Skip to content

Western Monasticism

(1) Pre-Benedictine Period

The introduction of monasticism into the West may be dated from about A.D. 340 when St. Athanasius visited Rome accompanied by the two Egyptian monks Ammon and Isidore, disciples of St. Anthony. The publication of the "Vita Antonii" some years later and its translation into Latin spread the knowledge of Egyptian monachism widely and many were found in Italy to imitate the example thus set forth. The first Italian monks aimed at reproducing exactly what was done in Egypt and not a few -- such as St. Jerome, Rufinus, Paula, Eustochium and the two Melanias -- actually went to live in Egypt or Palestine as being better suited to monastic life than Italy. As however the records of early Italian monasticism are very scanty, it will be more convenient to give first a short account of early monastic life in Gaul, our knowledge of which is much more complete.

(a) Gaul

The first exponent of monasticism in Gaul seems to have been St. Martin, who founded a monastery at Ligugé near Poitiers, c. 360 (see LIGUGE; MARTIN OF TOURS, ST.). Soon after he was consecrated Bishop of Tours ; he then formed a monastery outside that city, which he made his customary residence. Although only some two miles from the city the spot was so retired that Martin found there the solitude of a hermit. His cell was a hut of wood, and round it his disciples, who soon numbered eighty, dwelt in caves and huts. The type of life was simply the Antonian monachism of Egypt (see EASTERN MONASTICISM) and so rapidly did it spread that, at St. Martin's funeral, two thousand monks were present. Even more famous was the monastery of Lérins which gave to the Church of Gaul some of its most famous bishops and saints. In it the famous Abbot John Cassian settled after living for seven years among the monks of Egypt, and from it he founded the great Abbey of St. Victor of Marseilles. Cassian was undoubtedly the most celebrated teacher that the monks of Gaul ever had, and his influence was all on the side of the primitve Egyptian ideals. Consequently we find that the eremitical life was regarded as being the summit or goal of monastic ambition and the means of perfection recommended were, as in Egypt, extreme personal austerities with prolonged fasts and vigils, and the whole atmosphere of ascetical endeavour so dear to the heart of the Antonian monk (see CASSIAN, JOHN; FRANCE; CAESARIUS OF ARLES, ST.; LE´RINS, etc.).

(b) Celtic Monasticism (Ireland, Wales, Scotland)

Authorities are still divided as to the origin of Celtic monasticism, but the view most commonly accepted is that of Mr. Willis Bund which holds it to have been a purelyindigenous growth and rejects the idea of any direct connexion with Gallic or Egyptian monasticism. It seems clear that the first Celtic monasteries were merely settlements where the Christians lived together -- priests and laity, men, women, and children alike -- as a kind of religious clan. At a later period actual monasteries both of monks and nuns were formed, and later still the eremitical life came into vogue. It seems highly probable that the ideas and literature of Egyptian or Gallic monachism may have influenced these later developments, even if the Celtic monasticism were purely independent in origin, for the external manifestations are identical in all three forms. Indeed the desire for austerities of an extreme character has always remained a special feature of Irish asceticism down to our own time. Want of space forbids any detailed account of Celtic monasticism in this place but the following articles may be referred to: (for Ireland ) ARMAGH, BANGOR, CLONARD, CLONFERT, CLONMACNOISE, LISMORE, BOBBIO, LUXEUIL, SAINTS PATRICK, CARTHAGE, COLUMBANUS, COMGALL; (for Wales ) LLANCARVAN, BANGOR, SAINTS ASAPH, DAVID, DUBRIC, GILDAS, KENTIGERN; (for Scotland ) SCHOOL OF IONA, ABBEY OF LINDISFARNE, SAINTS NINIAN, COLUMBA, AIDAN. Undoubtedly, however, the chief glory of Celtic monasticism is its missionary work, the results of which are to be found all over northwestern Europe. The observance, at first so distinctive, gradually lost its special character and fell into line with that of other countries; but, by that time, Celtic monasticism had passed its zenith and its influence had declined.

(c) Italy

Like the other countries of Western Europe, Italy long retained a purely Eastern character in its monastic observance. The climate and other causes however combined to render its practice far harder than in the lands of its origin. In consequence the standard of observance declined, and it is clear from the Prologue to St. Benedict's Rule that by his day the lives of the monks left much to be desired. Moreover there was as yet no fixed code of laws to regulate the life either of the monastery or of the individual monk. Each house had its own customs and practices, its own collection of rules dependent largely on the choice of the abbot of the moment. There were certainly in the West translations of various Eastern codes, e.g., the Rules of Pachomius and Basil and another attributed to Macarius. There were also St. Augustine's famous letter (Ep., ccxi) on the management of convents of nuns, and also the writings of Cassian, but the only actual Rules of Western origin were the two by St. Caesarius for monks and nuns respectively, and that by St. Columbanus, none of which could be called a working code for the management of a monastery. In a word monachism was still waiting for the man who should adapt it to Western needs and circumstances and give to it a special form distinct from that of the East. This man was found in the person of St. Benedict (480-543).

(2) The Spread of St. Benedict's Rule

Full details of St. Benedict's legislation, which had such immense effects on the monasticism of Western Europe, will be found in the articles BENEDICT OF NURSIA, ST., and BENEDICT, RULE OF ST. It is sufficient here to point out that St. Benedict legislated for the details of the monastic life in a way that had never been done before either in East or West. It is clear that he had acquainted himself thoroughly with the lives of the Egyptian fathers of the desert, with the writings of St. Basil, Cassian, and Rufinus; and in the main lines he has no intention of departing from the precedents set by these great authorities. Still the standard of asceticism aimed at by him, as was inevitable in the West, is less severe than that of Egypt or Syria. Thus he gives his monks good and ample food. He permits them to drink wine. He secures a sufficient period of unbroken sleep. His idea was evidently to set up a standard that could and should be attained by all the monks of a monastery, leaving it to individual inspiration to essay greater austerities if the need of these were felt by any one. On the other hand, probably as a safeguard against the relaxations mentioned above, he requires a greater degree of seclusion than St. Basil had done. So far as possible all connexion with the world outside the monastery is to be avoided. If any monk be compelled by duty to go beond the monastery enclosure he is forbidden on his return to speak of what he has seen or heard. So too no monk may receive gifts or letters from his friends or relatives without permission of the abbot. It is true that guests from without are to be received and entertained, but only certain monks specially chosen for the purpose nay hold intercourse with them.

Perhaps, however, the chief point in which St. Benedict modified the pre-existing practice is his insistence upon the stabilitas loci . By the special Vow of Stability he unites the monk for life to the particular monastery in which his vows are made. This was really a new development and one of the highest importance. In the first place by this the last vestige of personal freedom was taken away from the monk. Secondly it secured in each monastery that continuity of theory and practice which is so essential for the family which St. Benedict desired above everything. The abbot was to be a father and the monk a child. Nor was he to be more capable of choosing a new father or a new home than any other child was. After all St. Benedict was a Roman, and the scion of a Roman patrician family, and he was simply bringing into the monastic life that absolute dependence of all the members of a family upon the father which is so typical of Roman law and usage. Only at the selection of a new abbot can the monks choose for themselves. Once elected the abbot's power becomes absolute; there is nothing to control him except the Rule and his own conscience which is responsible for the salvation of every soul entrusted to his care.

