Saint of the Day – 7 February – Saint Richard the King Pilgrim (Died c 722) Layman Prince, Married and was the Father of the West Saxon Saints Willibald (Bishop of Eichstadt), Winnibald (Abbot of Heidesheim) and Walburga. (Virgin, Nun). Died in722 at Lucca, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Richard of Lucca, Richard the Pilgrim, Richard the Saxon, Ricanus, Ricarius, Richard of Wessex.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “In Lucca, deposition of St Riccard, Father of the Saints Willibald, Winnibald and Walburga, who died on the way with his children from England to Rome.”
Richard, Prince of the Western Saxons, husband of a relative of Saint Boniface, St Wuna.
This noble and devout family came from Wessex, an English region and according to an account of the Nun Hugebure of Heidenheim, in 720, he entrusted his eleven-year-old daughter Walburga to the Abbess of Wimborne in Dorset, renounced his estates, and left with his two sons on a pilgrimage to Rome. Willibald was just twenty and Wunibald was nineteen.
Sailing on the River Hamble, near Southampton, they crossed the English Channel and then up the Seine, finally arriving at Rouen in France. Not before having visited and prayed at numerous French Shrines and Sanctuaries, the three pilgrims then made their way to Italy.
Riccard died unexpectedly after developing a fever, near Lucca in c 722, before reaching Rome. In this Tuscan City, the pilgrim Saint still rests today and his relics are the object of veneration in the Basilica of St Fredian.
St Willibald then joined the famous St Boniface in the evangelisation of Germany, founding the double Monastery of Heidenheim and becoming the first Bishop of the City of Eichstatt. Wunibald was also a Missionary with them and ran the Heidenheim Monastery with his sister Walburga., when she joined them. When Willibald died and was buried in Eichstadt, it was desired that Riccard’s remains, which were still deposited in Lucca, would be transferred there so that they could rest next to those of his son. The faithful of Lucca, however, firmly opposed this suggestion and the inhabitants of Eichstadt had to be content with a little dust from his tomb.
However, in consideration of the sublime holiness of his offspring and the numerous miracles that occurred at his tomb in St Fredian, a life of “Saint Richard, King of England” was then written, a title thus also bestowed upon him by the Catholic Martyrology until 1956.
Richard is depicted with the Blessed Mother and his three children at Eichstädt Cathedral. In religious artworks, Richard is portrayed as a royal pilgrim in an ermine-lined cloak with two sons, one a Bishop and one an Abbot.
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