Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 7 November – St Willibrord (c 658 – 739) “Apostle to the Frisians”

Saint of the Day – 7 November – St Willibrord (c 658 – 739) “Apostle to the Frisians” – Bishop, Missionary – born in c 658 at Northumbria, England and died on  7 November 739 of natural causes, aged 81.   Patronages – Convulsion, epilepsy, epileptics, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Archdiocese of Utrecht, Netherlands, Heusden, Belgium, Waalre, Netherlands.St-Willibrord-Bishop

Willibrord was born in Northumberland in c 658 and when twenty years old, went to Ireland, to study under St Egbert. Twelve years later, he felt drawn to convert the great pagan tribes who were hanging as a cloud over the north of Europe, at the request of Pepin of Herstal, Austrasian mayor of the palace, who had nominal sovereignity over that region.

Willibrord travelled to Rome twice.   Both of these trips to Rome have historical significance.   As Venerable Bede tells us, Willibrord was not the only Anglo-Saxon to travel to Rome.   The way in which he described the visit and its purpose is important; unlike all the others, Willibrord was not on the usual pilgrimage to the graves of the apostles Peter and Paul and the martyrs.   Rather “he made haste to Rome, where Pope Sergius then presided over the apostolic see, that he might undertake the desired work of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, with his licence and blessing”.   As such he came to the pope not as a pilgrim but specifically as a missionary.San_Willibrordo_B (1)

The second time he went to Rome, on 21 November 695, in the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Pope Sergius I gave him a pallium and consecrated him as bishop of the Frisians.   He returned to Frisia to preach and establish churches, among them a monastery at Utrecht, where he built his cathedral.   Willibrord is counted the first Bishop of Utrecht.

In 698 he established the Abbey of Echternach on the site of a Roman villa in Echternach, which was donated to him by Pepin’s mother-in-law, Irmina of Oeren, the wife of seneschal and Count Palatine Hugobert.   After Hugobert died, Irmina founded a Benedictine convent at Horren in Trier.   When a plague threatened her community, she gained the help of Willibrord and when the pestilence passed by the convent, she gave Willibrord the lands for his abbey in Echternach.

Pepin of Heristal died in 714.   In 716 the pagan Radbod, king of the Frisians, retook possession of Frisia, burning churches and killing many missionaries.   Willibrord and his monks were forced to flee.   After the death of Radbod in 719, Willibrord returned to resume his work, under the protection of Charles Martel.   Winfrid, better known as St Boniface, joined Willibrord and stayed for three years, before travelling on to preach in Frankish territory.lg-willibrord_6

He laboured unceasingly as bishop for more than fifty years, beloved alike of God and of man and died full of days and good works.   According to his wish, was buried in Echternach.   He was quickly judged to be a saint.   Willibrord springs, which skirted his missionary routes, were visited by the people, to solicit the healing of various nervous diseases, especially of children.St.-Willibrord.lg

Numerous miracles and relics have been attributed to him.   On one occasion, the transport of his relics was celebrated thus “the five bishops in full pontificals assisted; engaged in the dance were 2 Swiss guards, 16 standard-bearers, 3,045 singers, 136 priests, 426 musicians, 15,085 dancers, and 2,032 players”.    A Dancing Procession continues to be held in Echternach every year on Whit Tuesday and attracts thousands of participants and an equal number of spectators, to honour the memory of a saint who is often called the apostle of the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg).   His  relics are enshrined at Echternach, Luxembourg and in the Cathedral of Saint Catherine in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Statue of St Willibrord at Echternach, Luxembourg

st willibrord statue

St Willibrord’s Tomb at Echternach, Luxembourg


Passionate Catholic. Being a Catholic is a way of life - a love affair "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site, which is now using the Traditional Calendar, will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. This Site is placed under the Patronage of my many favourite Saints and especially, St Paul. "For the Saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.” Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) This site adheres to the Catholic Church and all her teachings. PLEASE ADVISE ME OF ANY GLARING TYPOS etc - In June 2021 I lost 95% sight in my left eye and sometimes miss errors. Thank you and I pray all those who visit here will be abundantly blessed. Pax et bonum! 🙏

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