dimanche 18 décembre 2016

Saint WINEBALD (WINNIBALD, WUNIBALD) de HEIDENHEIM, abbé bénédictin et confesseur

Saint Winebald

Abbé d'Heidenheim ( 761)

Avec son père Richard et son frère Willibald, il se rendit en pèlerinage d'Angleterre à Rome. Le père mourut en cours de chemin, à Lucques en Toscane. A Rome, Wineblad rencontra saint Boniface et il suivit l'apôtre de la Germanie où il évangélisa la Bavière. Avec son frère, il fonda un double monastère, l'un pour les femmes, l'autre pour les hommes.

Au monastère d’Heidenheim, dans le Würtemberg, en 761, saint Winnibald, abbé. Originaire d’Angleterre, il suivit saint Boniface avec son frère saint Willibald et l’aida dans son œuvre d’évangélisation des peuples de Germanie.

Martyrologe romain

Winebald, OSB Abbot (AC)
(also known as Winnibald, Wunebald, Wynbald)

Born in Wessex, England; died at Heidenheim, Germany, on December 18, 761.

Saint Richard the Saxon, an important landowner in 8th century Britain embarked with his two sons, Willibald and Winebald, on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but he died in Lucca, Italy.

From Rome Willibald went on to the Holy Land (the first Englishman in recorded history to go there). Winebald did not have his brother's stamina. He was ill by the time they reached Rome. He decided to stay there as a student for seven years. There he became a Benedictine monk, returning to England, but twice coming back with friends on further pilgrimages to Rome. He was there in 739 when his kinsman, Saint Boniface, arrived.

Boniface's supreme achievement was to bring the Gospel to much of Germany. Although Winebald was still a sick man, Boniface persuaded his fellow-countryman to join his mission to the Germans. It was dangerous work, but Winebald soon arrived in Thuringia and was ordained a priest. In spite of his ill-health, he took over the care of seven churches. The German Saxons continually tried to hamper his work, but he pressed on into Bavaria, working there for several years until the call of the cloister proved too strong for him and he joined his brother Willibald at Eichstätt.

Willibald was by now bishop of Eichstätt, and he longed to found a double monastery in his diocese. Winebald he perceived to be the perfect abbot of the men. The two brothers decided that their sister Walburga, who was still in England, should rule the nuns. So Winebald went to a remote spot near Heidenheim (Würtemburg), and built the Benedictine double monastery, which became an important center for the education of clergy. Walburga came to join him. All this the saint accomplished in spite of continual illness, which prevented him from ending his life at Monte Cassino as he had hoped.

Heidenheim Abbey also became the center for evangelization as well as for prayer and work. Winebald narrowly escaped assassination by pagans in the neighborhood.

His last three years were spent as an invalid in great pain. Sometimes he could not even leave his cell to worship with the other monks. Yet he bore the illness patiently. And when he died, Willibald and Walburga were at his side. His biographer, Hugeburc, also wrote the story of his brother. Miracles were recorded at Winebald's tomb (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Farmer).

In art, Winebald is portrayed as an abbot with a bricklayer's trowel. Sometimes he may be shown with his brother and father (Roeder). 

St. Winebald, Abbot and Confessor

ST. RICHARD, the English-Saxon king, seems to have been a prince of Westsex; for he was related to St. Boniface, and set out on his pilgrimage from Hamble-Haven in that country. It is thought that he was one of those princes who ruled in part of that kingdom, till they were compelled to give way to King Ceadwall. 1 God blessed him with three children, St. Winebald, the eldest, St. Willibald, who died bishop of Eystadt, and St. Walburga. St. Richard leaving his native country, took with him his two sons, and embarking at Hamble-Haven, landed on the coast of Normandy, and visiting all the places of devotion on his way, travelled into Italy, intending to go to Rome: but at Lucca fell sick and died about the year 722. His body was buried in the church of St. Frigidian, 2 and on account of certain famous miracles wrought at his tomb, was taken up by Gregory, bishop of Lucca, by the pope’s authority, and is kept in a rich shrine in that church. His name occurs in the Roman Martyrology on the 7th of February. SS. Winebald and Willibald accomplished their pilgrimage to Rome. After some stay there to perform their devotions, St. Willibald undertook another pilgrimage to the holy places in Palestine; but Winebald, who is by some called Wunibald, who was from his childhood of a weak sickly constitution, remained at Rome, where he pursued his studies seven years, took the tonsure, and devoted himself with his whole heart to the divine service. Then returning to England, he engaged a third brother and several amongst his kindred and acquaintance to accompany him in his journey back to Rome, and there dedicate themselves to God in a religious state. St. Boniface, who was our saint’s cousin, coming to that city in 738, prevailed with him upon motives of charity to undertake a share of his labours in the conversion of the infidels and in founding the infant church of Germany. Winebald accompanied him into Thuringia, and being ordained priest by that holy archbishop, took upon him by his commission, the care of seven churches in that country, especially at Erfurt, as the nun informs us in the life of our saint. These churches the chronicle of Andesches and Bruschius call seven monasteries; but without authority or probability, as Serarius observes. St. Willibald was made bishop of Aychstadt in Franconia in 781, and being desirous to erect a double monastery which might be a pattern and seminary of piety and learning to the numerous churches which he had planted, prevailed with his brother Winebald, and his sister Walburga, whom he invited out of England, to undertake that charge.