The Rule of St. Benedict was written at Monte Cassino in the ten or fifteen years preceding the saint's death in 543, but very little is known of the way in which it began to spread to other monasteries. St. Gregory (Dial., II, xxii) speaks of a foundation made from Monte Cassino at Terracina, but nothing is known of this house. Again the traditions of Benedictine foundations in Gaul and Sicily by St. Maurus and St. Placid are now generally discredited. Still the Rule must have become known very soon, for by the death of St. Simplicius, the third abbot of Monte Cassino, in line from St. Benedict, it is referred to as being observed throughout Italy. In the year 580 Monte Cassino was destroyed by the Lombards and the monks fled to Rome, taking with them the autograph copy of the Rule. They were installed by Pelagius II in a monastery near the Lateran Basilica. It is almost certain that St. Gregory the Great who succeeded Pelagius II introduced the Benedictine Rule and observance into the monastery of St. Andrew which he founded on the Coelian Hill at Rome, and also into the six monasteries he founded in Sicily. Thanks to St. Gregory the Rule was carried to England by St. Augustine and his fellow monks ; and also to the Frankish and Lombard monasteries which the pope's influence did much to revive. Indirectly too, by devoting the second book of his "Dialogues" to the story of St. Benedict's life and work, Gregory gave a strong impetus to the spread of the Rule. Thus the first stage in the advance of St. Benedict's code across Western Europe is closely bound up with the name of the first monk- pope.

In the seventh century the process continued steadily. Sometimes the Benedictine code existed side by side with an older observance. This was the case at Bobbio where the monks lived either under the rule of St. Benedict or St. Columbanus, who had founded the monastery in 609. In Gaul at the same period a union of two or more rules was often to be found, as at Luxeuil, Solignac, and elsewhere. In this there was nothing surprising, indeed the last chapter of St. Benedict's rule seems almost to contemplate such an arrangeent. In England, thanks to St. Wilfrid of York, St. Benedict Biscop and others, the Benedictine mode of life began to be regarded as the only true type of monachism. Its influence however was still slight in Ireland where the Celtic monastcism gave way more slowly. In the eighth century the advance of Benedictinism went on with even greater rapidity owing principally to the efforts of St. Boniface. That saint is known as the Apostle of Germany although the Irish missionaries had preceded him there. His energies however were divided between the two tasks of converting the remaining heathen tribes and bringing the Christianity of the Irish converts into line with the Roman use and obedience. In both these undertakings he achieved great success and his triumph meant the destruction of the earlier Columban form of monasticism. Fulda, the great monastery of St. Boniface's institution, was modelled directly on Monte Cassino in which Sturm the abbot had resided for some time so that he might become perfectly acquainted with the workings of the Rule at the fountain head, and in its turn Fulda became the model for all German monasteries. Thus by the reign of Charlemagne the Benedictine form of monasticism had become the normal type throughout the West with the sole exception of some few Spanish and Irish cloisters. So completely was this the case that even the memory of earlier things had passed away and it could be gravely doubted whether monks of any kind at all had existed before St. Benedict and whether there could be any other monks but Benedictines.

At the time of Charlemagne's death in 814 the most famous monk in western Europe was St. Benedict of Aniane , the friend and counsellor of Louis the new emperor. For him Louis built a monastery near his imperial palace at Aix, and there Benedict gathered thirty monks, chosen from among his own personal friends and in full sympathy with his ideas. This monastery was intended to be a model for all the religious houses of the empire, and the famous Assembly of 817 passed a series of resolutions which touched upon the whole range of the monastic life. The object of these resolutions was to secure, even in the minutest details, an absolute uniformity in all the monasteries of the empire, so that it might seem as if "all had been taught by one single master in one single spot". As might have been expected the scheme failed to do this, or even anything approaching thereto, but the resolutions of the Assembly are of high interest as the first example of what are nowadays called "Constitutions", i.e. a code, supplementary to the Holy Rule, which shall regulate the lesser details of everyday life and practice. The growth of the Benedictine monasticism and its development during the period known as the "Benedictine centuries" will be found treated in the article BENEDICTINES, but it may be stated broadly that, while it had of course its periods of vigour and decline, no serious modification of St. Benedict's system was attempted until the rise of Cluny in the early part of the tenth century.

(3) The Rise of Cluny

The essential novelty in the Cluniac system was its centralization. Hitherto every monastery had been a separate family, independent of all the rest. The ideal of Cluny, however, was to set up one great central monastery with dependent houses, numbered even by the hundred, scattered over many lands and forming a vast hierarchy or monastic feudal system under the Abbot of Cluny. The superior of every house was nominated by the Abbot of Cluny, every monk was professed in his name and with his sanction. It was in fact more like an army subject to a general than St. Benedict's scheme of a family with a father to guide it, and for two centuries it dominated the Church in Western Europe with a power second only to that of the papacy itself. (See CLUNY, BERNO, ST.; ODO, ST.; HUGH THE GREAT.) Anything indeed more unlike the primitive monasticism with its caves and individualism than this elaborate system with the pomp and circumstance which soon attended it could hardly be imagined, and the instinct which prompted men to become monks soon began to tell against a type of monasticism so dangerously liable to relapse into mere formalism. It must be understood however that the observance of Cluny was still strict and the reaction against it was not based on any need for a reform in morals or discipline. The abbots of Cluny during the first two centuries of its existence, with the sole exception of Pontius (1109) who was soon deposed, were men of great sanctity and commanding ability. In practice however the system had resulted in crushing all initiative out of the superiors of the subordinate monasteries and so, when a renewal of vigour was needed there was no one capable of the effort required and the life was crushed out of the body by its own weight. That this defect was the real cause why the system failed is certain. Nothing is more remarkable in the history of Benedictine monasticism than its power of revival by the springing up of renewed life from within. Again and again, when reform has been needed, the impetus has been found to come from within the body instead of from outside it. But in the case of Cluny such a thing had been rendered practically impossible, and on its decline no recovery took place.

(4) Reaction Against Cluny

The reaction against Cluny and the system of centralization took various forms. Early in the eleventh century (1012) came the foundation of the Camaldolese by St. Romuald. This was a hark back to the ancient Egyptian ideal of a number of hermits living in a "laura" or collection of detached cells which were situated some considerable distance apart (see CAMALDOLESE). A few years later (1039) St. John Gualbert founded the Order of Vallombrosa which is chiefly important for the institution of " lay brothers ", as distinct from the choir monks, a novelty which assumes high importance in later monastic history (see LAY-BROTHER; VALLOMBROSA). In 1074 came the Order of Grammont which however did not move to the place from which its name is derived until 1124 (see GRAMMONT; STEPHEN OF MURET, ST.). Far more important than these was the establishment in 1084 of the Carthusians by St. Bruno, at the Grande Chartreuse near Grenoble, which boasts that it alone of the great orders has never required to be reformed (see CARTHUSIANS; CHARTREUSE, LA GRANDE; BRUNO, ST.). In all these four institutes the tendency was towards a more eremitical and secluded form of life than that followed by the Benedictines, but this was not the case in the greatest of all the foundations of the period, viz. the Cistercians.

The Cistercians derived their name from Cîteaux near Dijon where the Order was founded about 1098 by St. Robert of Molesme . The new development differed from that of Cluny in this that, while Cluny established one scattered family of vast size, Cîteaux preserved the idea that each monastery was an individual family but united all these families into one "Order" in the modern sense of an organized congregation. The Abbot and House of Cîteaux was to be pre-eminently for ever over all the monasteries of the order. The abbots of all the other monasteries were to assemble at Cîteaux in general chapter every year. The purpose of this was to secure in every monastery a complete uniformity in the details of observance, and this uniformity was to be made even more certain by a yearly visitation of each house. The Abbot of Cîteaux possessed the further right of visiting any and every monastery at will, and though he was not to interfere with the temporalities of any house against the wishes of the abbot and brethren, in all matters of discipline his power was absolute. This elaborate system was set forth in the famous document known as the "Carta Caritatis" and in it for the first time the expression "Our Order" is used in the modern sense. Previously the word, as used in the phrase "the monastic order" had denoted the mode of life common to every monastery. In the "Carta Caritatis" it is used to exclude all monastic observance not exactly on the lines of the "new monastery ", i.e., Cîteaux, and subject to it. The monasteries of the Cistercians spread over Europe with surprising rapidity and from the colour of their habit the monks were called the "White Monks ", the older Benedictines and Cluniacs being known as the "Black Monks" (see CISTERCIANS; CITEAUX; ROBERT OF MOLESME,ST.; BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX, ST.)

