Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Wulfran, Archbishop of Sens

Saint Wulfram of SensArticle

[And Apostolic Missionary in Friseland.] His father was an officer in the armies of King Dagobert, and the saint spent some years in the court of King Clotaire III and of his mother Saint Bathildes, but occupied his heart only on God, despising worldly greatness as empty and dangerous, and daily advancing in virtue in a place where virtue is often little known. His estate of Maurilly he bestowed on the abbey of Fontenelle, or Saint Vandrille, in Normandy. He was chosen and consecrated archbishop of Sens, in 682, which diocess he governed during two years and a half with great zeal and sanctity. A tender compassion for the blindness of the idolaters of Friseland, and the example of the English zealous preachers in those parts, moved him to resign his bishopric with proper advice, and after a retreat at Fontenelle, to enter Friseland in quality of a poor missionary priest. He baptized great multitudes, with a son of King Radbod, and drew the people from the barbarous custom of sacrificing men to idols. The lot herein decided, on great festivals, who should be the victim; and the person was instantly hanged or cut in pieces. The lot having fallen on one Ovon, Saint Wulfran earnestly begged his life of King Radbod; but the people ran tumultuously to the palace, and would not suffer what they called a sacrilege. After many words, they consented that if the God of Wulfran should save Ovon’s life, he should ever serve him, and be Wulfran’s slave. The saint betook himself to prayer, and the man, after hanging on the gibbet two hours, being left for dead, by the cord breaking fell to the ground; and being found alive was given to the saint, and became a monk and priest at Fontenelle. Wulfran also miraculously rescued two children from being drowned in the sea, in honour of the idols. Radbod, who had been an eye-witness to this last miracle, promised to become a Christian, and was instructed among the catechumens; but his criminal delays rendered him unworthy such a mercy. As he was going to step into the baptismal font, he asked where the great number of his ancestors and nobles were in the next world? The saint replied, that hell is the portion of all who die guilty of idolatry. At which the prince drew back, and refused to be baptized, saying, he would go with the greater number. This tyrant sent afterwards to Saint Willebrord to treat with him about his conversion; but before the arrival of the saint was found dead. Saint Wulfran retired to Fontenelle, that he might prepare himself for death, and died there on the 20th of April, in 720. His relics were removed to Abbeville, where he is honoured as patron. See his life written by Jonas, monk of Fontenelle, eleven years after his death, purged from spurious additions, by Mabillon. See also the history of the discovery of his relics at Saint Vandrille’s, accompanied with miracles, and the translation to Rouen in 1062, well written by an anonymous author who assisted at that ceremony.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Wulfran, Archbishop of Sens”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 19 March 2013. Web. 30 July 2014. <>