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|Missionary, Pilgrim and Bishop of Bremen|
8 November 789|
Blexen upon Weser, Germany
Roman Catholic Church|
Eastern Orthodox Church
|Major shrine||Echternach, Luxembourg|
|Attributes||bishop overturning idols|
Willehad was born in Northumbria and probably received his education at York under Ecgbert. A friend of Alcuin he was ordained after his education and, about the year 766, he went to Frisia, preaching at Dokkum and in Overijssel, to continue the missionary work of Boniface who had been martyred by the Frisians in 754. At an assembly in Paderborn in 777, Saxony was divided into missionary zones. The zone between the Weser and the Elbe, called Wigmodia, was given to Willehad.
From 780 he preached in the region of the lower Weser River on commission from Charlemagne. He barely escaped with his life when the Frisians wanted to kill him as well and he returned to the area around Utrecht. Once again he and his fellow missionaries barely escaped with their lives when the local pagans wanted to kill them for destroying some temples. Finally, in 780, Charlemagne sent him to evangelize the Saxons. He preached to them for two years but, in 782, the Saxons under Widukind, rebelled against Charlemagne and Willehad was forced to flee to Frisia. He took the opportunity to travel to Rome where he reported to Pope Adrian I on his work.
After Charlemagne's conquest of the Saxons, Willehad preached in the region about the lower Elbe and the lower Weser. In 787 Willehad was consecrated bishop, and that part of Saxony and Friesland about the mouth of the Weser assigned him for his diocese. He chose as his see the city of Bremen, which is mentioned for the first time in documents of 782, and built there a cathedral. Praised for its beauty by Anschar, it was dedicated in 789.
Willehad died in Blexen upon Weser, today a part of Nordenham. He is buried in the city's cathedral, which he consecrated shortly before his death on 8 November 789. Anschar compiled a life of Willehad, and the preface which he wrote was considered a masterpiece for that age. In 860, a sick girl from Wege (Weyhe) travelled to his grave. There, she was reportedly cured by a miracle. This was the first time the small village was mentioned in any historical documents.
- Mershman, Francis. "St. Willehad." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 19 May 2013
- Butler, Alban. the Lives of the Saints, Vol. XI, 1866
- McKitterick 1983, p. 61.
- Lins, Joseph. "Bremen." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 19 May 2013
- Campbell, Thomas. "St. Anschar." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 19 May 2013
- McKitterick, Rosamond (1983). The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751–987. London: Longman.
- Willehad 1 at Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England
- Saint of the Day, November 8: Willehad of Bremen at SaintPatrickDC.org
- Willehad at Patron Saints Index
- Bishopric of Bremen
WillehadBorn: 745 in Northumbria Died: 8 November 789 in Blexen upon Weser
|Catholic Church titles|
|New diocese|| Bishop of Bremen
Title next held byWillerich