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Sts. Willibald and Winnebald

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(WUNIBALD, WYNNEBALD).

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. Willlbald 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.

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