Lambert of Maastricht
|Saint Lambert of Maastricht|
The murder & martyrdom of Saint Lambert
|Bishop & Martyr|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion|
Saint Lambert (Latin: Landebertus/Lambertus; c. 636 – c. 700) was the bishop of Maastricht-Liège (Tongeren) from about 670 until his death. Lambert was from a noble family of Maastricht, possibly son of Robert II, Lord Chancellor of France, and a protégé of his uncle, Bishop Theodard of Maastricht. When Theodard was murdered soon after 669, the councillors of Childeric II made Lambert bishop of Maastricht. Lambert was related to Hugobert and Plectrude, Pepin of Herstal's lawful wife and thus an in-law of hereditary mayors of the palace who controlled the Merovingian kings of Austrasia. After Childeric was murdered in 675, the faction of Ebroin, majordomo of Neustria and the power behind that throne, expelled him from his see, in favor of their candidate, Faramundus. Lambert spent seven years in exile at the recently founded Abbey of Stavelot (674–681). With a change in the turbulent political fortunes of the time, Lambert was returned to his see. The Cathedral of Our Lady and St. Lambert in Liege was built in his honor.
In company with Willibrord, who had come from England in 691, Lambert preached the gospel to the pagans in the lower stretches of the Meuse, in the area to the north. Around 705, Lambert completed the Christianization of Liège and its surroundings. Christian conversion may still not have been quite universal, since Lambert was murdered in Liège and thereafter regarded as a martyr for his faith. To enshrine Lambert's relics, his successor, Hubertus, built a basilica near his residence which became the true nucleus of the city. Lambert had been the spiritual director of Hubertus.
Shortly after Lambert's (and Plectrude's) family had murdered Dodo, a domesticus of Pepin of Heristal and father of Pepin's mistress Alpaida, Dodo's relatives murdered Lambert on his estate, the Gallo-Roman villa that has become Liège. Lambert thus became a martyr for his defence of marital fidelity, denouncing Pepin's liaison with Alpaida, daughter of Dodo, who was to become the mother of Charles Martel (CE "Saint Lambert").
Although Lambert was buried at Maastricht, his successor as bishop, Hubertus, translated his relics to Liège, to which the see of Maastricht was eventually moved. The shrine became St. Lambert's Cathedral, destroyed in 1794. Its site is the modern Place Saint-Lambert. Lambert's tomb is now located in the present Liège Cathedral.
His feast day in the Roman Catholic Church calendar is 17 September. The Lambertusfest in Münster has long been a folk holiday, celebrated for two weeks culminating on the eve of 17 September. Children build "Lambertus pyramids" of branches, decorated with lanterns and lamps around which they dance and sing traditional songs (known as Lambertussingen or Käskenspiel).
- St. Lambert at www.newadvent.org. Accessed on 31 October 2010.
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