Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume I: January. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Poppo, Abbot of Stavello
ST. POPPO was born in Flanders in 978, and received a pious education, under the care of a most virtuous mother, who died a nun at Verdun. In his youth he served for some time in the army, but even whilst he lived in the world, he found the spiritual food of heavenly meditation and prayer with which the affections of the soul are nourished,1 to be incomparably sweeter than all the delights of the senses, and to give himself up entirely to these holy exercises, he renounced his profession and the world. In a visit which he made by a penitential pilgrimage to the holy places at Jerusalem, he brought thence many precious relics, with which he enriched the church of our Lady at Deisne, now a marquisate between Ghent and Courtray. He made also a pilgrimage to the shrines of the apostles at Rome, and some time after his return, took the monastic habit St. Thierrys near Rheims. Richard, abbot of Verdun, becoming acquainted with his eminent virtue, obtained with great difficulty his abbots consent to remove him tither: and being made abbot of St. Vedasts at Arras, upon the deposition of Folrad, who had filled that house with scandalous disorders, he appointed Poppo procurator. In a journey which our saint was obliged to make to the court of St. Henry, he prevailed with that religious prince to abolish the combats of men and bears. St. Poppo was chosen successively prior of St. Vedasts, provost of St. Vennes, and abbot of Beaulieu, which last he rebuilt. He was afterwards chosen abbot of St. Vedasts, and some time later of the two united abbeys of Stavelo and Malmedy, about a league asunder, in the diocess of Liege; also, two years after this, of St. Maximins at Triers. Those of Arras and Marchiennes were also committed to his care: in all which houses he settled the most exact discipline. He died at Marchiennes, on the 25th of January, in 1048, being seventy years of age. St. Poppo received Extreme Unction at the hands of Everhelm, abbot of Hautmont, afterwards of Blandinberg at Ghent, who afterwards wrote his life, in which he gives a particular account of his great virtues. The body of St. Poppo was carried to Stavelo, and there interred; his remains were taken up and enshrined in 1624, after Baronius had inserted his name in the Roman Martyrology; for Molanus in his Indiculus and Miræus observe that he was never canonized. Chatelain denies against Trithemius that any commemoration was ever made of him in the public office in any of the abbeys which he governed. But Martenne assures us that he was honoured among the saints at Stavelo, in the year 1624. See his life wrote by the monk Onulf, and abridged by Everhelm, abbot of Hautmont. in Bollandus, p. 637. and Martenne, Amplis. Collectio, t. 2. Præf. p. 17.