Vallon du Saint-Lambert (Saint Lambert Valley) starts north from Saint-Loup-Terrier and ends up at Attigny holding villages like Guincourt, Tourteron and Suzanne. The stream by the same name ends up in the Aisne. Ok, but who’s this saint Lambert? Where did he come from? And what made him a saint? And why is this little valley carrying his name?
Saint Lambert (c. 636 – c. 700 AD) was the bishop of Maastricht (Tongeren) from about 670 until his death. Lambert was from a noble family of Maastricht, a protégé of his uncle, Bishop Theodard of Maastricht. In company with Willibrord, who had come from England in 691, Lambert preached the gospel to the pagans in the lower stretches of the Meuse, in the area that came to be called the Landgraviate of Brabant.
Lambert was murdered after a family fight with local noblemen. Lambert thus became a martyr for his defence of marital fidelity.
His feast day in the Roman Catholic Church calendar is September 17.
We know little of Saint Lambert’s life. We do know he lived in the kingdom of Austrasia. Austrasia formed the north-eastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day eastern France, western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Metz served as its capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Rheims, Trier, and Cologne. Saint Lambert lived in Maastricht and in a monastery close to Liege during the reign of Pepin of Heristal.
If you check the map of that period you can see the triangle of Liege, Metz and Rheims. Attigny, the nearest town to Tourteron is right on the road between the capitals of that time. And Attigny has even a pass way dating from Clovis II. It’s possible that traveling monks or other religious gave the name to the valley and the town Saint Lambert north of Attigny. Close to Attigny and the Saint Lambert Valley is the old monastery of Mont de Jeux overseeing the valley of the Aisne.
Nevertheless it’s a big guess. yet taking in account that the original Roman roads where the only ‘high ways’ between the larger cities throughout Europe till the late 18th century, the change it’s likely that traveling officials did pass the valley in the period after Saint Lambert’s death. His name has to be known at his time because he was a bishop of a main city. Probably the murder of a Bishop and the following canonization would have been something everybody talked about and a reason to spread his fame (and indirectly his virtues) by re-naming places. In contrast to the 21th century the relation between Saints and their virtues was common knowlegde. Probably every new saint had to be brought to the people in images, lyrics, spoken word and by re-naming places. The people were illiterate. Image and spoken word was the only way to educate.
Et pour mes amis français:
Qui est Saint-Lambert? Saint Lambert naît vers le milieu du viie siècle dans une famille aristocratique établie à Maastricht. Maastricht est à cette époque devenu le chef-lieu du diocèse de Tongres-Maastricht qui faisait partie du royaume des Mérovingiens et plus particulièrement de sa partie appelée Austrasie. Un 17 septembre d’une année inconnue (696, 700 ou 705), mais non postérieure à 705, saint Lambert est assassiné dans le village de Liège.