Modern stained-glass image of Ricarius in Saint-Riquier Church, Sorrus, Pas-de-Calais
Wikimedia Commons

Ricarius, also Richarius or Riquier, (c. 560 – c. 645), was a French monk, venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church; his memorial day is 26 April. An account of Ricarius’s life, probably written at the end of the 7th century, was shortly afterwards revised by the English scholar and clergyman Alcuin.[1]

Ricarius was born a pagan in the French village of Centula,[2] now known as Saint-Riquier, a commune in the Somme department in Hauts-de-France. He was converted to Christianity by two Irish missionaries, Saints Caidoc and Fricor, whom he had decided to protect from unfriendly locals. According to tradition, the two saints ordained Ricarius,[3] who then worked as a priest in his homeland before journeying to England in an attempt to ransom French prisoners.[1]

On his return from England, Ricarius founded the monastery of Centula in about 638,[2] but only a few years later resigned his position to live as a hermit in the forest near Crézy, today’s Forest-Montiers,[1] with his disciple Sigobert. Following Ricarius’s death, he was buried in a hollowed-out tree, the best that Sigobert could do for him.[3]

Ricarius’s remains were in 980 taken back to his home town, where an abbey was built over his tomb, in the now renamed settlement of Saint-Riquier.[1]