Medard’s qualifications for sainthood seem to be a little sketchy but, let’s be honest, that was true throughout the Europe of the first millennium! The eagles relate to a legend that they were seen to shelter him from rain when he was a child. Whether this strange event was “discovered” before or after his canonisation we cannot know - but maybe we can guess...
Born in AD457, after a youth of “exceptional piety” he became Bishop of Vermand in Picardy at the age of 33. They were quite “exciting” times with regional wars all the rage in post-Roman Gaul and it seems that he was felt to be an exceptional Bishop. At his death in AD545 (an extraordinary life span of 88 years): “When the procession reached Crouy, which is about three miles from Soissons, the bier became wholly immovable. The king then promised to give half the borough of Crouy to the new church. On trying again to lift the bier, it was found that the half facing the part given to the church was loose and could be moved, but the other half was as fast as ever. Clotaire now promised the whole borough to the church. The bier instantly became so light that it could be lifted and carried without any trouble to its final destination. (Walsh 1897). I acknowledge here Wikipaedia as the source of this quote.
Just to amuse you, because Medard is often depicted with his mouth open so he is seen as patron saint of toothaches. Well it amuses me, anyway!
It seems Medard was a very popular saint in mainland Europe, but in England we have the single dedication at Little Bytham.
St Gildard was added to the dedication here in 1999. Presumably, this was because by some accounts he was Medard’s twin brother - although he died much younger. Frankly he seems to have been canonised only because of his association with his equally thinly-qualified brother.
Fifteen hundred years on we still recognise these shadowy figures from 1500 years ago. We’ve had Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, Einstein, world wars, famine, pestilence and atom bombs in that time. How odd that a pair of obscure French bishops should still have relevance to some people.