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Updated:  Aug 12, 2013
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Wigbert, Saint

Companion of St. Boniface, b. in England about 675; d. at Hersfeld about 746

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Wigbert, Saint, companion of St. Boniface, b. in England about 675; d. at Hersfeld about 746. Positive biographical accounts of him are scanty; he had several contemporaries of the same name, and it is difficult to decide in all instances to which Wigbert the different details belong. In 836 Servatus Lupus wrote a life of Wigbert, but this contains very few clear historical data, while it relates in detail the purity of Wigbert's morals, his zeal for souls, charity, familiarity with the Bible, knowledge of theology, skill in teaching, enthusiasm for monastic life, and the faithfulness with which he fulfilled his duties. Boniface called him from England. Wigbert was certainly older than Boniface. A letter from a priest named Wigbert to the "fathers and brethren in Glestingaburg" (Glastonbury) in Somersetshire is preserved. It has been supposed that the writer was St. Wigbert and therefore a monk of Glastonbury, but this is not probable. He went to Germany about 734, and Boniface made him abbot of the monastery of Hersfeld in Hesse; among his pupils there was St. Sturmi, the first Abbot of Fulda. About 737 Boniface transferred him to Thuringia as Abbot of Ohrdruf, where he worked with the same success as in Hersfeld. Later Wigbert obtained Boniface's permission to return to Hersfeld to spend his remaining days in quiet and to prepare for death; notwithstanding old age and illness he continued his austere mode of life until his end. He was first buried at Fritzlar in an inconspicuous grave, but during an incursion of the Saxons (774) his remains were taken for safety to Buraburg, and from there, in 780 by Archbishop Lullus transferred to Hersfeld, where in 850 a beautiful church was built to him; this was burned in 1037. A great fire in 1761 destroyed the new church (dedicated, 1144) and consumed the saint's bones, or else they crumbled in the ruins. The veneration of Wigbert flourished especially in Hesse and Thuringia. At the present day he is venerated only in the dioceses of Mainz, Fulda, and Paderborn. He is recorded in the "Martyrologium Romanum" under August 13.

KLEMENS LOFFLER


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