Lebuinus (Lebwin), St.
LEBUINUS (LEBWIN), ST.
Benedictine, Anglo-Saxon missionary to Germany;d. Deventer, c. 780. Lebuin (us) or Lebwin is the Latin form of the Old English Liafwin, "dear friend." A monk of the Abbey of ripon, where he was ordained, Lebuinus was one of the many monks to follow St. boniface and his companions to Europe to carry on the work of conversion. After their martyrdom, according to his earliest biographer, Lebuinus was divinely inspired to preach to the Franks and saxons near the river Ysel, and thus to continue the work of St. willibrord of utrecht. Sometime after 754 he sought out St. gregory of utrecht, who directed him to the territory of the Frisians bordering on Westphalia, sending one of Willibrord's disciples, Marchelm (Marculf?), with him. Lebuinus was gladly received into the household of the widow Abarhilda, who helped him build a chapel across the river from Deventer. Later he built a church in Deventer itself.
In his attempt to convert the Frisians and Saxons Lebuinus underwent many persecutions. His church was burned by the Westphalians and their allies, and his Frisian converts scattered. With the help of friends he rebuilt the church and continued his preaching. Among his friends and acquaintances were many chieftains, particularly Folcbert of the Village of Sudberg, who with his son Helco protected Lebuinus. At that time the Saxon chieftains met once a year at Marklo on the Weser with their freedmen and serfs to confirm their laws and to hold court. Against the advice of Folcbert, who feared that he would anger the pagan assembly, Lebuinus appeared at one such meeting robed in full canonical vestments and carrying a cross in one hand and a book of the Gospels under his arm. Announcing himself as a messenger of God, he informed the assembly that if they would accept God's commands, He would confer benefits upon them and preserve them in their liberty. If not, He would send a king to vanquish them, despoiling them of lands and possessions and leading them into slavery. Although the elders in the group tried to deter them, the immediate reaction of the younger Saxons was to wrench stakes from the fence to cast at Lebuinus. In the midst of the melee Lebuinus disappeared. All then agreed that they had been unjust and decided that if they listened to messengers from the Normans, Slavs, and Frisians, in justice they should listen to a messenger from God. After that meeting, the Saxons allowed Lebuinus to travel unharmed wherever he wished to preach throughout their territory.
After his death Lebuinus was buried in his own church in Deventer. Shortly afterward the Saxons, after searching vainly for his body, burned the church and laid the village waste. Albricus, successor to Gregory at Utrecht, sent St. ludger to restore the place and rebuild the church. According to report, Lebuinus appeared to Ludger in a dream and told him where his body lay. His body and the Gospels discovered with it, written probably in his own hand, were still in Deventer in a church bearing his name in 882 when it was again destroyed, this time by the Normans. The relics of St. Livinus (whose feast also is on November 12) are probably those of Lebuinus.
Feast: Nov. 12 (primarily in the Netherlands).
Bibliography: Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne (Paris 1878–90) 132:877–894, by hucbald of st. amand, c. 900. Analecta Bollandiana 34–35 (1915–16) 306–330; 39 (1921) 306–330; 70 (1952) 285–305. w. bÖhne, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 6:870. a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum, (Metten 1933–38) 3:286–289, 297–298. Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores 30.2:789–795, an early Life of St. Lebuinus on which Hucbald of St. Amand's version is based. c. h. talbot, ed. and tr., Anglo-Saxon Missionaries in Germany (New York 1954) 229–234, tr. of the Life in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores above. s. baring-gould, The Lives of the Saints, 16 v. (new ed. Edinburgh 1914) 13:306–307. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 4:324.
[m. e. collins]