William of Donjeon

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Saint William of Donjeon
Bishop and Confessor
Born c. (1155-10-19)October 19, 1155[1]
Nevers, France
Died January 10, 1209(1209-01-10) (aged 53)
Bourges, France
Honored in Roman Catholic Church
Canonized May 17, 1218 by Pope Honorius III
Major shrine Bourges Cathedral
Feast January 10
Patronage University of Paris

Saint William of Donjeon (c. 1155 – January 10, 1209), also referred to as St William of Bourges and St William the Confessor, was Archbishop of Bourges from 1200 until 1209. As William Berruyer (French: Guillaume Berruyer), he was a descendant of the family of the ancient Counts of Nevers. He was educated under the care of Peter, Archdeacon of Soissons, his maternal uncle. At an early age he learned to eschew the vanities of the world and to give himself with ardor to exercises of piety and to the acquisition of knowledge. Upon entering the ecclesiastical state he became a canon of Soissons and of Paris. Later he resolved to abandon the world and enter the Order of Grandmont. He lived in this order for a period of time and practiced great austerities. Owing to dissensions between priests and lay brothers, he decided to go over to the recently founded but more austere Order of Cîteaux (the Cistercians).

He took the habit at Pontigny, and after some time became abbot, first of Fontaine-Jean near Sens, and later of Chaalis near Senlis.

He had a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and loved to spend much of his time at the foot of the altar. In the year 1200, the clergy of the Church of Bourges elected him to succeed Henry de Sully, their archbishop. The news quite overwhelmed him with grief. Only a stern command from the general of the Cistercians, the Abbot of Citeaux could move him to accept that dignity. In his new office of archbishop, he continued his austerities, to the point of constantly wearing a hair shirt and never eating meat.

He was instrumental in the on-going construction of the Gothic Cathedral of St. Stephen, begun under his predecessor, Henry de Sully, in 1195. In the early part of his ecclesiastical reign, the lower half of the cathedral was completed and by December 1208, the choir was partially finished, at which time he was able to celebrate the Christmas liturgy.

He was preparing for a mission among the Albigensians when he died kneeling at prayer in 1209. In his last will and testament he requested to be buried with his hair shirt and in ashes. His feast day is commemorated on January 10.

Witnesses claimed that he performed eighteen miracles during his saintly life and that he performed another eighteen miracles after his death.

Saint William was canonized on May 17, 1218, by Pope Honorius III. He is a patron saint of the University of Paris

References[edit]

  1. ^ St William's birthdate is surmised as on or near the date of his baptism, as most infants were baptised within days of their birth, as was the case during the entire length of the Middle Ages and up to the present era.
  • "Lives of the Saints: For Every Day of the Year" edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.C.Cist., Ph.D., New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., (1955)

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