The impetus given by these new foundations helped to revitalize the Benedictine monasteries of the older type, but at the same time a new influence was at work upon western monasticism. Hitherto the monastic ideal had been essentially contemplative. Certainly the monks had undertaken active work of many kinds but always as a kind of accident, or to meet some immediate necessity, not as a primary object of their institute nor as an end in itself. Now however religious foundations of an active type began to be instituted, which were dedicated to some particular active work or works as a primary end of their foundation. Of this class were the Military Orders, the Templars, Hospitallers, and Teutonic Knights ; numerous Institutes of canons, e.g., Augustinians, Premonstratensians, and Gilbertines; the many Orders of friars, e.g. Carmelites, Trinitarians, Servites, Dominicans, and Franciscans or Friars Minor. Of these and the multitudinous modern foundations of an active character, as distinct from a contemplative or monastic one, this article does not profess to treat; they will be found fully dealt with in the general article RELIGIOUS ORDERS and also individually in separate articles under the names of the various orders and congregations. It must be recognized however that these active institutions attracted a vast number of vocations and to that extent tended to check the increase and development of the monastic order strictly so called, even while their fervour and success spurred the older institutes to a renewal of zeal in their special observances.

The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 passed certain special canons to regulate monastic observance and prevent any falling away from the standard set up. These directions tended to adapt the best features of the Cistercians system, e.g. the general chapters, to the use of the Black monks, and they were a great step in the path which later proved so successful. At the time however they were practically ignored by the monasteries on the Continent, and only in England was any serious effort made to put them into practice. The consequence was that the English monasteries of Black monks soon formed themselves into one national congregation, the observance throughout the country became largely uniform, and a far higher standard of life obtained than was common in continental monasteries at the same period. The system of periodic general chapters ordered by the Lateran Council was maintained. So too was the subjection of all monasteries to the diocesan bishops as a normal state of affairs; indeed only five abbeys in all England were exempt from episcopal jurisdiction. There were of course failures here and there, but it is clear that, from the date of the Council of Lateran up to the time of their destruction, the English Benedictine houses maintained on the whole a good standard of discipline and preserved the affectionate respect of the great majority of the laity in every rank of life.

(5) Period of Monastic Decline

On the Continent the period succeeding the Fourth Lateran Council was one of steady decline. The history of the time tells of civil disturbance, intellectual upheaval, and a continual increase of luxury among ecclesiastics as well as laymen. The wealth of the monasteries was tempting and the great ones both in Church and State seized upon them. Kings, nobles, cardinals, and prelates obtained nominations to abbeys "in commendam" and more often than not absorbed the revenues of houses which they left to go to ruin. Vocations grew scarce and not unfrequently the communities were reduced to a mere handful of monks living on a trifling allowance doled out to them none too willingly by the layman or ecclesiastic who claimed to be their commendatory abbot . Efforts to check these evils were not wanting especially in Italy. The Sylvestrines, founded by St. Sylvester de Gozzolini about the middle of the thirteenth century, were organized on a system of perpetual superiors under one head, the Prior of Monte Fano, who ruled the whole congregation as general assisted by a chapter consisting of representatives from each house (see SYLVESTRINES). The Celestines, founded about forty years later by St. Peter Morone (Celestine V) , were organized on much the same plan but the superiors were not perpetual and the head of the whole body was an abbot elected by the General Chapter for three years and ineligible for reelection for nine years after his previous term of office (see CELESTINES; ST. CELESTINE V ). The Olivetans, founded about 1313 by Bernardo Tolomei of Siena, mark the last stage of development. In their case the monks were not professed for any particulat monastery, but, like friars, for the congregation in general. The officials of the various houses were chosen by a small committee appointed for this purpose by the general chapter. The abbot-general was visitor of all the monasteries and "superior of superiors", but his power was held for a vary short period only. This system had the very great advantage that it rendered the existence of commendatory superiors practically impossible, but it secured this at the cost of sacrificing all family life in the individual monastery which is the central idea of St. Benedict's legislation. Further, by taking the right of election away from the monastic communities, it concentrated all real power in the hands of a small committee, a course obviously open to many possible dangers (see OLIVETANS).

(6) Monastic Revival

In the great wave of reform and revival which characterized the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the older institutions of Benedictines once more gave proof of their vitality and a spontaneous renewal of vigour was shown throughout Europe. This revival followed two main lines. In the Latin countries the movement pursued the path marked out by the Olivetans. Thus in Italy all the monasteries of Black monks were gradually united together under the name of the Congregation of St. Justina of Padua, afterwards called the Cassinese Congregation (see under BENEDICTINES). Similar methods were adopted in the formation of the Congregations of St. Maur and St. Vannes in France, in the two Congregations of Spanish Benedictines, and in the revival of the English Congregation. In Germany the revival took a different path; and, while keeping closer to the traditions of the past, united the existing monasteries very much in the manner ordered by the Fourth Council of Lateran in 1215. The Union of Bursfeld is perhaps the best example of this method. An example of reform in the seventeenth century was the work of Abbé de Rance in instituting the Cistercian reform at La Trappe. In this his object was to get as close as possible to the principal form of Benedictine life. No one can question his sincerity or the singleness of his intentions, but de Rance was not an antiquary and had not been trained as a monk but as a courtier. The result was that he interpreted St. Benedict's rule with the most absolute literalness, and thus succeeded in producing a cast-iron mode of life far more rigid and exacting than there is any reason to believe St. Benedict himself either desired to or did beget. The upheaval of the French Revolution and the wars which followed it seemed likely to give a deathblow to Western monasticism and in fact did destroy monasteries by the hundred. But nothing perhaps is more noteworthy, in all the wonderful revival of Catholicism which the last hundred years have seen, than the resuscitation of monastic life in all its forms, not only in Europe, but also in America, Africa, Australia, and other distant lands whose very existence was unknown to the founders of Western monasticism. Details of this revival will be found in the articles on the various orders and congregations referred to above.

No mention has been made in this article of the question of women under monasticism. Broadly speaking the history of contemplative nuns, as distinct from nuns of the more recent active orders, has been identical with that of the monks. In almost every instance the modifications, reforms, etc., made by the various monastic legislators have been adopted by convents of women as well as by the monks. In cases where any special treatment has been thought necessary, e.g. the Carthusian nuns, a separate section of the article on the order or congregation in question has been dedicated to the subject. These sections should be referred to in all cases for detailed information. (For practical details of the monastic life and the actual working of a monastery see the articles MONASTICISM; MONASTERY; ABBEY; ABBOT; ABBESS; OBEDIENTIARIES; BENEDICT, RULE OF ST.; BENEDICT OF NURSIA, ST.; NUN.)

More Volume: W 303

Click/Touch the sub-volume below to view encyclopedia articles within the sub-volume.

1

Wörndle, Von, Family

Philip von Wörndle Of Adelsfried and Weierburg, major of a Tyrolese rifle-corps, commandant ...

× Close

4

Würtemberg, Kingdom of

In area the third and in population the fourth of the states of the German Empire. It is situated ...

Würzburg Abbeys

See also DIOCESE OF WÜRZBURG and UNIVERSITY OF WÜRZBURG ABBEYS ; The city of ...

