Posted by: anna | April 25, 2010

St. Wigbert

Today (12 April) we commemorate St. Wigbert, monk and missionary (690). From Stanton’s Menology:

‘St Wigbert, commemorated on this day, who is not to be counfounded with the companion of St Boniface of the same name, was one of the many English who passed over to Ireland in the seventh century, for the purpose of study and to attain greater perfection by a voluntary exile. Wigbert associated himself with St Egbert in his retreat at Rathmelsigi, and when that saint was prohibited by a heavenly vision from personally undertaking his contemplated mission to the old Saxons on the Continent, offered himself for the apostolic labour. This act of self-sacrifice was doubtless pleasing to God, but the success of the work was reserved for St Willibrord and his companions, and St Wigbert, after spending two years in Friesland, and preaching assiduously but in vain to the people and their King Radbod, deemed it best to return to his beloved solitude in Ireland. There, by his holy example and many virtues, he rendered those services to his brethren which the hard-hearted Frisians had refused to accept. ‘

Isn’t this a bit hard on the poor Friesians? A hermit’s gifts are not the same as those of a missionary preacher. Maybe his preaching was well-meaning but terrible. Supposing Wigbert had gone and lived his quiet, studious, solitary life somewhere in Friesland, getting on with what he had to do and not trying to convert the ‘old Saxons’? Would that life have been a better witness to them? Maybe they needed a rather more worldly-wise man, as Willibrord, despite his monastic state, seems to have been, to get the message across. Or perhaps the obstreperous Radbod was the problem, in those days of feudal obligation – Willibrord had no great success with Radbod (what a brilliant name) either. Wigbert seems at last to have decided to play to his strengths, and serve where he could do the most good. I wonder whether he found his two years’ failure a useful or edifying experience for later. Was he threatened? imprisoned? Were the Frisians simply uninterested? were they fearful? did they look after him when he arrived in a new town? Did they throw vegetables? Good for him for trying, and good for him to change his plan for a better one. The important thing for him was that the job was done, not who did it or where, or even when.

article by Daniel Lieuwen: St Willibrord, St Boniface, and the Early Missionaries to the Netherlands
Holy St Wigbert, pray to God for us.
Holy St Wigbert, pray to God for us.


  1. Dear Anna, so good to hear from you. I love your blog with all the medieval saints, I will have to start checking back.

    I miss York occasionally, and bright medieval stained glass. I wish I could have heard your Evensong singing the other night.

    My daughter claims I am no longer a “medieval woman” since I do more with candy experiments now. I disagree. I will always have a little of that in me.

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