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On the Kalendar: Saint Evurtius, Bishop of Orleans

September from Les Petites Heures d'Anne de Bretagne

“September”, kalendar page from Les Petites Heures d’Anne de Bretagne (The Little Hours of Queen Anne of Bretagne), by the Maître des Triomphes de Pétrarque. From Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris (France).

Saint Evurtius is something of a cipher. Almost nothing is known about him. He was apparently highly revered as Bishop of Orleans, enough so that Saint Aignan (another obscure saint) was drawn from his hermitage near Vienne (a city in Nouvelle-Aquitane, France, not Vienna, Austria) to receive guidance in religious life. Evurtius ordained Aignan a priest, and Aignan eventually succeeded Evurtius as bishop. (Evurtius supervised the choosing of his own successor, and he died shortly after Aignan’s consecration.)

Evurtius is sometimes called Enurchus, as a result of a misreading of an abbreviation in the York Kalendar, where it appears as “Euurci”. The first ‘u’, a common Elizabethan manner of writing ‘v’, was mininterpreted as ‘n’. (Also notable is that this commemoration was associated with 17 September, not 7 September.) owing to vagaries of Renaissance spelling, the saint’s name also appears as “Eurcii” and “Ewrci” (these being genitive versions of his name).

Evurtius appeared in specifically French Kalendars, but not in the Roman Kalendar; in England he only appeared in the York Kalendar, and not in the Sarum Kalendar. He made his way into the Prayer Book Kalendar in 1604, apparently to do honour to Queen Elizabeth’s birthday, 7 September, which was otherwise lacking a commemoration.

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