Ijov’s Blog

January 1, 2011

Healing oil of Saint Walburga (in Bavaria, Germany)

Filed under: Catholic church,Miracles — ijov @ 10:15 pm

From the rock around her tomb medicinal oil flowed, to which miraculous cures were attributed. St. Walburga’s oil continues to flow every year from about October 12 to February 25, two of her feast days. It seeps from her relics through a thick slab of stone where it is collected and distributed by the nuns of the Abtei St. Walburg.

Who was this great woman?

Walburga (Walpurgis, Vaubourg) (d. 779), abbess of Heidenheim. The sister of Winnibald and Willibald, she was a notable example of the Anglo-Saxon monks and nuns who helped Boniface in his missionary work in Germany. She was trained under Tatta at the double monastery of Wimborne (Dorset) from which she was sent to Lioba, abbess of Bischofsheim. After two years there, now skilled in medicine, she became abbess of the double monastery of Heidenheim, established by Winnibald as the only known example of its kind in Germany: on his death she assumed full control. Owing to the lack of any contemporary biography practically nothing is known about her rule.

In 776 the relics of Winnibald were translated to Eichstatt; in 870 hers were laid to rest beside them. From the rock around her tomb medicinal oil flowed, to which miraculous cures were attributed. In 893 her relics were inspected and diffused, some to the Rhineland, others to Flanders, others to France. This spread her cult to these countries. One important centre was Attigny, where Charles the Simple established a shrine in his palace chapel and named her patron of his kingdom. Her feast of 1 May inappropriately coincided with a pagan feast for the beginning of summer and the revels of witches, whence the customs of Walpurgisnacht, which have no intrinsic connection with the saint. It is, however, not impossible that the protection of crops ascribed to her and represented by the three ears of corn in her images may have been transferred to her from Mother Earth (Walborg). Her more usual attributes are a crown and sceptre with a phial of oil. This still flows from her tomb. A fine collection of 16th–20th-century phials for its distribution survives at Eichstatt. Walburga has been depicted by artists from the 11th till the 19th centuries: specially notable is a 15th century tapestry cycle of her Life. A modern abbess of Eichstatt was sufficiently important to be chosen to negotiate the surrender of the town to the Americans at the end of World War II. Her main feast is 25 February, translation feasts are 1 May, 12 October (Eichstatt), and 24 September (Zutphen).

See also: ABBEY OF SAINT WALBURGA (distributes her Holy Oil): http://www.walburga.org/arch_walburga-new.htm


1 Comment »

  1. Dear Sir – where can I obtain some of St Walburga’s holy oil? Our church of St Walburga’s (UK) is celebrating its 50th Golden Jubilee (and almost 150 years since its original foundation in 1863). Your reference to the Abbey simply returns me to your websiter here. Help! Yours – David Jackson (Parish Committee for 2012)

    Comment by David Jackson — February 4, 2012 @ 4:40 pm | Reply

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