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Werner of Oberwesel, St.

WERNER OF OBERWESEL, ST.

Patron of winegrowers, martyr also known as Vernier or Verny; b. Womrath (Rhineland), c. 1273; d. 1287. The legend, based on testimony at hearings for his canonization in 1426, states that Werner, formerly a vineyard worker, was employed by a Jew at Oberwesel. After having received his Easter Communion, the boy was martyred; allegedly the Jews tied him to a pillar, head down, opened his arteries, and let him bleed to death. Persecution of the Jews set in, and only the intervention of Rudolf of Hapsburg ended it. Veneration of Werner sprang up quickly; a chapel over his grave in Bacharach, consecrated in 1293 (now a noteworthy Gothic ruin), was once an important place of pilgrimage. Under the name of St. Vernier he is venerated by the winegrowers of Auvergne, Burgundy, and Franche-Comté; his relics have been honored since 1548 in the collegiate church of St. Mary Magdalene in Besançon despite the lack of recognition from Rome. His cultus was suppressed by the Second Vatican Council and local dioceses.

Feast: April 18 or 19 (formerly).

Bibliography: t. vuy, Geschichte des Trechirgaues und von Oberwesel (Leipzig 1885) 155159. j. mohr, Die Heiligen der Diözese Trier (Trier 1892) 8890. p. kandels, "Der heilige Werner," Pastor Bonus 24 (1912) 393400.

[d. andreini]

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