Of the early life of Saint Erkembode, who lived in the late 7th and first half of the 8th centuries, nothing is known. It has been surmised that he was an Irish monk who travelled with several companions to Sithiu, now Saint-Omer in northern France where he lived in the monastery. He was a disciple of the abbot at Sithiu, saint Bertin (+709), himself a disciple of saint Columbanus of Luxeuil, the Celtic abbey in the French Vosges mountains. Later Erkembode was elected by the clergy and people as bishop of Thérouanne, while remaining abbot of his abbey. In later times that abbey of Sithiu became part of the Order of Saint Benedict after the Carolingian reforms of Benedict of Aniane.
Meaning roughly "recognised envoy" (much like the word "apostle"), Erkembode comes from a Germanic name, as the region was, till 15th century, part of Flanders, Belgium. The region is now called French Flanders. The name of the see of Erkembode, Thérouanne, was already quoted as the capital of the Morini by Julius Caesar in his Gallic Wars.
After 26 years of episcopacy, in a diocese that extended far into the mainland, Erkembode died on 12 April, though the exact year is moot. and was buried in Saint-Omer Cathedral, where his tomb remains.
His shrine is visited mainly by the parents of crippled children, whom to aid the recovery of their children, they leave tiny pairs of shoes on the saint's tomb, which are periodically cleared away by Roman Catholic cathedral authorities. Pilgrims come from everywhere. His liturgical feast is on April 12/27.
- Paul Guérin ed,, "Saint Erkembode, Evėque de Thérouanne (742)" in Les petits bollandistes: vies des saints, d'après le père Giry.. volume 4, s.v. 12 April.
- James Duffy, Lives of the Irish Saints, vol. 4 (1875).
- Guérin notes the dates estimated by Le Cointe (740), Ferri de Locres (734) and the Bollandists (742).
- [Iperius] "The life of St Erkembode, fourth abbot of Saint-Bertin", Acta Sanctorum, (1863), 12 April, 93–5; it is the source for Paul Guérin ed,, "Saint Erkembode, Evėque de Thérouanne (742)" in Les petits bollandistes: vies des saints, d'après le père Giry.. volume 4, s.v. 12 April.
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