Saint of the Day – 6 November – Saint Winnoc of Wormhoult (Died 716/717) Abbot, miracle-worker. Born in the 7th Century in Wales and died on 6 November in 716 or 717 at Wormhoult, Belgium of natural causes. Patronages – against fever, against whooping cough, millers. Also known as – Winnoc of Flanders, Winnoc of Wormhoudt, Vinocus, Vinnoco, Winnow, Winoc, Winocus, Winok, Wunnoc, Winnok. Additional Memorials – 18 September (translation of relics) and 20 February (exaltation of Saint Winnoc).
The Roman Martyrology states today: “In the territory of Thérouanne in Austrasia, in today’s France, Saint Vinnoco, Abbot, who, of Breton origin, was welcomed by Saint Bertino among the Monks of Sithieu and then founded, with the work of his own hands, the Monastery of Wormhoudt.“
Winnoc is generally called a Breton but the Bollandist, Charles de Smedt shows, that he was more probably of Welsh origin. He is said to have been of noble birth, of the same house as the Kings of Domnonia. Some sources state that Winnoc’s father was Saint Judicael. He may have been raised and educated in Brittany, since his family had fled there to escape the Saxons. He is said to have founded the Church and parish of St Winnow in Cornwall, although this toponym may be connected with Saint Winwaloe.
Winnoc came to Flanders, to the Monastery of Saint-Omer, then ruled by St Bertin, with three companions and was soon sent to found, at Wormhoult, a dependent cell or priory. It is not known what rule, Columbanian or Benedictine, was followed ,at this time, in the two Monasteries.
When enfeebled by old age, St Winnoc received supernatural assistance in the task of grinding grain for his brethren and the poor. The mill ground the grain automatically due to the intercession of the Saint’s prayers. A Monk who, out of curiosity, came to see how the old man did so much work, was struck blind but healed by the Saint’s intercession. Many other miracles followed his death, which occurred on 6 November 716 or 717 (we only know the year from a fourteenth century tradition).
The popularity of St Winnoc’s cultus is attested by the frequent insertion of his name in liturgical documents and the numerous translations of his relics as well as the four hagiographies written of his life. He was originally buried at Wormhoult but his relics were translated to Bergues-Saint-Winnoc in 899. It is said that people who stood along the route taken by the Monks were reported to have been cured of many illnesses, especially coughs and fevers. His relics were invoked against drought. The Monastery was burned by Protestants in 1558. Some of Winnoc’s relics were destroyed.
His feast is kept on 6 November, that of his translation on 18 September; a third, the Exaltation of St Winnoc, on 20 February.