Benedictine prioress (Wivina); b. Flanders; d. Dec. 17, 1170. At the age of 15 she had already determined to forsake the world. However, she was renowned for her beauty and sought in marriage by a young nobleman named Richard, who found favor in the eyes of her parents. When rejected by her, he became ill to the point of death. Whereupon Wiwina prayed and fasted for him until he was miraculously restored to health. At the age of 23, she went to live a hermit's life in a wood near Brussels. Here Count Godfrey of Brabant established the convent of Le Grand Bigard for her in 1120. Acting as prioress she put it under the direction of the abbot of affligem and labored diligently to maintain the true religious life there. After her death she was glorified by many miracles. Her relics are now in Notre Dame du Sablon at Brussels. Her cultus was confirmed by Urban VII in 1625; a Mass and Office was approved in 1903.
Feast: Dec. 19 (formerly Dec. 17); Dec. 16 (Benedictines); Sept. 25 (translation).
Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum (Paris 1863—) 17:590. a. zimmermann, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. m. buchberger (Freiburg 1930–38) 10:952–953. Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores (Berlin 1826—) 25:525. j. gielemans, Anecdota ex codicibus hagiographicis (Brussels 1895) 57–79. l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés (Mâcon 1935–39) 1:379. u. chevalier, Répertoire des sources historiques du moyen-âge. Biobibliographie (Paris 1905–07) 2:4712. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 4:580–581. a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum: Die Heiligen und Seligen des Benediktinerorderns und seiner Zweige (Metten 1933–38) 3:439–442.
[f. d. lazenby]