Saint of the Day – St Wendelin (c 554-617) Pilgrim, Hermit, Monk and Abbot. Born in c 554 in Scotland and died in 617 at Tholey, Germany of natural causes. Patronages – country folk, herdsmen. Also known as – Wendelin of Trier, Wendel, Wendolinus, Wendelinus. Additional Memorial – 22 October in the Diocese of Trier in Germany.
There is very little definite information about this saint; his earliest biographies (two in Latin and two in German), did not appear until after 1417. The name “Wendelin” means “wanderer” or “pilgrim” in Old High German.
Wendelin was a Prince, the son of a Scottish King. After a piously spent youth he secretly left his home on a pilgrimage to Rome. On his way back he settled as a Hermit in Westricht in the Diocese of Trier.
When a great landowner criticised him for his “idle” life, he entered this man’s service as a herdsman. Later a miracle obliged the landowner to allow him to return to his solitude. Wendelin then established a company of Hermits from which sprang the Benedictine Abbey of Tholey. He was consecrated Abbot about 597, according to the later legends. Tholey was apparently founded as a collegiate body about 630.
The story is told that when Wendelin was working as a herdsman he often took his flock to a mountain to pray there in silence. On one of these occasions, his master came upon him there and was angry because he could not imagine that Wendelin had time to get the flock home before sunset. However, when the master arrived home he discovered the shepherd and his flock already there. Realising that this was a miracle from God he granted Wendelin his greatest desire and built him his own Hermit’s cell in the vicinity of the farm.
Wendelin was buried in his cell and a Chapel was built over the grave and the small Town of Sankt Wendel grew up nearby. The Saint’s intercession was considered powerful in times of pestilence and contagious diseases among cattle. When, in 1320, a pestilence was halted through the intercession of Wendelin, Baldwin, Archbishop of Trier had the Chapel rebuilt. Baldwin’s successor, Bohemond II, built the present beautiful Gothic Church, dedicated in 1360, to which the Wendelin’s relics were transferred. Since 1506 they have rested in a stone sarcophagus.
Wendelin is the patron saint of country people and herdsmen and is still greatly venerated especially in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland and South Africa.