- John of Gorze
name= Saint John of Gorze
death_date=March 7, 974
Roman Catholic Church
birth_place= Vandières, Meurthe-et-Moselle
Saint John of Gorze (Jean de Gorze, John of Lorraine) (ca. 900—
March 7, 974) was a Lorraine-born monk, diplomat, administrator, and monastic reformer.
John of Gorze was born at Vandières near
Pont-à-Moussonto parents who were wealthy and well-known in the area. His father had married late in his life to a woman much younger than he. They had three children together. John's parents were able to provide for his education, and he studied at the Benedictinemonastery of Saint-Mihielin Metz. The tradition of scholarship was strong here; John's instructor was Hildebold, who had studied at Parisunder Remi d'Auxerre(Parisse, "La vie de Jean", 7-8).
At the age of twenty, he had already formed relationships with powerful figures of the region, including Count
Ricuinof Verdun, and Dado, bishop of Verdun.
He became a
Benedictinemonk at the Gorze Abbeyin 933 after renouncing his wealth as an administrator of landed estates and making a pilgrimageto Romeand Monte Cassino.
At the Abbey of Gorze
Having found no
monasterywith a strict enough discipline, John had formed relationships with like-minded men, such as Einald, formerly archdeaconof Toul. In 933, Bishop Adelbero of Metz(929-962) had asked John and Einald to restore and reform the decayed monastery of Gorze. Einald became abbotand John became his principal assistant. The number of monks at Gorze increased, and the Gorze reform movement spread to other monasteries. In 950 Pope Agapetus IIasked monks from Gorze to restore discipline in the monastery of St. Paul in Rome.
He is reputed to have had a
photographic memory, and also developed a bookkeepingsystem and capital investmentpolicies (Dennis K. McDaniel, "John of Gorze: A Figure in Tenth-Century Management"). It was claimed that the murmur of his lipsreading the Psalmsresembled the buzzing of a bee. [http://www.sicetnon.com/textflorilegium/reading.htm]
Mission to Spain
In 953, he was sent as
ambassadorfor Emperor Otto II to the Caliph Abd-ar-Rahman IIIof Córdoba for two years. John had travelled by way of Langres, Dijon, Lyon, Avignon, and Barcelona(Parisse, "La vie de Jean", 17). From Barcelona, he had proceeded to Tortosa, then Zaragoza, and finally Córdoba.
The purpose of this mission was to stop the attacks made by Andalusian adventurers from their base at
Fraxinet. John of Gorze arrived in 953-954 with his companions at Córdoba with a letter from Otto as well as valuable gifts. John lived in a palaceclose to the caliphal palace in Córdoba.
The caliph's ambassador,
Hasdai ibn Shaprut, met with this embassy. The caliph, fearing that the letter of the German emperor might contain matter derogatory to Islam, commissioned Hasdai to open the negotiations with the envoys. Hasdai, who soon perceived that the letter could not be delivered to the caliph in its present form, persuaded the envoys to send for another letter which should contain no objectionable matter. John of Gorze said that he had "never seen a man of such subtle intellect as the Jew Hasdeu" ("Vita Johannis Gorziensis," ch. cxxi., in G. H. Pertz, " Monumenta Germaniæ", iv. 371). An English translation of his account is published as ‘Niceties of diplomacy (953-56)', in "Christians and Moors in Spain", trans. and ed. Colin Smith, Warminster, 1988, vol. I, pp. 62-75.
John, who contacted local
Mozarabs, met Bishop Recemundus, who was acquainted with Islamic learning. When John returned to Lorraine, he brought with him manuscripts from Spain that made that duchy a center for the diffusion of Muslim learning and science. [http://www.muslimheritage.com/timeline/chronology.cfm]
He became abbot of Gorze in 960 upon the death of Einald of Toul. He died of
His feast day is
February 27. John (Jean), abbot of St. Arnulph (Saint-Arnoul) at Metz, wrote a life of Gorze.
*Jean, Abbot of Saint-Arnoul, "La vie de Jean, abbé de Gorze. Présentée et traduite par Michel Parisse" (Paris, Picard, 1999).
*en icon [http://www.catholic-forum.com/SAINTS/saintj5c.htm John of Gorze]
*en icon [http://www.arabcin.net/areen/areen_english/26/book.htm Exchanges of embassies between the Emperor Otto the Great and the Caliph an-Nasir]
*en icon [http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/encyc/encyc06/htm/iii.lvii.lxx.htm Christian Classics Ethereal Library: John of Gorze]
*de icon [http://www.bautz.de/bbkl/j/Johann_v_gor.shtml Johann von Gorze]
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