Viborada (d. 925)

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Viborada (d. 925)

Frankish recluse and saint. Died in 925 in France; never married; no children.

Viborada lived as a recluse and was made a saint a century after her death. She was born into a petty noble family of France, and lived in monastic austerity even as a girl. When her brother joined the monastery at St. Gall to study for the priesthood, Viborada also began working there in the scriptorium, primarily designing and executing handsome leather and metal book covers. On her brother's ordination, the two left St. Gall and opened their house as a hospital which received people of any means. After a pilgrimage to Rome, Viborada had a cell built for her at a nearby church. Her piety and mysticism gained her many followers who frequently sent her gifts and provided donations for her support. As an ascetic, Viborada kept only the barest supplies she needed to maintain life, and gave the rest to the poor.

After a few years of receiving visitors and consulting people of all ranks on spiritual matters, Viborada wanted to shut herself into total isolation. Thus about 891, she moved to another cell at a more remote church. She no longer received visitors and spoke to almost no one, but made an important exception for a young woman named Rachilda , who was suffering from an undiagnosed disease and could not be cured. Viborada requested that Rachilda be brought to her, and insisted that she would be healed if she remained as a recluse with her. The woman's parents agreed, and Rachilda remained with Viborada in her tiny rooms until Viborada's death over 30 years later. Rachilda was indeed cured by the treatment and prayers of the holy woman, a phenomenon which served to increase Viborada's already widespread renown.

About 925, Hungarian troops at war with the Franks invaded that country. The local bishop offered Viborada refuge at a nearby fortress, but the aged holy woman refused to leave her cell or to let Rachilda leave. The enemy troops burned the church and, it is reported, burned the roof off of the recluses' cell. Unable to find any valuables in their looting, they killed Viborada, who would not run. Rachilda survived her spiritual mentor for over 20 years. In 1047, Pope Clement II canonized Viborada.


Dunbar, Agnes. Dictionary of Saintly Women, vol. I. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1904.

Laura York , M.A. in History, University of California, Riverside, California

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