Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Feast of St. Willibrord, Bishop and Confessor

Today is the celebration of St. Willibrord, a British-born, Irish-trained, Roman-commissioned Benedictine who evangelized the Netherlands (or in the words of the Roman Martyrology, "Friesland and Denmark").
Charles [Martel] brought many nations under the power of the Franks, and among these were the Frisians, whose lands were added to his dominions after the defeat of Radbod. At that time St. Willibrord was officially appointed to preach to the Frisian people, and his episcopal see was fixed at the fortress of Utrecht. Being given greater scope for the preaching of the Gospel, he now attempted to bring into the Church by baptism the people that had recently been won by the sword. He allowed no error or past ignorance to pass unnoticed and lost no time in shedding upon them the light of the Gospel, so that soon among that people the statement of the prophet was fulfilled: " In that place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God." [Hos 1:10]
- from St. Alcuin's Life of St. Willibrord.
As the first bishop of Utrecht, he is not only the parton saint of Holland but also the patron of the Old Catholics, including those of the episcopoi vagante movement in this country. For them, I offer this humble prayer:

St. Willibrord, lead the people who call upon thee, through thine intercessions, into the fullness of truth and into unity with thy Church, that with thee and all the saints they may give glory unto thine all-merciful Lord, Who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen.

A prayer of the feast:
O God, Who didst vouchsafe to send thy blessed Saint Willibrord to preach Thy glory to the Gentiles : we humbly pray Thee that, by his intercession, we may both see and know the things which we ought to do, and by Thy mercy be enabled to perform the same. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who livest and reignest with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

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