Two saints with this name are venerated on the same day, July 10. Because the events of both their lives have been embellished with legendary details, it is quite difficult to distinguish between them, much less to separate fact from fiction in their biographies. It seems quite clear, however, that one St. Amalberga (seventh century, variants: Amalburga, Amelberga, Amalia, Amelia) was the wife of Count Witger and mother of Gudula, Reinelde, and Bishop Emebert of Cambrai (d. c. 715). When her husband became a benedictine monk at the Abbey of Lobbes, she entered the convent at Maubeuge. She died at Maubeuge, and her body was later transferred to Lobbes.
The second Amalberga (eighth century) was a nun of the community of Münsterbilzen in Belgium. Because of her beauty she was approached by King pepin iii who wished her to marry his son Charles (charlemagne). Reportedly she once suffered a broken arm in resisting Charles's attentions, and perhaps for that reason her name has been invoked for the cure of bruises. She died at the convent of Tamise in Flanders, but her relics were solemnly translated to the church of St. Pierre in Ghent in 1073.
A third Amalberga lived in the tenth century. She was the abbess of Susteren, where she educated two of the daughters of the king of Lorraine. Her feast is celebrated on November 21.
Bibliography: a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 3:64–65. a. poncelet, "Les Biographes de Ste. Amelberge," Analecta Bollandiana 31 (1912) 401–409. Acta Sanctorum July 3:61–68, 70–107. a. mercati and a. pelzer, Dizionario ecclesiastico (Turin 1954–58) 1:108, 109. u. berliÈre, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 2:924–925. l. van der essen, Études critique et littéraire sur les vitae des saints mérovingiens de l'ancienne Belgique (Louvain 1907) 177–182, 301–302. a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum (Metten 1933–38) 2:427–431.
[j. f. fahey]