You May Not Know: St. Adjutor of Vernon

(his name is pronounced add-jah-tehr)

A French nobleman, Adjutor was raised and educated in a monastery founded by a monk named Bernard of Tiron (who later becomes a saint himself). When fully grown, Adjutor followed in the footsteps of the rest of his noble family and became a knight. When Pope Urban II came to France in 1095 to launch the First Crusade to liberate the Holy Land from Muslim rule, Adjutor took the cross and with a company of 200 men, left his beloved France to defend the holy sites of Jerusalem.

His favorite saint was St. Mary Magdalene (the patron saint of France), and he invoked her intercession often. Once, while he and his men were completing a scouting expedition outside the city walls, they were ambushed by Muslim soldiers. Fighting bravely, but heavily outnumbered, Adjutor cried out to St. Mary Magdalene for help. Immediately a violent storm erupted. This terrified the enemy greatly; they all threw down their weapons and fled.

Adjutor remained a crusader in the Holy Land for seventeen years. During another scouting expedition (years and years after the first), Adjutor was once again ambushed and this time taken prisoner. He was forced to endure horrid living conditions –darkness, dankness and loaded down with heavy chains, as well as brutal torture. Admirably, Adjutor never lost his faith nor his courage.

Once again, his heavenly comrade came to his aid. St. Mary Magdalene appeared to him and cut his chains loose from the wall before helping him devise and execute his escape. Upon exiting the prison walls, Adjutor dove into the sea and swam to the shore near Crusader territory, wearing the chains from his prison cell the entire time.

After this, Adjutor made his way back to France (near Normandy), continuing to wear  the chains that had held him captive for so long. The experience in the Holy Land had changed his heart greatly, and he decided to give away all of his earthly riches. He built a chapel in honor of St. Mary Magdalene and then returned to the Benedictine monastery were he had received his education as a boy, consecrating himself to God. Time passed, and Adjutor desired even more seclusion for greater intimacy with God, so he retired to a hermitage on the Seine river. Throughout all these years, he continued to woear those chains across his body as penance.

One day, an archbishop came to visit Adjutor at his hermitage to celebrate Mass. Adjutor took him to the bank of the river and showed him a whirlpool that had been causing a lot of boaters to drown. He asked the archbishop to bless the water. Together they got into a boat and sailed towards the winding current. At the edge of the whirlpool the bishop sprinkled holy water and gave his blessing. Adjutor contributed by taking a link from his chain and casting it into the water while saying,

“It is as easy for God to free people from this whirlpool as it was for him to free me from my chains.”

Immediately the whirlpool became calm.

It is for this reason that St. Adjutor is invoked against drowning and is a patron of  boaters and swimmers.

Upon his death, Adjutor was buried in the chapel he had built to honor St. Mary Magdalene. He was venerated as a saint by the locals almost immediately and he remains a favorite saint of those who still live in Vernon, France today. His feast day is April 30th.


Until this month, I had never “met” St. Adjutor. I happened to stumble across his name while doing some spiritual reading– and I’m glad I did.

  1. First of all, we have the same patron saint. St. Mary Magdalene has been by side since I was born (my middle name is Madeline). I’m actually sharing this post about her devotee this week because this past Sunday (July 22) was her feastday (it wasn’t celebrated liturgically because it was superseded by the Sunday celebration).
  2. Secondly, Adjutor was so incredibly humble. Despite his bravery and strength, he was never to proud to call out to heaven for help. He did quite a bit of “swapping” himself, acknowledging his weaknesses (such as being bound in chains or outnumbered on the battlefield) and cried out for help. God’s glory is made obvious in these stories — and Adjutor takes none of the credit for himself. That’s why he dedicates himself to God upon returning home to France.

St. Adjutor – pray for us who read this post!

One thought on “You May Not Know: St. Adjutor of Vernon

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  1. His perseverance is encouraging….especially dragging those chains around deliberately. Thank-you!!

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