February 25: St Walburga OSB (in some places)


Today is the anniversary of the death of St Walburga or Walpurga (710 - c777).  The anniversary of her canonisation, 1 May is also celebrated in some places as Walpurgis Night.

She is remembered as one of a group of great English missionary monks and nuns responsible for the evangelization of  Germany, as well as the first known female author of England and Germany.

The daughter of St. Richard, one of the under-kings of the West Saxons, and of Winna, sister of St. Boniface, Apostle of Germany, and had two brothers, St. Willibald and St. Winibald. St. Richard, when starting with his two sons on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, entrusted Walburga, then eleven years old, to the abbess of Wimborne. In the claustral school and as a member of the community, she spent twenty-six years preparing for the great work she was to accomplish in Germany. The monastery was famous for holiness and austere discipline. There was a high standard at Wimborne, and the child was trained in solid learning, and in accomplishments suitable to her rank.

Thanks to this education she was later able to write St. Winibald's Life and an account in Latin of St. Willibald's travels in Palestine. She is thus looked upon by many as the first female author of England and Germany.

St Walburga went to Germany as a result of an appeal for help on the part of St Boniface. After living some time under the rule of St. Lioba at Bischofsheim, she was appointed abbess of Heidenheim, and was thus placed near her favourite brother, St. Winibald, who governed an abbey there. After his death she ruled over the monks' monastery as well as her own. Her virtue, sweetness, and prudence, added to the gifts of grace and nature with which she was endowed, as well as the many miracles she wrought, endeared her to all.

Her relics were translated to Eichstadt in 870, and it was then that the body was first discovered to be immersed in a precious oil or dew, which has continued to flow from the sacred remains.

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