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Saint of the Day: St. William of Eskill

Reformer of the Church in Denmark

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Abbot (ca. 1125-1203)

His life

+ William was born in Saint-Germain-Crépy-en-Valois, France, and became a canon of the church of St. Genevieve in Paris.

+ In 1148, the canons of St. Genevieve’s were given a more austere rule of life by the Benedict abbot Sugar of St. Denis and William’s reputation for holiness and austerity began to spread.

+ In 1170, he was invited to the Danish diocese of Roskilde to help reform the monasteries there and he helped revive the monastic observance of a small community of canons in Eskill, making this the home base for a series of reforms that would help re-shape the church in Denmark.

+ In 1175, William moved the monastic community to Zeeland. As a leader of the Danish church, he became involved in various political conflicts and was imprisoned for a time for his opposition to the attempts of King Philip-Augustus of France to divorce his wife, a Danish princess.

+ Saint William of Eskill died on April 6, 1203, and was canonized in 1224. He remained a popular saint in Denmark until the time of the Protestant Reformation. His surviving writings—including treatises and letters—help provide important information about the life of the Church in Denmark in the late twelfth century.

For reflection

This man will receive blessings and compassion from the Lord God, his Savior, for this is the reward of those who seek the Lord.”—Magnificat Antiphon for Evening Prayer I, Common for Religious in the Liturgy of the Hours

Prayer

Grant us, O Lord, that amid the uncertainties of this world we may cling with all our heart to the things of heaven, for through the Abbot blessed William you have given us a model of evangelical perfection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For an Abbot)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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