Winebald, therefore, translated his monastery from Schwanfield to Heidenheim, where, having purchased a wild spot of ground covered with shrubs and bushes, he cleared it and built first little cells or mean cottages for himself and his monks, and shortly after erected a monastery. A nunnery was founded by him in the neighbourhood, which St. Walburga governed. The idolaters often attempted the life of St. Winebald by poison and by open violence: but by the divine protection he escaped their snares, and continued by his zealous labours to extend on every side the pale of Christ’s fold. He was solicitous in the first place to maintain in his religious community the perfect spirit of their holy state, teaching them above all things to persevere instant in prayer, 3 and to keep inviolably in mind the humility of our Lord, and his meekness and holy conversation, as the standard from which they were never to turn their eyes. They who find a reluctance arising from the corruption of their passions, must nevertheless force themselves cheerfully to all that which is good, especially to divine love, fraternal compassion, patience when they are despised, meekness, and assiduous prayer; for God, beholding their conflicts and the earnestness of their desires and endeavours, will in the end grant them the true grace of prayer, meekness, and the bowels of mercy, and will fill them with the fruits of the Spirit, in which state the Lord seems to perform all things in them; so sweet do humility, love, meekness, and prayer become. Thus our holy abbot encouraged his spiritual children, and strengthened in them the spirit of Christ; but he inculcated to them both by word and example, that Christ never plants his spirit nor establishes the kingdom of his grace in souls which are not prepared by self-denial, mortification, obedience, simplicity, a life of prayer, and profound humility; for self-elevation is the greatest abasement, and self-abasement is the highest exaltation, honour, and dignity. For only he can cleave to the Lord who has freed his heart from earthly lusts, and disengaged his affections from the covetousness of the world. St. Winebald was afflicted many years with sickness, and had a private chapel erected in his own cell, in which he said mass when he was not able to go to church. Once, being looked upon as brought by his distemper to extremity, and almost to the point of death, he made a visit of devotion to the shrine of St. Boniface, once his spiritual father and much honoured friend in Christ; and in three weeks’ time was restored to his health. Some time after, he relapsed into his former ill state of health, and in his last moments earnestly exhorted his disciples to advance with their whole might towards God without stopping or looking behind them; for no one can be found worthy to enter the holy city, who strives not by doing his utmost that his name be written in heaven with the first-born. For this, in the earnestness of our desires, we ought to pour out tears day and night. Our saint had made them, as it were, the very food of the soul, and having been tried and purified by a lingering sickness as the pure gold in the furnace, went to God on the 18th of December, 760. After his death St. Willibald committed the superintendency over the monastery of monks to the holy abbess St. Walburga so long as she lived. The monastery of Heidenhem was finally dissolved upon the change of religion in the province of Brandenburg Anspach, in which it was situated. The nun who wrote the life of St. Winebald assures us, that several miraculous cures were performed at his tomb. St. Ludger also writes in the life of St. Gregory of Utrecht, “Winebald was very dear to my master Gregory, and shows by great miracles since his death what he did whilst living.” Rader testifies, that St. Winebald is honoured among the saints in several churches in Germany, though his name is not inserted in the Roman Martyrology, as Mabillon and Basnage remark. See his life, written, not by St. Walburga, as some have said, but by another contemporary nun of her monastery, who had before wrote the life of St. Willibald. In that of St. Winebald we have an account of the manner of canonizing saints in that age, and of the twofold labour to which monks then applied themselves, in tilling land and making that which was wild arable; and in instructing and preaching. This work was published entire by Canisius in his Leotiones Antiquæ, t. 4, more correctly by Mabillon, Act. Ben. t. 4, and most accurately by Basnage in his edition of Canisius in 1725, t. 2, part 2.

Note 1. Bede, l. 4, c. 12. [back]

Note 2. St. Frigidian, or Fridian, an Irishman, who is honoured on the 18th of March, and his translation on the 18th of November, was bishop of Lucca in the sixth century, famous for sanctity and miracles, and was buried in this church, which he had founded in honour of St. Vincent: but it since bears his name, and now belongs to a famous monastery of Olivetan monks. [back]

Note 3. Rom. xiii. 12. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume XII: December. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.

