Bishop and Martyr (640-689)
+ Kilian (or Cilian) was born to noble parents around the year 640 in Cloughballybeg, County Cavan, Ireland. He became a monk at the great monastic center on the island of Iona and received an exceptional education.
+ In 686, Kilian and eleven companions traveled to Rome and received a mandate from the Pope Conon to serve as missionaries in what is now Germany. Kilian and two the eleven companions—Saints Colmán, a priest, and Totnan, a deacon—settled in Würzburg, making the city a center of evangelization.
+ Kilian criticized a local duke (a Christian convert) for marrying his brother’s widow, Geilana, in violation of Sacred Scripture. Geilana—who had not converted to Christianity—heard of Kilian’s condemnations and sent soldiers to Würzburg to kill Kilian and his two companions on July 8, 689.
+ Saint Kilian and his companions were honored as saints immediately after their death and Saint Burchard, first bishop of Würzburg, built a church—later the cathedral—on the site of their martyrdom. Saint Kilian is honored as a patron saint of those suffering from rheumatism.
For prayer and reflection
“Bearing witness to Jesus is never about getting accolades from others, but about loving those who do not even know the Lord. Those who bear witness to Jesus go out to all, not just to their own acquaintances or their little group. Jesus is also saying to you: ‘Go, don’t miss a chance to bear me witness!’ My brother, my sister, the Lord expects from you a testimony that no one can give in your place.”—Pope Francis, Homily for World Mission Sunday 2019
On this day, we also remember Saints Priscilla and Aquila, the missionary companions of Saint Paul. A married couple celebrated for their commitment to the spread of the Gospel and their friendship of Saint Paul, these two early saints provided invaluable assistance in the growth of the Church in the first decades following Pentecost.
We humbly beseech the mercy of your majesty, almighty and merciful God, that, as you have poured the knowledge of your Only Begotten Son into the hearts of the peoples by the preaching of the blessed Martyrs Kilian and his companions, so, through their intercession, we may be made steadfast in the faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Martyrs—For Several Missionary Martyrs)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.