The Life of St. GermanusEdit
The main source for his life is the Life of St. Germanus written by Constantius of Lyon around 480, Constantius being a friend of Bishop Lupus of Troyes, who accompanied Germanus to Britain on his first visit there, the events of Germanus’ two visits to Britain to combat Pelagianism accounting for most of the haglography.
The LIfe of St. Germanus explains that Germanus was sent to Britain by other Gaulish bishops because they had been asked to send help to confute the Palagians. Wace in his Roman de Brut and Lawman in his Brut claim that Germanus and Lupus were sent by the unhistoric Pope Romain.
Unfortunately Constantius tells almost nothing about the political situation in Britain, concentrating instead on supposed miracles that Germanus performed.
Germanus’ prayers lead to him and his followers escaping a storm when Germanus first crossed the channel. Germanus refutes the heretics, heals a blind girl, is himself miraculously healed from a lame foot, and leads some British soldiers in an attack by Saxons, where the shouting of “Alleluia” in an echoing canyon is sufficient to rout the foes. In Germanus’ second mission, Germanus heals the withered leg of the son of a man named Elafius and again successfully refutes the Pelagians.
Traditions Relating Germanus to St. PatrickEdit
According to Irish tradition, St. Patrick was one of the followers of Germanus, as told in the old “Hymn on the Life of St. Patrick”. A later account tells how that Patrick was one of Germanus’ followers on his first British excursion. When the people in one the cities refused to turn from Pelagianism, St. Patrick suggested fasting, and on the third day of their fast, the city was swallowed by the earth. Patrick related to Germanus that he had often heard the voice of the Irish children calling to him “come St. Patrick and make us saved”. Germanus told Patrick that he must go to Pope Celestine to be consecrated to that task.
Germanus in the Historia BrittonumEdit
The Historia Brittonum relates how by prayer Germanus destroyed the city of a certain King Benlli from fire from heaven and made Cadell Ddyrnllwg monarch in his place. Germanus successfully proved that King Vortigern had fathered a son on his own daughter, this son apparently being identified as the later Faustus of Riez. Vortigern fled from Germanus and his followers, and it was through the prayers of Germanus, that fire fell from heaven and destroyed Vortigern’s fortress.
Concerning Patrick, the Historia Brittonum relates:
The death of Palladius being known, the Roman patricians, Theodosius and Valentinian, then reigning, pope Celestine sent Patrick to convert the Scots to the faith of the Holy Trinity; Victor, the angel of God, accompanying, admonishing, and assisting him, and also the bishop Germanus.
Germanus then sent the ancient Segerus with him as a venerable and praisewowrthy bishop, to king Amatheus who lived near, and who had prescience of what was to happen; he was consecrated bishop in the reign of that king by the hold pontiff, assuming the name of Patrick, Having hitherto been know by that of Maun; Auxilius, Isserninus, and other brothers were ordained with him to inferior degrees.King Amatheus is a misunderstanding of a bishop named Amathus, Amatorex, or Amator who is said in legend to have made Patrick a bishop.
Of St. GarmonEdit
Some suspect that these tales are really of another St. Garmon, a Welsh saint honored in Gwynedd. Germanus is traditionally credited with the establishment of the Diocese of Sodor and Man on the Isle of Man, though this may also be this other St. Garmon. Churches in Gwynedd dedicated to Garmon are Capel Garmon, Llanarmon, Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, and Llanarmon-yn-Ial.
Some Name VariationsEdit
LATIN: Germanus; FRENCH: Germain, Jermain; ENGLISH: Germain, Germayn; WELSH: Garmon.