Walburga of Heidenheim, St.
WALBURGA OF HEIDENHEIM, ST.
Benedictine abbess, sister of SS. willibald of eichstÄtt and winnebald; b. c. 710; d. Heidenheim, Germany, Feb. 25, 779. It is not certain whether Walburga's (Waldburg, Walpurgis, Vaubourg) father's name was Richard, but he was definitely not royal. After education at wimborne in Dorsetshire, she went with St. lioba as a missionary to Tauberbischofsheim, Germany, at the request of St. boniface. About 751 she entered the double monastery in Heidenheim, which had been founded by her brothers according to Anglo-Saxon models. After Winnebald's death, she became abbess and, like Lioba, favored the education of German women. Between 870 and 879 her remains were brought to the convent in eichstÄtt, later called St. Walpurg. Unlike the cult of other women saints in early German history, veneration of Walburga as a patroness against hunger and plague exceeded by far the radius of her activities. Her relics were sent to Monheim (Bavaria) and to Furness, which became the center of her cult in Flanders and northern France. Already in the ninth century "Walburga's oil" had become a sacramental (as evidenced in Monumenta Germaniae Historica Scriptores rerum Germanicarum 15:541). The oil, a deposit on the stone slab near her relics, still flows from October 12 to February 25 each year and is collected into small—often artistic—bottles and sent to many places, to be used in various forms of illness.
Feast: Feb. 25; May 1 (translation), Sept. 24 (translation at Zutphen), Oct. 12 (translation at Eichstatt).
Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum Feb. 3:516–577. Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquae et mediae aetatis, 2 v. (Brussels 1898–1901; suppl. 1911) 2:8765–74. f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 1434. a. mercati and a. pelzer, Dizionario ecclesiastico, 3 v. (Turin 1954–58) 3:1257. a. zimmermann, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. m. buchberger, 10 v. (Freiburg 1930–38) 10:726–727. a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum: Die Heiligen und Seligen des Benediktinerorderns und seiner Zweige, 4 v. (Metten 1933–38) 1:251–252. r. bauerreiss, Kirchengeschichte Bayerns (2d ed. St. Ottilien 1958–) v.1. t. schieffer, Winfrid-Bonifatius und die christliche Grundlegung Europas (Freiburg 1954) 166, 277; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 24 v. (New York 1929–), with continuing rev.(1965) 23:313. j. pihan, Sainte Walburge (Vesly 1979). h. holzbauer, Mittelalterliche Heiligenverehrung; Heilige Walpurgis (Kevelaer 1972).
[h. v. redlich]