Würzburg, Diocese of

(HERBIPOLENSIS). See also UNIVERSITY OF WÜRZBURG and WÜRZBURG ABBEYS ; Located ...

Würzburg, University of

See also DIOCESE OF WÜRZBURG and WÜRZBURG ABBEYS ; John I of Egloffstein ...

× Close

Wa 69

Waagen, Wilhelm Heinrich

Geologist, and palæontologist, born at Munich, 23 June, 1841; died at Vienna, 24 March, ...

Wace, Robert

Poet, born at Jersey, about 1100; died at Bayeux, 1174. His maternal grandfather, Toustein, was a ...

Wachter, Eberhard

Painter, born at Stuttgart, 29 February, 1762; died at Stuttgart, 14 August, 1852. He studied ...

Wadding, Luke

Historian and theologian, born at Waterford, Ireland, 16 October, 1588; died at St. Isidore's ...

Wadding, Michael

(GODINEZ). Mystical theologian, born at Waterford, Ireland, in 1591; died in Mexico, Dec. ...

Waire, Venerable

English friar and martyr, hanged, drawn, and quartered at St. Thomas Waterings in Camberwell (a ...

Waitzen, Diocese of

(VÄCZ or VACIENSIS). Located in Hungary ; suffragan of Gran ; probably founded by King ...

Wakash Indians

A linguistic family inhabiting the western coast of British Columbia from 50° 30' to Garden ...

Walafrid

(Walahfrid; surnamed Strabo -- "the Squinter"). German poet and theologian of the ninth ...

Walburga, Saint

(WALTPURDE, WALPURGIS; at Perche GAUBURGE; in other parts of France VAUBOURG, FALBOURG). Born ...

Waldeck, Principality of

(Or WALDECK-PYRMONT). A former state of the German Empire , with an area of 433 square miles; ...

Waldenses

An heretical sect which appeared in the second half of the twelfth century and, in a ...

Waldsassen, Abbey of

("Settlement in the woods"). Located on the River Wondreb, Upper Palatinate, near the border ...

Waldseemüller, Martin

(Graecized ILACOMILUS). Learned Humanist and celebrated cartographer, born at Wolfenweiler ...

Walenburch, Adrian and Peter von

Auxiliary bishops of Cologne and celebrated controversial theologians, born at Rotterdam at the ...

Wales

Wales is that western portion of Great Britain which lies between the Irish Sea and the River ...

Walkenried

Formerly one of the most celebrated Cistercian abbeys of Germany, situated in the Duchy of ...

Wall, Venerable John

Martyr, born in Lancashire, 1620; suffered near Worcester, 22 August, 1679; known at Douay and ...

Walla-Walla Indians

A Shahaptian tribe dwelling on the Walla-Walla (i.e. rushing water) River and the Columbia in ...

Wallenstein, Albrecht von

(WALDSTEIN). Born at Hermanic, Bohemia, 24 September, 1583; died at Eger, Bohemia, 24 ...

Wallon Henri-Alexandre

Historian and statesman, born at Valenciennes (Nord), in 1812); died at Paris, in 1904. Fellow of ...

Walmesley, Charles

Bishop of Rama, Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, England, b. 13 Jan., 1722; d. at Bath, ...

Walpole, Ven. Henry

English Jesuit martyr, born at Docking, Norfolk, 1558; martyred at York, 7 April, 1595. He was ...

Walsh, Edward

Irish poet, born at Derry actually Doire, near Kiskeam in County Cork in 1805; died at Cork, ...

Walsh, Patrick

Journalist, United States senator; born at Ballingary, Co. Limerick, Ireland, 1 January, 1840; ...

Walsh, Peter

Irish Franciscan, born at Mooretown, County Kildare, about 1608; died in London, 15 March, 1688. ...

Walsh, Robert

Publicist, diplomat, born at Baltimore, MD., 1785; died at Paris, 7 Feb., 1859. He was one of the ...

Walsh, Thomas

Born in London, October, 1777; d. there, 18 February, 1849. His father, an Irish merchant, ...

Walsh, William

Bishop of Meath, Ireland (1554-77); b. at Dunboyne, Co. Meath, about 1512; d. at Alcalá ...

Walsingham Priory

Walsingham Priory stood a few miles from the sea in the northern part of Norfolk, England. ...

Walsingham, Thomas

Benedictine historian, died about 1422. He is supposed to have been a native of Walsingham, ...

Walter of Châtillon

(GAUTIER DE LILLE, GUALTERUS DE INSULIS; also GAUTIER DE CHATILLON, GAULTERUS DE CASTILLIONE). ...

Walter of Merton

Bishop of Rochester and founder of Merton College, Oxford, b. probably at Merton in Surrey or ...

Walter of Mortagne

A twelfth-century Scholastic philosopher, and theologian, b. at Mortagne in Flanders in the ...

Walter of St-Victor

Mystic philosopher and theologian of the twelth century. Nothing is known about Walter except ...

Walter of Winterburn

An English Dominican, cardinal, orator, poet, philosopher, theologian, b. in the thirteenth ...

Walter, Ferdinand

Jurist, born at Wetzlar, 30 November, 1794; died at Bonn, 13 December, 1879. After studying at the ...

Waltham Abbey

The Abbey of Waltham Holy Cross stood in Essex, some ten miles to the northeast of London, on ...

Walther von der Vogelweide

Minnesinger and old poet, born about 1170; died in 1228. Only one old document mentions the name ...

Walton, Brian

Biblical scholar, editor of Walton's Polyglot Bible, born at Seymour, or Seamer, near York, in ...

Wandelbert

Benedictine monk and theological writer, born in 813; died at Prüm after 850. Little is ...

Wangnereck, Heinrich

(WAGNERECK). Theologian, preacher, author, born at Munich in July, 1595; died at Dillingen, ...

War

War, in its juridical sense, is a contention carried on by force of arms between sovereign states, ...

Ward, Hugh

( Irish, ÆDH BUIDH MAC-AN-BHAIRD). Hagiographer, born in Donegal, about 1590; died 8 ...

Ward, James Harman

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, 1806; killed in attack on Matthias Point, Virginia, 27 June, ...

Ward, Margaret, Saint

Martyr, born at Congleton, Cheshire; executed at Tyburn, London, 30 Aug., 1588. Nothing is known ...

Ward, Mary

Foundress, born 23 January, 1585; died 23 January, 1645; eldest daughter of Marmaduke Ward and ...

Ward, Thomas

Born at Danby Castle near Guisborough, Yorkshire, 13 April, 1652; d. at St-Germain, France, ...

Ward, Ven. William

(Real name WEBSTER). Born at Thornby in Westmoreland, about 1560; martyred at Tyburn, 26 ...

Ward, William George

An English writer and convert, eldest son of William Ward, Esq., born in London, 21 March, ...

Warde, Mary Francis Xavier

Born at Belbrook House, Mountrath, Queen's County, Ireland, 1810; died at Manchester, N.H., 17 ...

Warham, William

Archbishop of Canterbury, born at Church Oakley, Hampshire, about 1450; died at Hackington, ...

Warsaw, Archdiocese of

(VARSAVIENSIS). Warsaw (Polish, Warszawa ), on the western bank of the Vistula, is the ...

Wartenberg, Franz Wilhelm, Count von

Bishop of Osnabrück and cardinal, eldest son of Duke Ferdinand of Bavaria and his ...

Washing of Feet and Hands

Owing to the general use of sandals in Eastern countries the washing of the feet was almost ...

Washington, D.C.

(DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA) Washington, the capital of the United States, is situated on the left ...

Washington, State of

One of the Pacific coast states, popularly known as the "Evergreen State", the sixteenth in size ...

Water, Holy

The use of holy water in the earliest days of the Christian Era is attested by documents of ...

