Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 27 November – Saint Virgilius of Salzburg (c 700-784)

Saint of the Day – 27 November – Saint Virgilius of Salzburg (c 700-784) Bishop, Abbot, early Astronomer, Architect, Writer, Poet, Patron of the Arts – he was called “the Apostle of Carinthia” and “the Geometer.”   He is also known as Fergal, Fearghal, Ferghil, Vergil, Virgiel, Virgil.   Patronages – against birth complications, of Salzburg, Austria and of the Slovenes.st Virgilius_von_Salzburg2.jpg

Despite the city attached to his name, St Virgilius of Salzburg was actually an Irish Priest and Pilgrim on his way to the Holy Land, who stopped in Salzburg on his journey and stayed as its Bishop.

As abbot of a monastery in Ireland in the eighth century, Virgilius was one of the most learned men in Europe (he even gained the sobriquet the “The Geometer” for his knowledge of geometry).  Virgilius decided to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and he and his fellow companions sailed to France.   He spent two years wandering and travelling throughout Europe but did not get any farther east than Bavaria.st virgilius of salzburg glass.JPG

During a stay in Salzburg, Virgilius was appointed Abbot of St Peter’s Monastery (where St Rupert too, had previously been a monk and then the Abbot), a role that included administrative duties for the Bishop of that diocese.   He performed these duties admirably and when the Bishop died, he found himself compelled to accept an appointment as Bishop of Salzburg.

He encountered a difficult situation with St Boniface (c 675-754), who disagreed with some of his decisions and teachings and complained to the pope.   These inter-saint disagreements came to nothing, however and Virgil continued on his tenure as a fantastically effective Bishop, without further disruption from saint or sinner.

St Rupert (c 660-710) was the first Bishop of Salzburg and also the Abbot of St Peter’s in Salzburg.   He is said to have laid the foundations of the Salzburg Cathedral which St Virgilius completed.   It became an even larger and grander building than St Rupert had originally envisaged.   St Virgilius together with St Rupert, are the Patrons of Salzburg Cathedral.   The Statue at the bottom is displayed at the Cathedral.

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St Rupert’s biography, whose Memorial is on 27 March, is here: https://anastpaul.com/2019/03/27/saint-of-the-day-st-rupert-of-salzburg-c-660-710/

The images below show St Virgilius with the Architects in discussion of the Cathedral.

st virgilious with architect for the cathedralst virgilius with architect

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St Virgilius sent Missionaries to the surrounding areas and he, himself travelled to preach the Gospel to new people, as far as Hungary and is known as the Apostle to the Slovenians.   When he returned from one such journey, Virgilius, fell ill and died on this date in 784.

When the Salzburg Cathedral was partly destroyed by a fire in 1181, St Virgilius’ grave was discovered and an “astounding series of miracles” generated a widespread cult.   This led to his Canonisation by Pope Gregory IX in 1233.st Virgilius_von_Salzburg

Although he has become known as St Virgilius of Salzburg, Virgilius was very much a person of his place and time.   He was an Irish scholar and Priest inspired by that unique Irish passion for his faith;  the almost fanatical love of literature, learning and art that marked Ireland’s Golden Age and, was enflamed, by the Irish spirit of wanderlust which drove the Irish monks to re-educate and evangelise Europe.   Virgil did things “the Irish way” and was, as one Austrian writer says, “a stiff-necked Irishman.”   Although, he achieved many of his greatest accomplishments on the eastern frontier of European civilisation, he remained a son of that bastion of learning and enlightenment on the farthest west.   Virgilius’s Irish character shaped most of what he did in Austria.sveti_virgilije4

St Virgilius was truly an amazing person.   He was the most learned man of his age but sadly, all of his writings were destroyed.   He was hailed for his great knowledge and his holiness and his feast is celebrated both in Ireland and throughout central Europe.

st virgilius of salzburg
Statue at Salzburg Cathedral
st virgilius relic
St Virgilius’ Relics reside in the Altar of the Saltzburg Cathedral

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Author:

Passionate Catholic. Being Catholic is a way of life - a love affair both with God and Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, our most Blessed and Beloved Virgin Mother Mary and the Church. "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco With the Saints, we "serve the Lord with one consent and serve the Lord with one pure language, not indeed to draw them forth from their secure dwelling-places, not superstitiously to honour them, or wilfully to rely on the, ... but silently to contemplate them for edification, thereby encouraging our faith, enlivening our patience..." Blessed John Henry Newman Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site 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. "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 is a papal fidelity site. Loyal and Obedient to the Current Pope and to the Magisterium United With Him.

5 thoughts on “Saint of the Day – 27 November – Saint Virgilius of Salzburg (c 700-784)

  1. Thank you for this very interesting post. I have known of St Fergal as an ancient Irish saint but knew nothing about him.

    I had never before connected the name Fergal ( still very common in Ireland) and the name Virgil or Virgilius.

    Liked by 1 person

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