Patron saint of Vernon
Saint Adjutor, Patron saint of Vernon and of bargemen, swimmers and yatchmen (Feast day : April 30th)
Talking about Saint Adjutor requires a permanent to and fro movement between history and legend.
Adjutor was the son of Jean (= John), Count of Vernon, and of Rosamonde of Blaru, a village in the vicinity of Vernon. There were three brothers in the family. One of them, Mathew remained in Vernon and inherited his father's possessions to become lord of Vernon.. Local historians used to say that the second son,Richard, had gone over to England with the Duke of Normandy, William [said the Conqueror, later King William I of England], to take part in the battle of Hastings, settle in England and be the founder of the English branch of the Vernon family. But modern historians reject this point of view : as a matter of fact we have no informatiion about Richard's life.
Adjutor, the third son, was born in Vernon around 1060 - 1070 and was educated by Bernard, later first abbot of Thyron au Perche Abbey (who was beatified later). and to whom he remained extremely devoted all his life. He probabbly left the abbey around 1085 to come back to live near his family. There, he built a small house and chapel at Pressagny-l’Orgueilleux, where now Château de la
Madeleinestands, where he would spend his days, hunting and praying.
Then , with a party of about 200 men, he left for the Holy Land when the First Crusade was preached (1095) where he fought with courage and ... this is the end of the historic figure. We can now have a look at the legendary hero.
One day, near Antioch, Adjutor and his men fell into an ambush where 1,500 enemies were waiting for them. He prayed Saint Madeleine, promised to have a chapel built that would be dedicated to her and to give large parts of his possessions to Thyron au Perche Abbey. Hardly had he finished his prayer when a terrible storm frightened the Saracens away so that Adjutor was able to defeat them.
He went on fighting seventeen years, but one day, God let him fall into the hands of the Infidels. It was certainly to try his faith, which did not falter, so that his jailers "irritated by his calm and his courage, [...] doubled his chains already quite heavy and threw him into a smaller and darker jail."
One night, saint Madeleine and Bernard (the Abbot of Thyron au Perche Abbey, but not a saint yet) mysteriously appeared in his cell and, as the legend says, "still weighted by his chains, lifted him in an extremely swift flight, from Jerusalem to Vernon-sur-Seine in one night".
From then on, he lived as a monk in the chapel he had built, as he had promised seventeen years earlier. He led a very religious life, helping the poor, caring for the sick and he also performed several miracles.
Among the many miracles that he is said to have worked, the best known concerns the river Seine and here we can leave the legendary hero and go back into history for a minute.
Like every untamed river, the Seine was dangerous because of shallows, eddies and whirlpools. One such dangerous place was located near Vernon, where rocks in the river created eddies: Mathew of Vernon had the rocks destroyed and removed (or at least those rocks that could be removed considering the technical means that existed at the time) so as to try and improve the traffic.
Let us turn back to Adjutor's legend.
Having heard of the death of several men who had drowned in the eddies and whirlpools near his monastery, Adjutor, together with Hughes, Archbishop of Rouen, took place in a small boat and rowed to the dangerous spot. (It is said that the Archbishop was feeling quite uncomfortable!) After saying prayers and sprinkling the river with holy water, Adjutor threw into the water the chains he had worn while a prisoner and, miraculously, the eddies and whirlpools disappeared and the water was quiet.
It is therefore no wonder if, in addition to being the patron of Vernon, Adjutor is also the patron saint of bargemen, swimmers and yachtsmen and of those who come to their rescue..
The modern window evokes the miracle with the blue of the water at the bottom, the yellow of the rowing boat (with three red stains that can suggest the boatman, the Bishop and Adjutor) and, at the top, several chain links (in the yellow part).