Bavo of Ghent

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Saint Bavo
Geertgen Sint-Bavo.jpg
Saint Bavo with falcon and sword, by Geertgen tot Sint Jans, late 15th century
Born 622
Hesbaye, Brabant
Died 653
Venerated in Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast October 1
Attributes Greaves, other military or aristocratic garb, falcon, sword
Patronage Ghent; Haarlem; Lauwe

Saint Bavo of Ghent (also known as Bavon, Allowin, Bavonius,[1] and Baaf) (622–659) is a Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox saint.


Bavo was born near Liège, Belgium, to a Frankish noble family that gave him the name Allowin.[2] His father was Pippin of Landen, the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia.

A wild, young aristocrat of Brabant, he contracted a beneficial marriage, and had a daughter through it. He was a soldier,[1] who led an undisciplined and disorderly life. Shortly after the death of his wife, Bavo decided to reform upon hearing a sermon preached by Saint Amand. Bavo was struck after the sermon at the emptiness of material objects and donated his wealth to the poor after he converted to Christianity at Amand's convent.[1] Bavo traveled with Amand for some time in his missionary work through France and Flanders. On one occasion, Bavo met a man whom he had sold years before. Wishing to atone for this earlier conduct, Bavo had the man lead him by chain to the town jail.

He built an abbey on his grounds and became a monk. He distributed his belongings to the poor and lived as a recluse, first in a hollow tree, later in a cell in the forest near the Abbey. He died at St. Bavo's Abbey in Ghent, in today's Belgium.


Bavo is the patron saint of Ghent and Lauwe, Belgium and Haarlem, the Netherlands. He is most often shown in Christian art as a knight with a sword and falcon. The most popular scene is the moment of his conversion, which has many stories attached to it. Because he is so often shown with a falcon, he came to be considered the patron saint of falconry. In Ghent, in medieval times, taxes were paid on October 1, and for this reason Bavo is often shown holding a purse or money bag.

According to Rodulfus Glaber, the city of Bamberg is named after him, with Bamberg meaning 'Mount of Bavo'.

His feast day in the Orthodox Church is October 1.


Several churches are dedicated to him, including:

His picture is also part of the Coat of Arms of the Antwerp suburb Wilrijk.

Rembrandt painted a Saint Bavo, dated between 1662 and 1665.[5]



  • Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. 3rd edition. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN 0-14-051312-4.

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