Saint Gengulphus was a Burgundian knight of Varennes-sur-Amance in the present
département of Haut Marne, France. He was a man of outstanding piety and
charitableness who served as a soldier under Pepin the Short, and whose martyrdom took the unusual form of being murdered (ca 760) by his wife’s lover. His name is entered as a saint and martyr in the Roman Martyrology on 11th May, which is generally accepted to have been the date of his death. Whilst being particularly regarded as the patron saint of deceived husbands and unhappy marriages, St Gengulphus also has traditional assocations with shoe-makers, tanners, glove-makers, horsemen, knights and huntsmen.
See http://gengulphus.org for more information on this secular saint. This is a site – offline for several years – retrieved from Google cache with permission from the author and put online again. However, many links do not work. We hope to make this site more receptive by transferring its content to gengulphus.com (this site) in the coming year (2020). We will definitely add more information on the music of the office of the Saint. Eventually the gengulphus.org site will be removed in favour of the new site.
In this day and age of increasing numbers of divorces, broken and unhappy marriages it seems appropriate to try to breathe some new life into this neglected cultus. We are researching the music for the office of St Gengulphus at present. It appears that most of the office music written for St Gengulphus has not been sung for over 500 years. Here and there a Magnificat antiphon and a commerative prayer – very little more.
The Psalterium Foundation is very thankful to Paul Trenchard (author/researcher of all the text in gengulphus.org – a most serious research effort!) for permission to retrieve this site from Google cache and to expand and utilize it as an instrument to market our planned recording of the St. Gengoux office in 2020. And, for what it’s worth, to encourage – perhaps – a revival in devotion to St. Gengulphus to support those today faced with marital challenges.
We are pleased to include below Paul Trenchard’s own foreword (written in 2006) in the original site location.
It would be disgraceful if the light of so good and great a man
were to remain concealed under the bushel of silence, and not be published… (Vita I)
So wrote the anonymous author of the C10th prose life of St Gengulph. It has, however, been the fate of this saint that the earliest biographical material relating to his life has not been readily available to the ordinary reader. This is because the subject matter – though full of historical and human interest – contains elements which previous ages have considered indelicate or distasteful. The great French literary historian Alexis Paulin Paris, for example, reflected a widespread opinion when in 1841 he referred to ‘l’histoire assez peu édifiante de S. Jangon‘,a whilst the Revd Sabine Baring-Gould in his monumental Lives of the Saints, wrote even more decisively, ‘It is impossible, even in Latin,b to give the account of the miraculous punishments inflicted on the murderer and the [saint’s] wife’.c
That however was 1872. Today it would be not only disgraceful but absurd if our knowledge of this great man – a military leader of early Carolingian France; a companion of Pepin the Short; a significant figure in the religious history of Burgundy, and a saint of outstanding generosity and patience whose cultus extends widely through six countries of western Europe and beyond, were to be restricted by sensitivities derived from the age of the crinoline.
It should be stressed, moreover, that those elements of St Gengulph’s story which some ages have found coarse or unedifying are connected not with the exemplary life of the saint himself, but with the retribution visited upon his adulterous wife and her lover – who would win a perverse and ironic victory if the nature of the punishments inflicted upon them was allowed to eclipse the merits and sanctity of their victim.
The Saint first came to my notice in 1964 when, on inheriting my grandfather’s copy of the Ingoldsby Legends, I discovered with delight the Revd R. H. Barham’s burlesque but safely sanitized Lay of St Gengulphus. Now, after an acquaintanceship of more than forty years, it is with pleasure that I attempt in this small way to reverse his unjustifiable neglect.
Urbs Sancti Jangulfi
a Les Manuscrits François de la Bibliothèque du Roi. pp 88-89
b My own italics.
c Baring-Gould s.d. 11th May