Kilian of Würzburg, St.

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Bishop and martyr; b. Ireland (according to strong local tradition, at Mullagh, County Cavan), c. 640; d. Würzburg, Germany, July 8, 689. According to the older and more trustworthy passio Kilian (or Chilianus) was already a bishop when he left Ireland with 11 companions and reached the residence of the pagan Thuringian duke, Gozbert, at Würzburg. Having decided to evangelize this region, he reputedly traveled to Rome for papal approval in the autumn of 686. The account of this journey and of his meeting with Pope conon is certainly unhistorical. He converted many in Franconia and Thuringia, including Duke Gozbert, whom he persuaded to separate from Geilana, his brother's widow. In revenge Geilana had Kilian murdered along with two of his fellow missionaries, the priest Coloman (Kolonat) and the deacon Totnan. Their relics were solemnly transferred by burchard, first bishop of Würzburg, to the new cathedral on July 8, 752, and are now enshrined in the Neumünster, erected over the spot where, according to tradition, the martyrdom took place. Much controversy has centered on the dating and reliability of the Passio Prima and Secunda that deal with the saint's life, but A. Bigelmair dates the Passio Prima to 752 and accepts it as historical, though with an accretion of legend.

Feast: July 8.

Bibliography: Sources. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum (Berlin 1826) 5:711728. Acta Sanctorum, July, 2:599619. j. mabillon, Acta sanctorum ordinis S. Benedicti, 9 v. (Paris 16681701) 2:951953. Literature. n. moore, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900) 4:363364. f. emmerich, Der heilige Kilian, Regionarbischof und Märtyrer, historisch-kritisch dargestellt (Würzburg 1896). a. bigelmair, "Die Gründung des Bistums Würzburg," Würzburger Diözesangeschichtsblätter, 2 (1934) 118; "Die Passio des heiligen Kilian und seiner Gefährten," Herbipolis jubilans: 1200 Jahre Bistum Würzburg (Würzburg 1952) 125. j. dienemann, Der Kult des heiligen Kilian im 8. und 9. Jahrhundert (Würzburg 1955). a. gwynn, "New Light on St. Kilian," The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 88 (1957) 116. k. firsching, Die deutschen Bearbeitungen der Kilianslegende unter besonderer Berücksichtigung deutscher Legendarhandschriften des Mittelalters (Würzburg 1973). w. dettelbacher, Die Kilianimesse zu Würzburg (Würzburg 1977), cult. l. k. walter, St. Kilian: Schrifttumsverzeichnis zu Martyrium und Kult der Frankenapostel und zur Gründung des Bistums Würzburg (Würzburg 1989). f.l. ganz, Dich loben, dir danken: 1300 Jahre Mission und Martyrium der Frankenapostel Kilian, Kolonat und Totnan: das Buch der Diözese Würzburg zum Jubiläumsjahr (Würzburg 1990).

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