Saint Arnulf of Metz – our most ancient ancestral line

628

France

The Mullins and Bonner families are directly descended from Charlemagne, King of the Franks, through at least three different lineages: the Wyatt, Ferris, and Bates families. The number of generations between each descendant and Charlemagne is different for each lineage. Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great or Charles I, founded the Carolingian Empire in France and was crowned King of the Holy Roman Empire in 800 CE in Rome. During the crowning ceremony, Charlemagne lay on a red porphyry disc that survives, to this day, in the floor of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The Mullins family is able to travel to Rome and stand on the exact spot where their ancestor was crowned more than 1,200 years ago.

Our lineage to Charlemagne can be traced back even further than his crowning. Saint Arnulf of Metz, France, was Charlemagne's 3rd great-grandfather along the male line. Arnulf (French for "Arnold") was born about 582 CE in Aquitaine, southwest France near Bordeaux. His family was politically powerful, and Arnulf became involved at a young age with the Merovingian court where he served for a number of years, eventually becoming the Bishop of Metz. He was deeply embroiled in various court power struggles and was said to be involved in the murder of Chrodoald, an important leader of the Agilolfings family. In 628, he repented for his past deeds and retired to a hermitage in the Vosges Mountains, near Metz in Eastern France, where he lived the rest of his life as a religious penitent.

Arnulf was canonized not long after his death and several miracles and legends survive him. First, there is a miracle involving beer: A severe epidemic struck Metz, felling many of the town's residents. Arnulf urged the people to stop drinking the town's water and, instead, drink only the beer that the monastery had brewed. Miraculously, the epidemic ended. In retrospect, it seems obvious that the epidemic was due to a water-borne infection, but the scientific method of the Renaissance was a millennium away.

There is also the legend of the fire: Around the time that Arnulf resigned as Bishop of Metz, a fire broke out in the cellars of the Royal Palace. The fire grew quickly, threatening to spread to the town of Metz. Arnulf approached the raging fire, stood in its path, and said: "If God wants me to be consumed, I am in His hands…" he made the sign of the cross. At that moment, it is said, the fire receded.

Finally, there is the legend of the ring. As he grew older, Arnulf became increasingly distressed with his role in the violence that had marked the internecine battles of the royal families. One day he went to a bridge over the Moselle River, removed his Bishop's ring, and threw it into the deep waters. He prayed for God to give him a sign of absolution by returning the ring to him.

Many years later, a fisherman brought a fish to the palace for the Bishop's dinner. When the fish was cut open, the Bishop's ring was found in its stomach. Arnulf is said to have taken this as a sign from God: he resigned as Bishop immediately and retired to a penitent's life in the Vosges hermitage.