Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Walburge, Virgin, Abbess in England

[Saint Walburga]Article

She was daughter to the holy king Saint Richard, and sister to Saints Willibald and Winebald; was born in the kingdom of the West Saxons in England, and educated, in the monastery of Winburn in Dorsetshire, where she took the religious veil. After having passed twenty-seven years in this holy nunnery, she was sent by the abbess Tetta, under the conduct of Saint Lioba, with several others, into Germany, at the request of her cousin Saint Boniface. Her first settlement in that country was under Saint Lioba, in the monastery of Bischofsheim, in the diocess of Mentz. Two years after she was appointed abbess of a nunnery founded by her two brothers, at Heidenheim in Suabia, (now subject to the duke of Wirtemburg,) where her brother, Saint Winebald, took upon him at the same time the government of an abbey of monks. This town is situated in the diocess of Aichstadt, in Franconia, upon the borders of Bavaria, of which Saint Willibald, our saint’s other brother, had been consecrated bishop by Saint Boniface. So eminent was the spirit of evangelical charity, meekness, and piety, which all the words and actions of Saint Walburge breathed, and so remarkable was the fruit which her zeal and example produced in others, that when Saint Winebald died, in 760, she was charged with a superintendency also over the abbey of monks till her death. Saint Willibald caused the remains of their brother Winebald to be removed to Aichstadt, sixteen years after his death; at which ceremony Saint Walburge assisted. Two years after she herself passed to eternal rest, on the 25th of February, in 779, having lived twenty-five years at Heidenheim. Her relics were translated, in the year 870, to Aichstadt, on the 21st of September, and the principal part still remains there in the church anciently called of the Holy Cross, but since that time of Saint Walburge. A considerable portion is venerated with singular devotion at Furnes, where, by the pious zeal of Baldwin, surnamed of Iron, it was received on the 25th of April, and enshrined on the 1st of May, on which day her chief festival is placed in the Belgic Martyrologies, imitated by Baronius in the Roman. From Furnes certain small parts have been distributed in several other towns in the Low Countries, especially at Antwerp, Brussels, Tiel, Arnhem, Groningue, and Zutphen; also Cologne, Wirtemberg, Ausberg, Christ Church at Canterbury, and other places, were enriched with particles of this treasure from Aichstadt. Saint Walburge is titular saint of many other great churches in Germany, Brabant, Flanders, and several provinces of France, especially in Poitou, Perche, Normandy, Burgundy, Lorraine, Alsace, etc. Her festival, on account of various translations of her relics, is marked on several days of the year, but the principal is kept in most places on the day of her death. A portion of her relics was preserved in a rich shrine in the repository of relics in the electoral palace of Hanover, as appears from the catalogue printed in folio at Hanover in 1713. See her life written by Wolfhard, a devout priest of Aichstadt, in the following century, about the year 890; again by Adelbold, nineteenth bishop of Utrecht, (of which diocess Heda calls her patroness;) thirdly, by an anonymous author; fourthly, by the poet Medibard; fifthly, by Philip, bishop of Aichstadt; sixthly, by an anonymous author, at the request of the nuns of Saint Walburge of Aichstadt. All these six lives are published by Henschenius.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Walburge, Virgin, Abbess in England”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 24 February 2013. Web. 25 October 2014. <>