Water, Holy, Fonts

Vessels intended for the use of holy water are of very ancient origin, and archaeological ...

Water, Liturgical Use of

Besides the holy water which is used by the Church in so many of her rites of blessing, and ...

Waterford and Lismore

(Waterfordiensis et Lismorensis), suffragan of Cashel. This diocese is almost coterminous with ...

Waterson, Ven. Edward

Born at London ; martyred at Newcastle-on-Tyne, 7 January 1594 (1593 old style). A romantic ...

Waterton, Charles

Naturalist and explorer, born in Walton Hall near Wakefield, Yorkshire, England, in 1782; died ...

Waterworth, James

Born at St. Helen's, Lancashire, 1806; d. at Old Hall, Newark, 28 March, 1876. Educated at ...

Watteau, Jean Antoine

French painter, and founder and leader of the school usually known as that of the painters of Les ...

Waverley, Cistercian Abbey of

Situated in Surrey, near Farnham, founded by William Gifford, Bishop of Winchester, on 24 Nov., ...

Way of the Cross

(Also called Stations of the Cross, Via Crucis, and Via Dolorosa). These names are used to signify ...

Way or State

The word state is used in various senses by theologians and spiritual writers. It may be ...

Way, Ven. William

( Alias MAY, alias FLOWER). English priest and martyr, born in Exeter Diocese ...

× Close

We 52

Wealth, Use of

The term "wealth" is not used here in the technical sense in which it occurs in treatises on ...

Wearmouth Abbey

Located on the river Wear, in Durham, England ; a Benedictine monastery founded in 674 by St. ...

Weathers, William

Titular Bishop of Amyela; born 12 November, 1814; died at Isleworth, Middlesex, 4 March, 1895. ...

Webb, Benjamin Joseph

Editor, historian, born at Bardstown, Kentucky, 25 February, 1814; died at Louisville, Kentucky, ...

Webbe, Samuel

English composer, born in England in 1742; died in London, 29 May, 1816. He studied under ...

Weber, Beda

Benedictine professor, author, and member of the National German Parliament, born at Lienz in the ...

Weber, Friedrich Wilhelm

Physician, member of the Prussian House of Deputies, and poet, born at Alhausen, near Driburg, ...

Weber, Heinrich

German Church historian, born at Euerdorf in the Diocese of Würzburg , 21 June, 1834; died ...

Weber, Karl Maria Friedrich Ernst von

Composer, born at Eutin, Lower Saxony, 18 December, 1786; died in London, 5 June, 1826. His ...

Weedall, Henry

Born in London, 6 September, 1788; died at Oscott, 7 November, 1859. Both his parents died ...

Week, Liturgical

The week as a measure of time is a sufficiently obvious division of the lunar month, and the ...

Wegg-Prosser, Francis Richard

Only son of Rev. Prebendary Francis Haggit, rector of Newnham Coutney, born at Newnham Courtney, ...

Weingarten

(MONASTERIUM VINEARUM, AD VINEAS, or WEINGARTENSE). A suppressed Benedictine abbey, near ...

Weis, Nicolaus von

Bishop of Speyer, born at Rimlingen, Lorraine, 8 March, 1796; died at Speyer, 13 December, ...

Weislinger, Johann Nikolaus

Polemical writer, born at Puttlingen in German Lorraine, 1691; died at Kappel-Rodeck in Baden, 29 ...

Weiss, Johann Baptist

Born at Ettenheim, Baden, 17 July, 1820; died at Graz, 8 March, 1899. After completing his ...

Weissenau, Monastery of

(Originally OWE_AUGIA, then MINDERLAU-AUGIA MINOR, and finally WEISSEN AU-AUGIA ALBA or CANDIDA). ...

Weitenauer, Ignatius von

Litterateur, exegete, and Orientalist, born at Ingolstadt, Bavaria, 1 November, 1709; died at ...

Welbourne, Ven. Thomas

Martyred at York, 1 August, 1605. Nothing is known about about this martyr except the scanty ...

Weld

The name of an ancient English family (branches of which are found in several parts of England ...

Weld, Frederick Aloysius

Youngest son of Humphrey Weld, born at Chidcock Manor, Dorset, 1823; died there, 1891. He was ...

Welle, Prefecture Apostolic of

Located in the extreme north of Belgian Congo, Africa, separated by a Decree of the Propaganda ...

Wellington, Archdiocese of

(WELLINGTONIENSIS). Located in New Zealand, originally formed part of the Vicariate of ...

Wells in Scripture

It is difficult for inhabitants of a more humid climate to realize the importance which a country ...

Wells, Ven. Smithin

English martyr, born at Brambridge, Hampshire, about 1536; hanged at Gray's Inn Lane, London, ...

Welser, Bartholomeus

German merchant prince, born at Augsburg, 1488; died at Amberg, near Turkheim, Swabia, 1561. His ...

Welsh Church

In giving separate consideration to the Church of Wales, we follow a practice common among ...

Welsh Monastic Foundations

Few saints of the early British Church, as it existed before the Saxon invasion, are known to ...

Welte, Benedict

Exegete, born at Ratzenried in Würtemberg, 25 November, 1825; died 27 May, 1885. After ...

Wenceslaus, Saint

( Also Vaclav, Vaceslav.) Duke, martyr, and patron of Bohemia, born probably 903; died at ...

Wendelin of Trier, Saint

Born about 554; died probably in 617. His earliest biographies, two in Latin and two in German, ...

Weninger, Francis Xavier

Jesuit missionary and author, born at Wildhaus, Styria, Austria, 31 October, 1805; died at ...

Wenrich of Trier

German ecclesiastico-polical writer of the eleventh century. He was a canon at Verdun, and ...

Werburgh, Saint

(WEREBURGA, WEREBURG, VERBOURG). Benedictine, patroness of Chester, Abbess of Weedon, ...

Werden

(WERTHINA, WEERDA, WERDENA). A suppressed Benedictine monastery near Essen in Rhenish ...

Werner, Friedrich Ludwig Zacharias

Convert, poet, and pulpit orator, born at Konigsberg, Prussia, 18 November, 1768; died at ...

Wessel Goesport, John

(GANSFORT). A fifteenth-century Dutch theologian, born at Gröningen in 1420; died there ...

Wessenberg, Ignaz Heinrich von

Vicar-General and Administrator of the Diocese of Constance, born at Dresden, 4 November, 1774; ...

Wessobrunn

(WESSOGONTANTUM, AD FONTES WESSONIS). A suppressed Benedictine abbey near Weilheim in Upper ...

West Syrian Rite

The rite used by the Jacobite sect in Syria and by the Catholic Syrians is in its origin ...

West Virginia

A state of the American Union, bounded on the northeast by Pennsylvania and Maryland, on the ...

Westcott, Sebastian

English organist, born about 1524, was a chorister, under Redford, at St. Paul's Cathedral, ...

Westeraas, Ancient See of

(AROSI, AROSIENSIS). Located in Sweden. The Catholic diocese included the lands of ...

Western Schism

This schism of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries differs in all points from the Eastern ...

Westminster Abbey

This most famous of all English abbeys is situated within the precincts of the Royal Palace of ...

Westminster Cathedral

As a national expression of religious faith given by Roman Catholics to England since the ...

Westminster, Archdiocese of

(WESTMONASTERIENSIS). Erected and made metropolitan in 1850, comprises the Counties of ...

Westminster, Matthew of

The name given to the supposed author of a well-known English chronicle, the "Flores Historiarum". ...

Weston, William

Jesuit missionary priest, born at Maidstone, 1550 (?); died at Valladolid, Spain, 9 June, ...

Westphalia

A province of Prussia situated between the Rhine and the Weser. It is bounded on the northwest ...

