Ana Cloughly, OSB, writes…
Saint Walburga is the patron of the monastery in Eichstadt, Germany. St. Walburga Monastery in Eichstadt is the monastery from which Benet Hill Monastery traces our lineage.
Many of us are proud of our families and many of us are able to name one or two people we consider saints. And Benet Hill looks humbly to our roots in connection with Saint Walburga as we prepare to celebrate her feast day of February 25.
Saint Walburga of Devonshire England wins the prize when it comes to having a “saintly” family. Born in 710 ce to Saint Richard and the niece of St. Boniface, Apostle of Germany. Saint Walburga also has two saintly brothers, St. Willibald and St. Winibald.
Saintliness may have come naturally to Walburga but it did not come without God’s loving grace and her generous response. When Walburga was eleven, she was given by her family to the Monastery of Wimborne where she lived and studied for twenty-six years. Frustrated by the inability for the Church to create any degree of authority, St Boniface called upon his nieces obvious gifts to establish women’s monasteries in Germany. Saint Lioba and Saint Walburga sailed with several other nuns to Germany in 748. They were the first women to be called upon to be missionaries in any place where Christianity had not yet taken root.
It is said that there was a terrible storm during their trip from England to Germany and the sailors attribute their survival to the fervent prayers of Saint Walburga. That is why she is now the patron of sailors.
Saint Walburga established the monastery of Heidenheim where she was abbess. The women’s monastery was located near the men’s monastery where Walburga’s brother, St Windibald served as abbot. After his death, Saint Walburga ruled over both monasteries. Virtue and prudence added to her other natural gifts and gained her great respect by all whom she served with abbatial authority in both monasteries.
Among her other accomplishment, Saint Walburga is acknowledged to be the first female author writing in Latin, English and German.
Saint Walburga died in 777 and her remain now rest at the monastery in Eichstadt that bears her name. Her remains exude a precious oil or dew that is said to have healing properties. She is considered one of the Elaephori, or oil-yielding saints.
On February 25th we will be celebrating her gifts of self-giving in the service of God and all God’s people from her time to ours. May we draw strength from her dedication to her vocation, her love for God and her continued patronage in our lives.