Above: The Western Region of the Holy Roman Empire in 1000 C.E.
Image in the Public Domain
SAINT WILLIGIS (DIED 1011)
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Mainz
SAINT BERNWARD (DIED 1022)
Roman Catholic Bishop of Hildesheim
His feast transferred from November 20
St. Willigis, as a priest, became chaplain to Holy Roman Emperor Otto II (reigned 973-983), who appointed him Archbishop of Mainz in 975. Archbishop Willigis crowned the three-year-old Otto III as Emperor in 983 and, along with regents, helped to govern the realm during Otto III’s minority. And, after Otto III died in 1002, St. Willigis helped name Henry II (reigned 1002-1024) as Emperor. The saint was more than a statesman; he also sent missionaries to Sweden and Denmark, built a cathedral at Mainz, founded many churches, and named many capable bishops.
St. Bernward became an orphan then grew up in the household of his uncle, Volkmar, Bishop of Utrecht. Ordained a priest at Mainz, St. Bernward became imperial chaplain and tutor to the seven-year-old Emperor Otto III in 987 and Bishop of Hildesheim six years later. As Bishop he built St. Michael’s Church and monastery at Hildesheim and earned a reputation as a capable leader. He was also involved in a jurisdictional dispute with St. Willigis over the convent and church at Gandershiem. Rome settled the matter in St. Bernward’s favor, and St. Willigis accepted the decision. St. Bernward joined the Benedictine order in his later years. He died on November 20, 1022.
I chose to pair these two saints on the same day because their lives intersected. We who call ourselves Christians need not agree all the time; indeed, we will not. But we can be gracious and agreeable. Celebrating Sts. Willigis and Bernard together reinforces this point.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
DECEMBER 8, 2011 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF MARTIN RINCKART, ARCHDEACON OF EILENBURG
THE FEAST OF RICHARD BAXTER, ANGLICAN THEOLOGIAN
you raised up faithful bishops of your church,
including your servants Saint Willigis and Saint Bernward.
May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,
so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.
Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35
1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21
John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47
–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60
Revised on December 6, 2016