Saint of the Day – 12 December – Saint Vicelinus of Oldenburg (1086-1154) Bishop, Missionary, “the Apostle of Holstei,” zealous Preacher and as Bishop, he concentrated on education of his Priests and the spiritual growth of his Diocese as well as the needs of the poor, founder of numerous monasteries. Born in 1086 in the castle at Hemelin on the Weser, Lower Saxony, Germany and died on 12 December 1154 at Neumunster, Lorraine, France of natural causes. Also known as – Apostle of Obodriten, of the Wends, Vicelinus, Vincelin, Vizelin, Wissel, Witzel, Wizelin.
Vicelinus was born in Hemelin around 1086. He was orphaned at an early age and thereafter, raised by his uncle Ludolf, a Priest in a neighbouring village. He left to join the Cathedral school at Paderborn, where he soon surpassed his companions and assisted in the management of the Cathedral school.
Vicelinus was called to Bremen to act as teacher and principal of the school and was offered a canonry by Archbishop Frederick of the Archbishopric of Hamburg-Bremen. In 1122 he may have gone to Laon to complete his studies under St Abelard. In 1126, Vicelinus decided to travel to Madgeburg, in order to see St Norbert, who at that time was the Archbishop. He hoped that St Norbert would ordain him a Priest and he could begin missionary work among the Slavs. For one reason or another this plan failed and so Vicelinus returned to Bremen, where Bishop Albero Ordained him. Hamburg-Bremen’s Archbishop Adalbero sent him among the Polabian Slavs and in the fall of 1126 Henry, Prince of the Obotrites, gave him a Church in Liubice, near the site of the later Lübeck. At the death of Henry (22 March 1127) Vicelinus returned to Bremen and was appointed Parish Priest at Wippenthorp. This gave him an opportunity to work among the Wagrians and neighbouring Obotrites.
Vicelinus’s preaching gathered crowds of eager listeners and many Priests aided him in founding a new monastery in 1127 known as Neumünster. The monastery followed the Rule of St Augustine and was liberally endowed by the Archbishop. Wars among the tribes in 1137 caused the missionaries to abandon their labours for two years. Vicelinus sent two Priests to Liubice but with little success. In 1134 he founded a second monastery at Segeberg.
Some years later Vicelinus established a monastery at Hogersdorf. Archbishop Hartwig I made him Bishop of Starigard (or today’s Oldenburg) in 1149. There he did much for the spiritual and temporal welfare of his Diocese. In 1152 he was struck by paralysis and lingered amid much suffering for two years before dying in Neumünster.
In 1330 the Augustine canon-law college moved to Bordesholm and St Vicelinus relics were transferred there too in 1332 and his body was buried before the main altar.