Celtic saint of the day 25th February

St. Walburga


Ausstattung der ehemaligen Seitenaltäre der Meßkircher St. Martinskirche, Standflügel: Heilige Walburga als Märtyrerin Eingescannt aus: Anna Moraht-Fromm und Hans Westhoff: Der Meister von Meßkirch – Forschungen zur südwestdeutschen Malerei des 16. Jahrhunderts, Ulm, 1997, S. 196 links Public Domain

Walburga is the daughter of St. Richard and Una his wife, and sister to SS. Willibald and Wunnibald, and she remained at the abbey at Wimbourne under the Abbess St. Tetta when her menfolk set off for the Holy Land. Later she joined her brothers in Germany, when her uncle, St. Boniface, sent to Wimborne asking for sisters to help with missionary work.

After a couple of years with St. Lioba at Bischofsheim she was appointed abbess of the convent of nuns founded by her brothers in Heidenheim, and when Winnibald died, his monastery for monks was added to hers to make a double community, which she ruled until her own death. She was held in highest honour among the people and is credited with miracles during her life time, including the extinguishing of a fire which threatened to destroy a settlement of wooden houses with thatched roofs. She is represented sometimes with the emblem of three ears of wheat with which she is said to have cured a girl with a ravenous appetite.

It is perhaps the miracles after her death for which she is most famous. In 779 she was first buried in Heidenheim, but in 870, her body was translated to lie with her brothers at Eichstadt. Soon after this the exuding of a fragrant liquid from her tomb was first observed, and from that time the Oil of St. Walburga has been much prized for its curative properties.

The Life of St. Walburga was written by Wolfhard at the end of the 9th century, and there is an interesting excerpt from Gritser’s chronicles of the Bishops of Eichstadt as a preface to one edition of it. It describes how one Barnard Adelmann, a Canon of Eichstadt, was sent with the histories of the Saints and relics to the King of England in 1492. These presents were received with great reverence at Canterbury, and among all the relics, that which the king chiefly admired and venerated was the Oil of St. Walpurgis.

St. Walburga was canonised on May 1st, the day of the great heathen festival of spring, and the gathering of the German witches made famous by Goethe. So the night of the witches has become Walpurgisnacht and she is honoured as the protectress against black magic. Her main feast, however, is February 25th.


Church of Saint Walpurga in Brugge. Brugge, West Flanders, Belgium.GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

Source: – Celtic and Old English saints