Saint of the Day – 12 November – St Lebuinus of Deventer (Died 775) Apostle of the Friesens, Priest, Monk, Confessor, Missionary – born in England and died in c773 at Deventer, Netherlands. Patronage – Deventer.
Lebuinus was a monk in St Wilfrid’s monastery at Ripon,Yorkshire. Inspired by the example of Saint Boniface, Saint Willibrord and other great English missionaries, he resolved to devote his life to the conversion of the Germans.
After his ordination, he proceeded in 754 to Utrecht and was welcomed by Saint Gregory, acting bishop of that place, who entrusted him with the mission of Overijssel on the borders of Westphalia and gave him a companion – Marchelm (or Marcellinus), a disciple of Saint Willibrord.
He preached the Gospel among the tribes of the district and erected a little chapel at Wilp on the west bank of the IJssel. His venerable personality and deep learning quickly won many to Christianity, even among the nobles and it soon became necessary to build a much larger church at Deventer on the east bank of the river.
However, Lebuinus’s great success aroused hostility among the pagans. Ascribing his conversions to witchcraft, they formed an alliance with the anti-Christian Saxons, burned the church at Deventer and dispersed the converts. After escaping with difficulty, Lebuinus determined to voice the claims of Christianity at the national assembly of the Saxons at Marklo near the Weser (Northwestern Germany) .
The Vitae of Lebuinus describes in great details, his appearance before the assembly, where, it is claimed, he pointed out to the Saxons the inefficacy of their deities. It also describes how he warned them of impending destruction at the hands of a powerful king unless they converted to Christianity. With the intercession of the nobleman Buto, he persuaded them sufficiently of the power of his mission that they not only allowed him to escape with his life but allowed him to preach unmolested in the territory allotted him. His life may have been a source of inspiration in the creation of the cultus on Saint Livinus of Ghent.
On his return to Friesland, Lebuinus rebuilt the church at Deventer where he was later buried. His body and a copy of the Gospel,s presumed to have been written by his hand, were still in Deventer, in a church bearing his name, until 882 when it was destroyed by the Normans. The relics of St Livinus of Ghent (c 580–657) Martyr, (whose feast also is on 12 November are probably those of Lebuinus. Saint Ludger rebuilt the church a few years later and in doing so rediscovered the saint’s remains beneath the site.
The Lebuïnuskerk, Deventer, see below, was consecrated in his name where he is highly venerated and in fact in all of the Netherlands.