Saint Winebald of Heidenheim

Also known as
  • Winebaldus
  • Winnibald
  • Wunebald
  • Wunibald
  • Wynbald
  • Wynnebald
  • Vunibaldo
  • Vinebaldo

Born a prince, the son of Saint Richard the King and Saint Wunna of Wessex; brother of Saint Willibald and Saint Walburga; nephew of Saint Boniface. During a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, he became ill and spent seven years in Rome, Italy recovering and studying before finally returning to England. Missionary to Germany with Saint Boniface. Ordained in 739. Worked in Thuringia, Bavaria and Mainz. Founded a monastery at Heidenheim, and served as its first abbot.


Sts. Willibald and Winnebald


Members of the Order of St. Benedict, brothers, natives probably of Wessex in England, the former, first Bishop of Eichstätt, born on 21 October, 700 (701); died on 7 July, 781 (787); the latter, Abbot of Heidenheim, born in 702; died on 18 (19) December, 761. They were the children of St. Richard, commonly called the King; their mother was a relative of St. Boniface. Willibald entered the Abbey of Waltham in Hampshire at the age of five and was educated by Egwald. He made a pilgrimage to Rome in 722 with his father and brother. Richard died at Lucca and was buried in the Church of St. Frigidian. After an attack of malaria Willibald started from Rome in 724 with two companions on a trip to the Holy Land, passed the winter at Patara, and arrived at Jerusalem on 11 November, 725. He then went to Tyre, to Constantinople, and in 730 arrived at the Abbey of Monte Casino, after having visited the grave of St. Severin of Noricum in Naples. In 740 he was again at Rome, whence he was sent by Gregory III to Germany. There he was welcomed by St. Boniface, who ordained him on 22 July, 741, and assigned him to missionary work at Eichstätt. Possibly the ordination of Willibald was connected with Boniface's missionary plans regarding the Slavs. On 21 October, 741 (742), Boniface consecrated him bishop at Sülzenbrücken near Gotha. The Diocese of Eichstätt was formed a few years later. Winnebald had, after the departure of his brother for Palestine, lived in a monastery at Rome. In 730 he visited England to procure candidates for the religious state and returned the same year. On his third visit to Rome, St. Boniface received a promise that Winnebald would go to Germany. Winnebald arrived in Thuringia on 30 November, 740, and was ordained priest. He took part in the Concilium Germanicum, 21 April, 744 (742), was present at the Synod of Liptine, 1 March, 745 (743), subscribed Pepin's donation to Fulda, 753; joined the League of Attigny in 762; and subscribed the last will of Remigius, Bishop of Strasburg. With his brother he founded the double monastery of Heidenheim in 752; Winnebald was placed as abbot over the men, and his sister, St. Walburga, governed the female community. Winnebald's body was found incorrupt eighteen years after his death. His name is mentioned in the Benedictine Martyrology. Willibald blessed the new church of Heidenheim in 778. His feast occurs in the Roman Martyrology on 7 July, but in England it is observed by concession of Leo XIII on 9 July. A costly reliquary for his remains was completed in 1269.

Mershman, Francis. "Sts. Willibald and Winnebald." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 18 Dec. 2016 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15644c.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael C. Tinkler.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

San Wunibald di Heidenheim (Vunibaldo) Abate

Wessex (Gran Bretagna), 701 - Heidenheim (Germania), 18 dicembre 761

Vunibaldo nacque nel 701 nel Wessex (Inghilterra) da una famiglia importante per la Chiesa: il fratello fu il grande vescovo di Eichstätt (Baviera) Villibaldo, lo zio Bonifacio, l'evangelizzatore della Germania, e la sorella Valburga, figura carismatica del ramo femminile del monastero di Heidenheim, fondato da Vunibaldo nella diocesi retta dal fratello. Fu importante centro culturale e missionario. Pellegrino a Roma e in Terra Santa, al ritorno entrò con Villibaldo tra i benedettini di Montecassino. Nel 738 fu chiamato dallo zio in Germania e mandato ad evangelizzare Turingia e Baviera. Morì nel 761. E quando il fratello ne fece esumare le spoglie, nel 777, esse erano intatte. Protegge sposi e minatori. (Avvenire)

Patronato: Sposi, Minatori

Martirologio Romano: Nel monastero di Hildesheim nella Baviera, in Germania, san Vinebaldo, abate, che, di origine inglese, insieme al fratello san Villibaldo seguì san Bonifacio e lo aiutò nell’opera di evangelizzazione delle popolazioni germaniche.

