honoratus (French: Saint Honorat or Saint Honoré; c. 350 – January 6, 429) was Archbishop of Arles.


There is some disagreement concerning his place of birth, and the date of his death is still disputed, being according to certain authors, January 14 or January 15. It is believed that he was born in the north of Gaul and that he belonged to a consular Roman family.[4] Honoratus received an outstanding education.[5] Converted to Christianity with his brother Venantius, he embarked with him from Marseilles about 368, under the guidance of a holy person named Caprasius, to visit the holy places of Palestine and the lauræ of Syria and Egypt. But the death of Venantius, occurring suddenly at Methone, Achaia, prevented the pious travellers from going further. They returned to Gaul through Italy, and, after having stopped at Rome, Honoratus went on into Provence and, encouraged by Leontius, bishop of Fréjus, took up his abode in the wild Lérins Island today called the Île Saint-Honorat, with the intention of living there in solitude.[1]

Numerous disciples soon gathered around him, including Lupus of Troyes, Eucherius of Lyon, and Hilary of Arles. Thus was founded the Monastery of Lérins, which has enjoyed so great a celebrity and which was during the fifth and sixth centuries a nursery for illustrious bishops and remarkable ecclesiastical writers. His rule was chiefly borrowed from that of St. Pachomius.[4] It is believed St. Patrick trained there for his missionary work in Ireland.[5]

Honoratus's reputation for sanctity throughout the southeastern portion of Gaul was such that in 426 after the assassination of Patroclus, Archbishop of Arles, he was summoned from his solitude to succeed to the government of the diocese, which the Arian and Manichaean beliefs had greatly disturbed. He appears to have succeeded in re-establishing order and orthodoxy, while still continuing to direct from afar the monks of Lérins. However, the acts of his brief pontificate are not known. He died in the arms of Hilary, one of his disciples and probably a relative, who was to succeed him in the See of Arles.[1]

His various writings have not been preserved, nor has the rule which he gave to the solitaries of Lérins. John Cassian, who had visited his monastery, dedicated to him several of his "Conferences".

La Vida de Sant Honorat

In the Middle Ages, Honaratus was the object of a pilgrimage in the Arles region, especially around Lérins Abbey, because of the writings in Occitan of Raymond Féraud (or Raimon Feraud), a monk who composed a mythological life for him around 1300 in Roquesteron.[6]


One of the Lérins islands near the Antibes off the French Riviera is now called St. Honorat in his honor.[5]



  • Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. 3rd edition. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN 0-14-051312-4.
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