Wettingen-Mehrerau, Abbacy Nullius of

A Cistercian abbey near Bregenz, Vorarlberg, Austria. The Cistercian monastery of Wettingen ...

Wetzer, Heinrich Joseph

Learned Orientalist, born at Anzefahr in Hesse-Cassel, 19 March, 1801; died at Freiburg in ...

× Close

Wh 23

Wharton, Ven. Christopher

Born at Middleton, Yorkshire, before 1546; martyred at York, 28 March, 1600. He was the second ...

Wheeling, Diocese of

(WHELINGENSIS). Comprises the State of West Virginia except the following counties, which are ...

Whipple, Amiel Weeks

Military engineer and soldier, born at Greenwich, Massachusetts, 1818; died at Washington, D.C., ...

Whitaker, Venerable Thomas

Born at Burnley, Lancashire, 1614; martyred at Lancaster, 7 August, 1646. Son of Thomas ...

Whitbread, Venerable Thomas

( Alias HARCOURT). Born in Essex, 1618; martyred at Tyburn, 30 June, 1679. He was ...

Whitby, Abbey of

(Formerly called Streoneshalh). A Benedictine monastery in the North Riding of Yorkshire, ...

Whitby, Synod of

The Christianizing of Britain begun by St. Augustine in A.D. 597 was carried on with varying ...

White Fathers

(MISSIONARIES OF OUR LADY OF AFRICA OF ALGERIA). This society, known under the name of ...

White, Andrew

Missionary, b. at London, 1579; d. at or near London, 27 Dec., 1656 (O.S.). He entered St. ...

White, Charles Ignatius

Editor, historian, born at Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. 1 February, 1807; died at Washington, ...

White, Edward

Grandfather of Stephen Mallory White , born in County Limerick, Ireland, in the latter part of ...

White, Eustace, Venerable

Martyr, born at Louth, Lincolnshire, in 1560; suffered at the London Tyburn, 10 December, 1591. ...

White, Richard, Venerable

( Vere GWYN). Martyr, born at Llanilloes, Montgomeryshire, about 1537; executed at Wrexham, ...

White, Robert

English composer, b. about 1530; d. Nov., 1574; was educated by his father, and graduated Mus. ...

White, Stephen

Antiquarian and polyhistor; b. at Clonmel, Ireland, in 1574; d. in Galway, 1646. He belonged to a ...

White, Stephen Mallory

American statesman; born at San Francisco , California, 19 January, 1853; died at Los Angeles ...

White, Thomas

( Alias BLACKLOW, BLACLOE, ALBIUS, ANGLUS). Born in Essex, 1593; died in London, 6 July, ...

Whithorn Priory

Located in Wigtownshire, Scotland, founded about the middle of the twelfth century, in the reign ...

Whiting, Blessed Richard

Last Abbot of Glastonbury and martyr, parentage and date of birth unknown, executed 15 Nov., ...

Whitsunday

A feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the ...

Whitty, Ellen

In religion Mary Vincent, born at Pouldarrig near Oylgate, a village seven miles form the town of ...

Whitty, Robert

Born at Pouldarrig near Oylgate, 7 January, 1817; died 1 September, 1895. In 1830 he entered ...

Whitty, Rose

Born at Dublin, Ireland, 24 November, 1831; died 4 May, 1911. Of her two sisters one became a ...

× Close

Wi 121

Wibald

Abbot of Stavelot ( Stablo ), Malmedy, and Corvey, b. near Stavelot in Belgium in 1098; d. ...

Wichita Indians

A confederacy of Caddoan stock, formerly dwelling between the Arkansas River, Kansas, and the ...

Wichita, Diocese of

(WICHITENSIS). Erected in 1887, from the Diocese of Leavenworth . The territory of the new ...

Wichmans, Francis

In religion AUGUSTINE, born at Antwerp, 1596; died 1661. Having finished his classical studies, ...

Widmer, Joseph

Catholic theologian, born at Hohenraim, Lucerne, Switzerland, 15 Aug., 1779; died at ...

Widow

I. Canonical prescriptions concerning widows in the Old Testament refer mainly to the question ...

Widukind

Saxon leader, and one of the heads of the Westphalian nobility. He was the moving spirit in the ...

Widukind of Corvey

Historian who lived in the tenth century in the Benedictine Abbey of Corvey, Germany. He was a ...

Wiener-Neustadt, Diocese of

(NEOSTADTIENSIS). A suppressed see in Lower Austria. Upon the request of Frederick III it was ...

Wiest, Stephan

Member of the Order of Cistercians, b. at Teisbach in Lower Bavaria, 7 March, 1748; d. at ...

Wigand, Saints

( Also rendered VENANTIUS). Three saints of this name are mentioned in the Roman ...

Wigbert, Saint

Companion of St. Boniface, born in England about 675; died at Hersfeld about 746. Positive ...

Wigbod

(WICBODUS, WIGBOLD, WIGBALD). Theological writer of the eighth century. Of his works there is ...

Wigley, George J.

Died in Rome, 20 January, 1866. By profession he was an architect, but subsequently devoted ...

Wilberforce, Henry William

Born at Clapham, 22 September, 1807; died at Stroud, Gloucestershire, 23 April, 1873. He was third ...

Wilberforce, Robert Isaac

Born at Clapham, 19 December, 1802; died at Albano, near Rome, 3 Feb. 1857. He was the second son ...

Wilcannia, Diocese of

(WILCANIENSIS). Located in New South Wales, one of the six suffragan sees of Sydney; consists ...

Wilcox, Robert, Venerable

English martyr, born at Chester, 1558; suffered at Canterbury, 1 October, 1588. He arrived at ...

Wild, Johann

Scriptural commentator and preacher, better known by his Latin name FERUS, b. in Swabia, 1497; d. ...

Wilfrid, Saint

Bishop of York, son of a Northumbrian thegn, born in 634; died at Oundle in Northamptonshire, ...

Wilgefortis

A fabulous female saint known also as UNCUMBER, KUMMERNIS, KOMINA, COMERA, CUMERANA, HULFE, ...

Wilhelm of Herle

Painter, born at Herle in Dutch Limburg at an unknown date in the fourteenth century; time and ...

Wilhelm V

Son of Duke Albrecht V. Born at Munich, 29 September, 1548; died at Schlessheim, 7 February, ...

Wilhering, Cistercian Abbey of

(HILARIA). Situated on the right bank of the Danube, in the Diocese of Linz, Austria. Ulric ...

Will

(Latin voluntas, Greek boúlesis, "willing" German Wille, French volonté ). ...

Will and Testament of Clerics

Roman law allowed clerics to dispose of their property by will or otherwise. Bishops, however, ...

Will, Free

RELATION OF THE QUESTION TO DIFFERENT BRANCHES OF PHILOSOPHY HISTORY Free Will in Ancient ...

Willaert, Adrian

Composer and founder of the Venetian school, b. at Bruges, or, according to other authorities, ...

Willehad, Saint

Bishop at Bremen, born in Northumberland before 745; died at Blecazze (Blexen) on the Weser, 8 ...

Willems, Pierre

Philologist, born at Maastricht, 6 January, 1840; died at Louvain, 23 February, 1898. Following ...

William

Born in Brittany, died at Marmoutiers, 23 May, 1124. For a time he was Archdeacon of Nantes, ...

William

Abbot of Saint-Bénigne at Dijon, celebrated Cluniac reformer, b. on the Island of ...

William Carter, Venerable

English martyr, born in London, 1548; suffered for treason at Tyburn, 11 January, 1584. Son of ...

William Exmew, Blessed

Carthusian monk and martyr ; suffered at Tyburn, 19 June, 1535. He studied at Christ's ...

