Saint of the Day – 11 July – Saint Kjeld of Viborg OSA (Died c 1150) St Francis of the North,” Priest, Apostle of the poor, needy and sick. Born in Denmark and died in c 1150 n Viborg, Denmark of natural causes. Patronage – Viborg, Denmark, of the blind and those with eye diseases. Also known as – “St Francis of Assisi of the North,” Ketil, Ketille, Kield, Exuperian.
Kjeld was born in the early 12th Century to wealthy parents, who lived on a farm in central Denmark. He was a Godly boy and it was soon decided that he should have a future in the Church. He was sent to Viborg, where he joined the Cathedral College or Chapter. The Cathedral Chapter was the place where Priests were trained and while they lived as Canons at the Cathedral, they assisted the Bishop in his administrative work. The Canons Regular lived in a community following St Augustine’s Rule and they were led by a Prior.
Kjeld thrived in the Cathedral Chapter, where he was elected as head of the Cathedral Chapter College and around 1145 he was elected Prior of the other Canons. Kjeld was a very caring, generous and compassionate man who gave all he could to the sick, poor and needy. It is told in his biography that IN 1145, when Viborg City was threatened by fire, Kjeld ran to the Tower of the Cathedral, where he prayed fervently to God to spare the City and the Church, after which the fire miraculously receded.
Despite the fact that the Canons had chosen Kjeld as their Prior, there soon came disputes between them and him, apparently because they objected to his generous distribution of the Cathedral Chapter’s funds to the poor. The Canons elected a new Prior and Kjeld moved to Aalborg for a while. Although Kjeld was popular in Aalborg he longed to spread the Christian faith and desired Martyrdom among the Wends. He went on a pilgrimage to Rome, where he visited the Tombs of the Apostles and had an audience with Pope Eugene III (1145-1153). He sought the Pope’s permission to go on a mission among the Wends but, although he received the desired authorisation, the Pope expressed the sentiment that he would rather see Kjeld return to Viborg and continue his work as Prior of the Cathedral College. The Pope wrote to the Cathedral College, who had to bow and take Kjeld back as their leader. But soon after, in 1150, Kjeld died in Viborg and was buried in the Cathedral.
Numerous miracles were granted by God at his grave. The sick became healthy after visits to the tomb and the blind especially, were granted their sight – according to the Saint’s biography, at least twelve people had their sight restored. The Church authorities now sought Kjeld’s Canonisation and they, therefore, sent a request to the Pope in Rome. In 1188 Pope Clement III (1187-1191) consented and the Archbishop Absalon celebrated Kjeld’s Canonisation locally, which occurred on 11 July 1189.