This information was based on a visit to St. Clair-sur-Epte, France made by
Susan M. Grady and Dr. A. Dane Bowen, Jr. on June 26, 2002. The mayor of St.
Clair-sur-Epte gave them information written in French that was used in the
preparation of this report. I also was given information by Mr. Philippe
The Hermit St. Clair was born in Rochester, Kent County, England around 845
A.D. His parents were wealthy. His father wanted him to marry a noble lady.
He refused to do so. He became a Christian and a hermit. God spoke to the
Hermit St. Clair and told him to leave England and go to northern France.
God wanted the hermit to serve Him in France. The Hermit St. Clair therefore
fled to France. He moved from place to place. He was gifted at healing
people's eye diseases and alleviating their mental distress.
Finally, he and his disciple, St. Cyrin, settled in St. Clair-sur-Epte,
fifteen miles southwest of Gisors (Gisors is forty miles southeast of Rouen),
France. He lived next to a well whose water was able to cure eye diseases.
(The well is in a park in St. Clair-sur-Epte.)
The English lady sent two
knights to France to find the hermit and kill him since the hermit had
refused to marry her. On November 4, 884 A.D. these knights rode into St.
Cliar-sur-Epte and asked the hermit, "Do you know a man named St. Clair?"
The hermit replied, "No."
As the knights were leaving the village, the
hermit called them back. The hermit said, "I am the person you seek." The
hermit felt that he had committed a sin against God by lying to the knights.
One of the knights beheaded the hermit with his sword.
The place where this
act took place is in a walled enclosure with a gate. The enclosure is across
from the well.
After he was beheaded, the Hermit St. Clair dipped his head
in the water of the holy well, carried his head in his hands and walked to
the center of St. Clair-sur-Epte where there was a small church. He entered
the church and lay down to the left of the altar, where his tomb is today.
The church is on the "Place Rollon", the main square of St. Clair-sur-Epte.
The construction of the present church began in the 9th Century A.D.
Formerly, the saint's bones were in a box suspended by chains from the
ceiling of the church. Now, just to the left of the altar in the front of
the church, the hermit's bones are in a clear glass case covered by a white
The hermit's head is not there. The knights had to take his
head back to England and show it to the noble lady in order to prove they had
killed the hermit. Once she had seen the head, she would have given them a
reward for killing the hermit. The ship in which the knights were traveling
sank crossing the English Channel and the head was lost.
In the window above
the glass case is a stained glass window, installed after World War I,
commemorating the signing of the Treaty of St. Clair-sur-Epte between Rollo
the Viking and King Charles the Simple of France in 911 A.D.
feast day is July 16. On that day the case containing his bones is taken out
of the church and paraded around the town.
To the left of the church on the Place Rollon is the mayor's office "La
Mairie." You have to go up a flight of stone stairs to reach it. There is a
French flag on top of the building. The people who work in the mayor's
office will open the church for you and will open the enclosure that
surrounds the place where the Hermit St. Clair was beheaded.