Hospitius the Hermit

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Our venerable and God-bearing Father Saint Hospitius, anciently Saint Sospis, and in French Saint Hospice, was a French hermit who according to tradition had been a monk in his native Egypt towards the beginning of the 6th century, before settling in Gaul, and later was honoured by the Triune God with the gifts of prophecy and wonderworking abilities.[1][2] The authority for his life is Gregory of Tours, who places him in the reign of Childebert (570-95), and only a little earlier than his own time.[3]


From Egypt, he immigrated to Gaul and retired in the ruins of an old tower near Villefranche-sur-Mer, a few miles east of Nice in Provence, on the peninsula of Cap Ferrat. The peninsula is still called after him as Cap-Saint-Hospice or Cap-Saint-Sospis .

To increase his asceticism he girded himself with an iron chain, in penance for the many sins he confessed to have committed, and lived only on bread and dates.[1][3][4] During Lent he redoubled his austerities, and, in order to conform his life more closely to that of the anchorites of Egypt, ate nothing but root vegetables.[2]

He foretold the ravages which the Lombards would make in 575 in Gaul,[note 1] and advised the religious of a nearby monastery to flee to at once. They said they could not resign themselves to abandon him, but he replied that although the invaders would insult him, they would not kill him. When the barbarians came to the tower in which Hospitius lived, on seeing the chain with which he was bound, they mistook him for a criminal who was imprisoned there. When they questioned him, he acknowledged that he was indeed a great sinner and unworthy to live, whereupon one of the soldiers lifted his sword to strike him. God, however, did not desert His faithful servant; the soldier’s arm stiffened and became numb. It was not until Hospitius made the sign of the cross over it that he recovered the use of it. This soldier embraced Christianity, renounced the world and spent the rest of his days in serving God.[2]

Saint Hospitius foretold his death and was buried by his friend, Austadius, Bishop of Cimiez. When he felt that his last hour was nearing, he asked the monks of the nearby monastery to send word to Bishop Austadius that he was going to die, so that he might see to his burial. He took off his chain and knelt in prayer for a long time. Then, stretching himself on a little bank of earth, he passed away peacefully and gave up his soul to God, on the peninsula of Cap Ferrat in A.D. 581.[1][2][5][note 2]

His relics were translated to Lérins on May 21,[5] the day on which his feast is now celebrated.


Saint Hospitius is still venerated in Nice at the Cathedral of Saint Reparata. The Cathedral Church possesses a small bone of his hand; other relics are kept in the churches of Villefranche-sur-Mer, La Turbie, and San-Sospis.


  1. In 574 and 575 the Lombards invaded Provence, then part of the Kingdom of Burgundy of the Merovingian Guntram.
  2. According to other sources he passed away in A.D. 681.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 (Greek) Ὁ Ὅσιος Ὁσπίτιος ὁ Ἐρημίτης. 21 Μαΐου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 John Gilmary Shea. Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints. Benziger, 1894.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rev. Charles Hole. HOSPITIUS, ST. In: William Smith and Henry Wace. A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines. Volume III: Hermogenes-Myensis. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1882. Page 174.
  4. Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). May 21 - St. Hospitius, or Sospis, Recluse in Provence. The Lives of the Saints. Volume V: May. 1866. (Bartleby.com).
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hospitius May 21. Latin Saints of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome.


  • Great Synaxaristes: (Greek)
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ὁσπίτιος ὁ Ἐρημίτης. 21 Μαΐου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.