June 7

St. Willibald

St. Willibald

St. Willibald was a bishop in Bavaria in the 8th century. He was bornin 700AD on the 21st of October and he died in 787AD. His father wasSt Richard the Pilgrim who was the chieftain of Wessex and his motherwas St Wuna of Wessex and she was also a sister to St. Boniface. Hisbrother was St. Winibald and his sister was St. Walburga. Looking at hisfamily tree, one can say he was destined to be a saint.

When he was three years old, St Willibard suffered a terrible illnessand his parents prayed to God. While praying, the parents vowed thatthey would dedicate St Willibarld to monastic life if his life wasspared. He survived the illness and when he was five years old heentered the Benedictine monastery.

Life in the Monastery

When he was in the monastery, he was educated by Abbot Egwald and hebecame accustomed to the Irish and Anglo-Saxon monastic ideal ofpious rootlessness.

St Willibald was known for extensive travelling and in 721 he set out ona pilgrimage to Rome with his father and brother. They went there on aship and when they arrived in France they set about visiting shrines andspending most of their time in prayer. They then arrived in Lucca, acity that is in Northern Italy, and his father became gravely ill andsadly, he died.

After they had managed to bury their father, Willibald and Winibaldcontinued with their journey until they reached Rome. When they were inRome they visited the Lateran Basilica and St Peter’s. They spent sometime in Italy strengthening in devotion and discipline; unfortunatelythe two brothers became ill with the black plague.

The Pilgrimage

After they had recovered they left Rome in 724 and they departed by seavisiting Sicily and Greece along the way. After the departure of hisbrother, Willibald lived in a monastery at Rome. Some of the areas thatSt Willibald visited when they were in Greece include Ephesus, Lycia andMount Chelidonium. They almost died of hunger and thirst. However theymanaged to cross until they reached the church of Saint John theBaptist.

Willibald and his seven companions also went to Palestine on apilgrimage that started in 723 and it ended in 726 and they visitedNazareth, Bethlehem and Egypt. They even went to Cana, Capharnaum andJerusalem. The pilgrimage continued to the Church of the Nativity,Thecua and The great Lavra of St Sabbas. They also went to the port cityof Gaza, Hebron, Lydda, Joppa, Tyr and Sidon. They even went to Samariaand again reached Tyre by the way of the ladder of Tyre.

After some time in Tyre, Willibald was able to return to Constantinoplewhere he remained for two years from 727 to 729 where he was providedwith a small room in the Church of the Holy Apostles. He spent his timestudying the documents from the first council of Nicaea that wasarranged by Emperor Constantine.

After Constantinople he sailed to Sicily and he arrived in Naplesapproximately seven years after he had left Italy. St Willibald and hisremaining companion named Tidbercht joined the Benedictine community atMonte Casino. When he was there he taught the community about histravels and he spent more than ten years at Monte Casino and anotherlocal Benedictine monastery where he served as a sacrist, dean andporter.

His Life in Germany

In 738 Saint Boniface requested the Pope to allow St Willibald to assisthim in his missions in Germany. The pope was delighted about StWillibald’s history of travels and he granted St Boniface’s request.

St Willibald was ordained priest by Boniface in 741 and asked to beginthe missionary work in Eichstatt. After a year he was summoned toThuringia and he met his brother Winibald whom he had not seen in overeight years.

In 746 St Boniface consecrated Willibald as the Bishop of Eichstatt.Eichstatt was the site of Willibald’s most successful missionary effortsalthough there are no statics for the number of converts. The monasterywas one of the first buildings in the region and it served as animportant centre.

St Willibald lived in the monastery and entertained visitors fromthroughout Europe who would come to hear about his journey andmonasticism


St Willibald is the patron saint of Eichstatt which is a diocese inGermany and his feast day is 7 June. He is venerated in the RomanCatholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Willibald

  1. St Willibald is the first known Englishman to visit the Holy land.
  2. He comes from a family of saints
  3. St Willibald’s experiences play a major role in the reformation
    and future prosperity of his monastery
  4. St Willibald’s mother was reportedly St Boniface’s sister
  5. St Willibald served as the bishop of the region of Franconia for
    over four decades.

Prayer to St. Willibald

I joyfully salute you today, O royal virgin, and I thank you especiallyfor that great love with which, together with your brothers Willibaldand Wunibald, you did bring the light of faith to our ancestors. O holyvirgin, by your great merits, I pray and beseech you to enlighten me byyour example, and help me by your powerful patronage, that I may bedelivered from every sinful inclination and inordinate attachment tocreatures and to myself, and that I may wholly and entirely lose myselfin God. Your heroic courage in despising earthly goods encourages andhelps me to sever once and for all those ties which still bind me to theworld and its pleasures. May your burning love for souls deliver me fromall luke-warmness, so that I may die to the world and strive afterHeaven. Amen.