William Filby, Blessed

Blessed William Filby Born in Oxfordshire between 1557 and 1560; suffered at Tyburn, 30 May, ...

William Hart, Blessed

Born at Wells, 1558; suffered at York, 15 March, 1583. Elected Trappes Scholar at Lincoln ...

William Lacy, Blessed

Born at "Hanton", Yorkshire (probably Houghton or Tosside, West Riding); suffered at York, 22 ...

William of Auvergne

Bishop of Paris, medieval philosopher and theologian. Born at Aurillac in Auvergne towards ...

William of Auxerre

A thirteenth-century theologian and professor at the University of Paris . William's name ...

William of Champeaux

A twelfth-century Scholastic, philosopher, and theologian, b. at Champeaux, near Melun, in the ...

William of Conches

A twelfth-century Scholastic philosopher and theologian, b. about the year 1100. After having ...

William of Digulleville

(DEGULLEVILLE). A French poet of the fourteenth century. Nothing is known of his life, except ...

William of Ebelholt, Saint

(Also called WILLIAM OF PARIS and WILLIAM OF THE PARACLETE.) Died on Easter Sunday, 1203, and ...

William of Gellone, Saint

Born 755; died 28 May, c. 812; was the second count of Toulouse, having attained that dignity in ...

William of Jumièges

(Surnamed CALCULUS.) Benedictine historian of the eleventh century. Practically nothing seems ...

William of Maleval, Saint

(or ST. WILLIAM THE GREAT). Died 10 February, 1157; beatified in 1202. His life, written ...

William of Malmesbury

Born 30 November, about 1090; died about 1143. He was educated at Malmesbury, where he became a ...

William of Moerbeke

Scholar, Orientalist, philosopher, and one of the most distinguished men of letters of the ...

William of Nangis

(GUILHELMUS). A medieval chronicler, who takes his name from the City of Nancy, France. ...

William of Newburgh

Historian, b. at Bridlington, Yorkshire, 1136; d. at Newburgh, Yorkshire, 1198, where he went as ...

William of Norwich, Saint

Born 1132; died 22 March, 1144. On Holy Saturday, 25 March, 1144, a boy's corpse showing signs of ...

William of Ockham

Fourteenth-century Scholastic philosopher and controversial writer, born at or near the village ...

William of Paris, Saint

Abbot of Eskill in Denmark, born 1105; died 1202. He was born of a noble French family, and ...

William of Perth, Saint

(Or ST. WILLIAM OF ROCHESTER). Martyr, born at Perth ; died about 1201. Practically all that ...

William of Poitiers

Norman historian, born of a noted family, at Préaux near Pont Audemer, Normandy, about 1020. ...

William of Ramsey

Flourished about 1219. Nothing is known of his life except that he was a monk of Crowland Abbey ...

William of Sens

A twelfth-century French architect, supposed to have been born at Sens. He is referred to in ...

William of Shoreham

( Or de Schorham.) An English religious writer of the Anglo-Norman period, born at ...

William of St-Amour

A thirteenth century theologian and controversialist, born in Burgundy in the first decades of ...

William of St-Thierry

Theologian and mystic, and so called from the monastery of which he was abbot, b. at ...

William of Turbeville

(TURBE, TURBO, or DE TURBEVILLE). Bishop of Norwich (1146-74), b. about 1095; d. at Norwich ...

William of Tyre

Archbishop of Tyre and historian, born probably in Palestine, of a European family which had ...

William of Vercelli

(Or WILLIAM OF MONTE VERGINE.) The founder of the Hermits of Monte Vergine, or Williamites, ...

William of Ware

(William de Warre, Guard, Guaro, Varro or Varron.) Born at Ware in Herts; the date of his ...

William of Wayneflete

Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England, b. towards the end of the fourteenth century; ...

William of Wykeham

Bishop of Winchester, Chancellor of England and founder of Winchester College ; b. between ...

William Perault

(PERAULD, PERALDUS, PERALTUS). Writer and preacher, b. at Perault, France ; d. at Lyons ; ...

William the Clerk (of Normandy)

French poet of the thirteenth century. Nothing is known of his life except that he was a clerk of ...

William the Conqueror

King of England and Duke of Normandy. William was the natural son of Robert, Duke of ...

William the Walloon

Date of birth unknown; d. (probably) 22 Dec., 1089. He became Abbot of St. Arnoul at Metz in ...

William, Blessed

Abbot of Hirschau, monastic reformer, born in Bavaria ; died at Hirschau, 5 July 1091. He ...

William, Saint

(WILLIAM FITZHERBERT, also called WILLIAM OF THWAYT). Archbishop of York. Tradition ...

William, Saint

Bishop of St-Brieuc, born in the parish of St. Alban, Brittany, between 1178 and 1184; died ...

Williamites

There were two minor religious orders or congregations of this name: (1) a Benedictine ...

Willibald and Winnebald, Saints

(WUNIBALD, WYNNEBALD). Members of the Order of St. Benedict, brothers, natives probably of ...

Willibrord, Saint

Bishop of Utrecht, Apostle of the Frisians, and son of St. Hilgis, born in Northumbria, 658; ...

Willigis, Saint

Archbishop of Mainz, d. 23 Feb., 1011. Feast, 23 February or 18 April. Though of humble birth ...

Williram

(WALTRAM, WILTRAM). Scriptural scholar, b. in Franconia (near Worms), Germany ; d. in 1085 at ...

Wilmers, Wilhelm

Professor of philosophy and theology, b. at Boke in Westphalia, 30 January, 1817; d. at ...

Wilmington, Diocese of

(WILMINGTONIENSIS). Erected 3 March, 1868. It includes what is known as the Delmarvia ...

Wilton Abbey

A Benedictine convent in Wiltshire, England, three miles from Salisbury. A first foundation was ...

Wilton, Richard

Died December 21, 1239. He was a medieval scholar of whom little is known except that he was an ...

Wimborne Minster

( Also WIMBURN or WINBURN). Located in Dorsetshire, England. Between the years 705-23 a ...

Wimmer, Boniface

Archabbot, b. at Thalmassing, Bavaria, 14 January, 1809; d. at St. Vincent Archabbey, Beatty, ...

Wimpfeling, Jakob

Humanist and theologian, b. at Schlettstadt, Alsace, 25 July 1450; d. there, 17 Nov., 1528. He ...

Wimpina, Konrad

(WIMINAE, WIMINESIS). Theologian, b. at Buchen in Baden, about 1465; d. at Amorbach in Lower ...

Winchester, Ancient See of

(WINTONIA, WINTONIENSIS). This diocese came into existence in 635 when the great ...

Winckelmann, Johann Joachim

Archaeologist and historian of ancient art, born at Stendal near Magdeburg, in 1717; assassinated ...

Windesheim

An Augustinian monastery situated about four miles south of Zwolle on the Issel, in the Kingdom ...

Winding Sheet of Christ, Feast of the Holy

In 1206 one of the (supposed) Winding Sheets used at the burial of Christ was brought to ...

Windischmann, Friedrich Heinrich Hugo

Orientalist and exegete, b. at Aschaffenburg, 13 December, 1811; d. at Munich, 23 August, ...

Windischmann, Karl Joseph Hieronymus

Philosopher, b. at Mainz, 25 August, 1775; d. at Bonn, 23 April, 1839. He attended the gymnasium ...

Window, Rose

A circular window, with mullions and traceries generally radiating from the centre, and filled ...

Windows in Church Architecture

From the beginning Christian churches, in contrast to the ancient temples, were intended to be ...

Windsor

A town of great antiquity, on the Thames, in Berkshire, England ; quaintly rendered Ventus ...

Windthorst, Ludwig

Born near Osnabrück, 17 January, 1812; died 14 March, 1891. He came from a family of ...

