Saint Amator

"Amator" redirects here. For the film, see Camera Buff.
Saint Amator of Auxerre
Died 1 May 418
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Feast 1 May
Attributes bishop with axe and tree

Saint Amator (French) Amadour or Amatre was bishop of Auxerre from 388 until his death on 1 May 418. Saint Amator's feast day is celebrated on 1 May.[1]

Young Amator studied theology, but married a holy woman of Langres, venerated locally as Sainte Marthe, in order to please his parents. After their wedding, they mutually agreed to live together as brother and sister. Martha subsequently became a nun and Amator received the clerical tonsure. He was ordained bishop of Auxerre in 388 and governed the see until his death 30 years later. During this 30-year episcopacy, he built two churches and converted the remaining pagans in his diocese. He introduced the relics of Saint Cyricus into France, thus propagating this saint's cult. He ordained his successor, Saint Germanus, who subsequently wrote a biography of Amator. In the Middle Ages, a certain Stephen also composed a life of Amator, but it is considered a work of fiction. He is depicted as a bishop with an axe and tree.

Amator is sometimes confused with a hermit of legend whose feast day is 20 August. A tradition in Autun also designates him as its first bishop, with an occupancy date of 250, tying him to the seven bishops sent to evangelise Gaul in the time of Decius.

Amator and Rocamadour

The sanctuary of Rocamadour

The commune of Rocamadour is said to have been named after Saint Amator, who is believed to have been the founder of the ancient sanctuary. The crypt Saint-Amadour is situated here. The church of Notre Dame (1479) contains a wooden Black Madonna reputed to have been carved by Amator.

Amadour was identified with the Biblical Zacheus, the tax collector of Jericho mentioned in Luke 19:1-10. He is also thought to have been a servant in the house of the Holy Family, who married St. Veronica, who wiped Jesus' face on the way to Calvary. Driven out of Palestine by persecution, Amadour and Veronica embarked in a frail skiff and, guided by an angel, landed on the coast of Aquitaine, where they met Bishop St. Martial, who was preaching the Gospel in the south-west of Gaul. After journeying to Rome, where he witnessed the martyrdoms of St. Peter and St. Paul, Amadour, having returned to France, on the death of his spouse, withdrew to a wild spot in Quercy where he built a chapel in honour of the Blessed Virgin, near which he died a little later.

Amator's Acts cannot be dated as being older than the 12th century. It is now well established that St. Martial, Amadour's contemporary in the legend, lived in the 3rd not the 1st century, and Rome has never included him among the members of the Apostolic College. The untrustworthiness of the legend has led some recent authors to suggest that Amadour was an unknown hermit or the actual bishop of Auxerre of the same name.

The Portuguese Amator

Confusion is added by the fact that there is also a St. Amator (Portuguese: Amador of Portugal) whose feast day is celebrated on 27 March. He was a hermit of Portugal, and several churches in the diocese of Guarda and elsewhere in Portugal are dedicated to him. A "San Amador" is the patron saint of the Spanish town of Martos.


  1. (Greek) Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀγαπητὸς Ἐπίσκοπος Ὡξέρρης. 1 Μαΐου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
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