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Saint Eucher: The hermit of Cadarache who became Bishop of Lyons

-Robert Arnoux

 (Click to view larger version...)
 (Click to view larger version...)
If you meet someone whose first name is Eucher, the chances are that he was born in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, Mirabeau or one of the villages close to Cadarache.

The original Eucher was a Gaul from a rich Lyons family, a Roman Senator and a devout Christian who lived in the 5th century AD. But he held honours and riches in contempt and, renouncing the role of Senator, he decided to withdraw from the world and live as a hermit in the wilderness, while his wife Galla joined a nearby monastery.

The place Eucher chose was the high cliff facing what is now Cadarache. There, he sealed himself in a cave, leaving only a small opening through which his wife would bring him water and bread. His days he spent in praying and fasting; his reputation as a holy man spread throughout the whole land.

When the Bishop of his native Lyons died in 435, the local Christian community decided Eucher would succeed him. But the hermit turned down the offer and a delegation of the faithful had to come to the cliff, tear down the wall of the cave and seize him by force. Eucher was to be Bishop of Lyons, then the capital of Roman Gaul, for the five remaining years of his life. "Holding the earthly world in contempt and aspiring solely to the Heavens, he was among the greatest bishops of his time", writes one his biographers. Eucher is among the revered "Fathers of the Church" whose moral example and theological influence contributed to the establishment of the Christian doctrine.

At the foot of the cliff, a chapel was soon erected in his honour. The one we can see today, almost facing the entrance of CEA Cadarache, was built in the mid-17th century over the remains of the original construction.

The memory of Eucher istill lives on around Cadarache: the cliff is named after him; the village of Sainte-Tulle, 15 miles to the north, bears the name of his daughter Tullia and Roger Pizot, the present mayor of Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, had a grandfather named Eucher.



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