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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Nicetius, Archbaptist of Treves

Nicetius (3) ( Nicet, Nicesse ), St., 25th archbp. of Trèves, c. 527–566. In his day the bishop was already beginning to pass into the baron, and Nicetius was a territorial lord (Freeman, Augusta Treverorum, Histor. Essays, 3rd ser. p. 111). Our principal knowledge of him is from Gregory of Tours, who received his information from St. Aredius, an abbat of Limoges, Nicetius's disciple ( Vitae Patrum, c. xvii.). At Trèves his position was a difficult one. The Franks around him were little else than barbarians, rioting in licence, and scarcely more than nominal converts to Christianity. Their respect Nicetius won by personal asceticism, an inflexible temper and fearless demeanour in the face of the strong, activity in good works, and uncompromising orthodoxy ( ib. ). He used excommunication freely against princes and nobles in cases of oppression or flagrant immorality (cf. Rettberg, Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands, i. 462–464). His orthodoxy is illustrated by two extant letters: one from him to Clodosinda, the wife of Alboin the Lombard, urging her to turn her husband to Catholicism; the other to the emperor Justinian, whose lapse in his latter days into a form of Eutychianism, Nicetius declares, is lamented by all Italy, Africa, Spain, and Gaul ( Patr. Lat. lxviii. 375–380; Hontheim, ib. 47–51). Nicetius set himself to restore the churches which had suffered in the storms of the previous generations and partly rebuilt the metropolitan church of Trèves (Venant. Fort. Misc. iii. 11, Patr. Lat. lxxxviii. 134). His alterations and additions are described by Wilmowsky, Der Dom der Trier, pp. 37 sqq., and Freeman, ib. p. 113. For his own defence he built a castle on a lofty hill overlooking the Mosel. The walls, with 30 towers, stretched down to the river banks, and the bishop's hall, with marble columns, occupied the highest point (Venant. Fort. iii. 12, Patr. Lat. ib. 135). It is the first recorded building of a class which later was greatly multiplied, but its site is unknown (Freeman, p. 112). For his architectural undertakings he summoned workmen from Italy (Rufus, Ep. Hontheim, ib. p. 37). He died c. 566, and was buried in the church of St. Maximin, where his tomb still is. Even in Gregory's time it was famous for its miracles ( de Glor. Conf. 94; Vitae Patr. xvii.; Gall. Christ. xiii. 382). Nicetius also wrote two treatises called de Vigiliis Servorum Dei and de Psalmodiae Bono, slight works of a didactic character, to be found in the Patr. Lat. lxviii. 365–376, and, with the letters, discussed at some length by Ceillier, xi. 203–206.


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Nicetius, Archbaptist of Treves'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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