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The Diocese of St. Cloud is getting a new bishop. Who was St. Cloud?

St. Cloud. Credit: Diocese of St. Cloud.

On Thursday, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had named a new bishop for the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota.

But who exactly was St. Cloud, the namesake for the Minnesota diocese and city?

Turns out, St. Cloud is a somewhat obscure saint with a fascinating story - a 6th century prince, hermit, and priest. But the town, it seems, is named after an inside joke. Weird, huh?

Who was St. Cloud?

Cloud - who was actually named Clodoald - had quite a childhood. Born in 522, he was the grandson of Clovis I, the Frankish king who first united the Frankish tribes into one kingdom.

When Cloud and his brothers were orphaned, his uncles attempted to murder him, in a plot to usurp the throne. While his two brothers were killed, Cloud escaped and was taken in by the bishop of Rheims, St. Remigius. He later lived with the hermit St. Severin.

At 20 years old, Cloud renounced his wealth and royal title, giving up his claim to the throne.

This is not St. Cloud. (You can tell because it does not have a halo.)

He lived in the forest as a hermit for more than a decade, dedicating his life to prayer and the study of Scripture. He was renowned for his healing ministry, and pilgrims would visit him to seek miraculous healing for their physical and spiritual ailments.

In 551, the bishop of Paris ordained Cloud a priest, at the request of the local people. He was appointed pastor of a local village.

As a priest, Cloud was beloved for his preaching, generosity and Christian joy. He was responsible for numerous conversions, including, according to some reports, the uncles who had tried to kill him as a small child.

But Cloud longed to return to monastic life, and eventually he did, moving a little ways outside of Paris.

Still, he was not able to maintain a completely solitary life, as his reputation for holiness drew a community to form around him, looking to him as a teacher.

Cloud died in 560 at 38 years old. His feast day is Sept. 7.

The village where the saint lived the last years of his life today bears his name. It is located just outside of Paris.

None of these Care Bears are St. Cloud.

Is he the patron saint of rain?

Well, no. But he is the patron saint of nailmakers, as well as protection against carbuncles - which, if you didn’t know, are collections of boils!

He’s also the diocesan patron of St. Cloud, Minnesota.

How did St. Cloud, Minnesota get its name?

A city named St. Cloud might suggest that the early populations in Minnesota had a particular devotion to the patron saint of nailmakers. But the city has the saint’s name for different reason, according to the Star Tribune, a Minnesota newspaper.

The Star Tribune reports that John Wilson, the man who named the city in the 1850s, had been reading a book about Napoleon Bonaparte, in which Napoleon had invaded Russia and then asked a messenger how things were in St. Cloud, where his wife was living.

The question “How are things in St. Cloud” became an inside joke between Wilson and two of his hired men, and Wilson eventually chose the name St. Cloud for the city.

The Diocese of St. Cloud was created in 1889. Today, it covers 16 counties in central Minnesota and includes 133,000 registered Catholics and 131 parishes.

This is Aristophanes. Not St. Cloud. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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