San Wunibald chiamato anche Wynnebald, nacque nel 701 nel Wessex, in Gran Bretagna, da genitori anglosassoni, il padre secondo tardive tradizioni, era un re di nome Riccardo e la madre si chiamava Wunna. 

Divenuto giovane, nell’estate del 721 insieme al padre ed al fratello Willibald, intraprese un pellegrinaggio a Roma, una vera impresa per quell’epoca, ma il padre arrivato a Lucca, morì durante il viaggio. 

Wunibald per motivi di studio, rimase a Roma in un monastero fino al 739, mentre il fratello Willibald proseguiva nel 723 fino alla Terra Santa, meta finale di molti pellegrinaggi medioevali. 

Nel 729-30 Wunibald ritornò brevemente in Gran Bretagna e qui convinse ai suoi ideali ascetici, un altro fratello, di cui non si sa il nome e insieme ripartirono per Roma. Nel 738 nella città pontificia incontrò s. Bonifacio Winfrid (680-755) suo parente, il grande monaco anglosassone, evangelizzatore della Germania; Wunibald attratto dall’ideale missionario di s. Bonifacio, lasciò la vita contemplativa del monastero romano e nel 739 giunse come missionario in Turingia, regione della Germania, qui fu consacrato sacerdote dallo stesso Bonifacio, il quale gli affidò la cura di sette chiese, stabilendo la sede a Sülzenbrücken a sud di Erfurt. 

Qui ritrovò anche suo fratello Willibald il quale fu consacrato nel 742, vescovo di Eichstätt, da s. Bonifacio, che era diventato arcivescovo di Magonza. Chiamato dal duca Odilone, Wunibald nel 744 si recò in Baviera per diffondere il suo apostolato missionario, nella regione presso il fiume Vils nel Pfalz Superiore. 

Dopo tre anni di intenso lavoro, nel 747 ritornò da Bonifacio, arcivescovo di Magonza, ma la sua permanenza in questa città non fu lunga, egli contrariamente al fratello, era sempre attratto dalla vita monastica e dalla solitudine e così d’accordo con il fratello vescovo, acquistò in una zona isolata presso Eichstätt, un terreno e insieme ad alcuni compagni, nel 752 ne iniziò la coltivazione e nello stesso tempo cominciò ad erigere il monastero di Heidenheim. 

Una volta completato il convento, ne divenne il primo abate, dedicandosi alle missioni ed al ripristino della fede cristiana nella popolazione, nel frattempo ricaduta nel paganesimo; fu ammirato ma anche odiato per il suo zelo e la sua austerità. 

Gli ultimi anni della sua vita furono provati da grave malattia, nonostante ciò egli fece ancora un faticoso viaggio a Würzburg, per incontrare il vescovo locale e poi al monastero di Fulda, dove era la tomba di s. Bonifacio, morto nel 755; questi viaggi avevano lo scopo di mantenere in vita e sostenere il suo monastero. 

Desiderava finire la sua vita a Montecassino, dove era già atteso, presso la tomba del patriarca s. Benedetto, alla cui Regola aveva affidato il suo monastero, ma il fratello vescovo Willibald lo distolse a causa dell’impedimento delle sue gravi infermità. Wunibald morì pertanto a Heidenheim, il 18 dicembre 761, assistito dal fratello e lì sepolto. 

La sorella s. Valburga, monaca a Wimborne era stata trasferita ad Heidenheim come badessa delle monache, chiamata dal fratello Willibald, in questo cosiddetto doppio monastero, il cui ramo maschile era diretto da Wunibald, alla morte di questi, divenne badessa generale del doppio monastero; nel 776 Willibald fece costruire una chiesa più grande e un anno dopo fece trasferire solennemente il corpo del fratello abate, nella nuova cripta, confermando in tal modo il culto che era iniziato subito dopo la morte. 

La maggior parte delle sue reliquie risultano disperse dal tempo della Riforma Protestante (XVI sec.), alcune sono sparse in varie città della Germania. La città di Eichstätt annovera tra i suoi santi patroni, almeno dal 1075, i tre fratelli Willibald, Wunibald e Valburga; durante i secoli vi sono state varie cerimonie e traslazioni che hanno visto le reliquie dei tre fratelli, insieme esposte alla venerazione dei fedeli. 

S. Wunibald ha un culto molto diffuso in Germania ed è patrono di tante località, che non è possibile qui elencare; è stato anche soggetto molto rappresentato nell’arte; innumerevoli sono i bassorilievi, busti, pitture, reliquiari, sigilli, incisioni, statue che lo raffigurano, raramente da solo, è sempre in abiti da monaco, a volte con il pastorale di abate o con il libro della Regola e dal 1500 anche con una cazzuola in mano, simbolo della costruzione del monastero.

Autore: Antonio Borrelli