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Updated:  Aug 12, 2013
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Lambert, Saint

Martyr, Bishop of Maestricht, b. at Maestricht between 633 and 638; d. at Liege, between 698 and 701

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Lambert (LANDEBERTUS), Saint, martyr, Bishop of Maestricht, b. at Maestricht between 633 and 638; d. at Liege, between 698 and 701. His parents, who belonged to the nobility, gave him a very religious education, and chose as his preceptor St. Landoaldus, priest of the cathedral church at Maestricht. Later, Lambert received instruction from St. Theodardus (668 or 669), whom he succeeded in 670 as Bishop of Maestricht. During the calamitous days of Ebroin, Mayor of the Palace, Lambert, having defended the interests of King Childeric, was forced to flee from Maestricht. While Pharamundus administered his see, Lambert spent seven years (674-681) in the well-known Abbey of Stavelot, where he edified the monks by his saintly life. In 681 Ebroin received his well-earned retribution, and Pepin of Heristal became mayor of the palace, at first of Austrasia, but in 687 of the whole domain of the Franks. Pepin, who liked Lambert, permitted him to return to Maestricht and resume the administration of his see. Some time later we find Lambert as a missionary in Toxandria, the Kempenland and Brabant of today. In order to spread the Gospel, he descended the River Meuse as far as Tieland labored along its banks in company with St. Willibrord, who had come from England in 691. It is very probable that Lambert came in contact with Sts. Wiro, Plechelmus, and Otger, who had built a church and monastery on the Pietersburg, later called the Odilienberg, near Roermond. St. Landrada aided Lambert in founding the Abbey of Munsterbilsen.

For several centuries a controversy has been carried on concerning the manner of the saint's death. According to tradition, Lambert became a martyr to his defense of marital fidelity. The Bollandists, Mabillon, Valois, Lecointe, Pagi and others held, however, that the saint was killed by Frankish nobles in revenge for the failure of a plundering expedition. Kurth in 1876 critically examined the centuries-old tradition and, documents in hand, proved beyond further doubt that Lambert was martyred because of his defense of the marriage tie. Pepin of Heristal lived for many years in irreproachable wedlock with the pious Plectrude, who bore him two sons. Later he entered into unlawful relations with Alpais, who became the mother of Charles Martel. When no one had the courage to remonstrate with Pepin, Lambert went to his court like another John the Baptist. Alpais, fearing that Pepin might heed the admonitions of the saint, appealed to her brother Dodo. The latter sought revenge and caused Lambert to be assassinated in the chapel of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, built by St. Monulphus, at Liege. His heart was pierced by a javelin while he was at the altar. The servants of the martyr placed his remains in a vessel, descended the Meuse to Maestricht, and buried them in the cemetery of St. Peter, in the vault of his parents, Aper and Herisplindis, beneath the walls of Maestricht. Between 714 and 723, St. Hubert exhumed the remains and had them translated to Liege, whither he had transferred, presumably as early as 723, his episcopal see. The saint's feast is celebrated on September 17 A large number of churches have St. Lambert as their patron.

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