Wine, Altar

Wine is one of the two elements absolutely necessary for the sacrifice of the Eucharist. For valid ...

Winefride, Saint

Born at Holywell, Wales, about 600; died at Gwytherin, Wales, 3 Nov., 660. Her father was ...

Wingham, Thomas

Born in London, 5 January, 1846; died there, 24 March, 1893. He studied music at Wylde's London ...

Winnebago Indians

A tribe of Siouan stock closely related in speech to the Iowa, Missouri, and Oto, and more ...

Winnebald and Willibald, Saints

(WUNIBALD, WYNNEBALD). Members of the Order of St. Benedict, brothers, natives probably of ...

Winnoc, Saint

Abbot or Prior or Wormhoult, died 716 or 717. Three lives of this saint are extant: the best of ...

Winona, Diocese of

(WINONENSIS). Established in 1889, suffragan of St. Paul, comprises the following counties in ...

Winslow, Jakob Benignus

(WINSLOW). Physician and anatomist, b. at Odense, Denmark, 27 April, 1669; d. in Paris, 3 ...

Winwallus, Saint

Abbot of Landevennec; d. 3 March, probably at the beginning of the sixth century, though the ...

Winzet, Ninian

Benedictine abbot and controversial writer, b. at Renfrew, Scotland, 1518; d. at Ratisbon, 21 ...

Wipo

(WIPPO). Apparently a native of Burgundy, lived in the first half of the eleventh century. He ...

Wireker, Nigel

Satirist, lived about 1190. He describes himself as old in the "Speculum Stultorum", which was ...

Wirt, Wigand

Theologian, born at Frankfort about 1460; died at Steyer, 30 June, 1519. He entered the ...

Wisconsin

Known as the "Badger State", admitted to the Union on 29 May, 1848, the seventeenth state ...

Wisdom, Book of

One of the deutero-canonical writings of the Old Testament, placed in the Vulgate between the ...

Wisdom, Daughters of

(LES FILLES DE LA SAGESSE). Founded at Poitiers by Blessed Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort ...

Wise Men (Magi)

(Plural of Latin magus ; Greek magoi ). The "wise men from the East" who came to adore ...

Wiseman, Nicholas Patrick

Cardinal, first Archbishop of Westminster ; b. at Seville, 2 Aug., 1802; d. in London, 15 ...

Witchcraft

It is not easy to draw a clear distinction between magic and witchcraft. Both are concerned with ...

Witness

One who is present, bears testimony, furnishes evidence or proof. Witnesses are employed in ...

Witt, Francis Xavier

Reformer of church music, founder of the St. CeciliaSociety for German-speaking countries, ...

Wittenberg

The city is in Prussian Saxony and was founded by Albert the Bear (d. 1170). He had conquered ...

Wittman, George Michael

Bishop-elect of Ratisbon, b. near Pleistein, Oberpfalz, Bavaria, 22 (23?) Jan., 1760; d. at ...

Wittman, Patrizius

Catholic journalist, b. at Ellwanger, Würtemberg, 4 January, 1818; d. at Munich, 3 ...

Witzel, Georg

(WICELIUS). Theologian, b. at Vacha, Province of Hesse, 1501; d. at Mainz, 16 Feb., 1573. He ...

× Close

Wl 1

Wladislaw, Diocese of

(Polish WLOCLAWEK; Latin VLADISLAVIENSIS ET POMERANLAE). The historical origin of this ...

× Close

Wo 23

Wolff, George Dering

Editor, b. at Martinsburg, West Virginia , 25 Aug., 1822; d. at Norristown, Pennsylvania, 29 ...

Wolfgang, Saint

Bishop of Ratisbon (972-994), born about 934; died at the village of Pupping in upper Austria, ...

Wolfram von Eschenbach

Generally regarded as the greatest of Middle-High-German epic poets, date of birth unknown; d. ...

Wolgemut, Michael

Painter and engraver, b. at Nuremberg, 1434; d. there, 1519. He was the most prominent artist of ...

Wolowski, Louis-François-Michel-Reymond

Born at Warsaw, 31 Aug., 1810; d. at Gisors, Eure, 15 Aug., 1876. His father, a member of the ...

Wolsey, Thomas

Cardinal, Archbishop of York, b. at Ipswitch, the usually accepted date, 1471, being probably ...

Wolstan, Saint

Benedictine, and Bishop of Worcester, b. at Long Itchington, Warwickshire, England, about 1008; ...

Woman

Of late years the position of woman in human society has given rise to a discussion which, as part ...

Wood, Thomas

Priest and confessor, b. about 1499; d. in Wisbech Castle before 1588. After being prebendary ...

Wood-Carving

In general, the production from wood of objects of trade or art by means of sharp instruments, as ...

Woodcock, Venerable John

English Franciscan martyr, b. at Leyland, Lancashire, 1603; suffered at Lancaster, 7 August, ...

Woodhead, Abraham

Born at Almonbury, Yorkshire, about March, 1609; died at Hoxton, Middlesex, 4 May, 1678. This ...

Woodhouse, Blessed Thomas

Martyr who suffered at Tyburn 19 June, 1573, being disembowelled alive. Ordained in Mary's ...

Woods, Julian Edmund Tenison

Priest and scientist, b. at Southwark, London, 15 Nov., 1832; d. at Sydney, New South Wales, 7 ...

Worcester, Ancient Diocese of

(WIGORNIENSIS.) Located in England, created in 680 when, at the Synod of Hatfield under ...

Words (in Canon Law)

To give the right value to words is a very important factor in the proper interpretation of ...

World, Antiquity of the

Various attempts have been made to establish the age of the world. Two groups of scientists have ...

Wormwood

( Hebrew la'anah .) Wormwood, known for its repulsive bitterness ( Jeremiah 9:15 ; 23:15 ; ...

Worship, Christian

NOTION AND CHARACTERISTICS The word worship (Saxon weorthscipe , "honour"; from worth , ...

Worsley, Edward

Born in Lancashire, England, 1605; died at Antwerp, 2 Sept., 1676. He is said to have been ...

Worthington, Thomas, D.D.

Third President of Douai College , b. 1549 at Blainscough Hall, near Wigan, Lancashire; d. at ...

Wounds, The Five Sacred

Devotion The revival of religious life and the zealous activity of St. Bernard and St. ...

Wouters, G. Henry

Historian, b. at Oostham, Belgian Limburg, 3 May, 1802; d. 5 January, 1872. In 1829 he became ...

× Close

Wr 2

Wright, Venerable Peter

Martyr, b. at Slipton, Northamptonshire, 1603; suffered at Tyburn, 19 May, 1651. After spending ...

Wright, William

Born at York, 1562; died 18 Jan., 1639. Though he came late (23) to his studies, he then made ...

× Close

Wu 2

Wulfen, Franz Xaver Freiherr von

Botanist, b. at Belgrade, 5 November, 1728; d. at Klagenfurt, 17 March, 1805. He was the son of ...

Wulfram, Saint

(VULFRAMNUS.) Bishop of Sens, missionary in Frisi, born at Milly near Fontainebleau, probably ...

× Close

Wy 5

Wyart, Théophile-Louis-Henri

(In religion DOM SEBASTIAN). Abbot of Cîteaux and Abbot-General of the Order of ...

Wyche, Saint Richard de

Bishop and confessor, b. about 1197 at Droitwich, Worcestershire, from which his surname is ...

Wyclif, John

(WYCLIFFE, or WICLIF, etc.). Writer and "reformer", b. probably at Hipswell near Richmond, ...

Wyntoun, Andrew of

Scottish chronicler, born (as we know from the internal evidence of his writings) in the reign ...

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2016 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2016 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.