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Willehad of Bremen

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Saint Willehad of Bremen
Bischof Willehad 1.jpg
Willehad of Bremen, from a woodcut of the Late Middle Ages
Missionary, Pilgrim, and Bishop of Bremen
Born c. 735, Northumbria, England
Died 8 November 789, Blexen upon Weser, Germany
Major shrine Echternach, Luxembourg
Feast 8 November
Attributes bishop overturning idols
Patronage Saxony

Saint Willehad of Bremen (also known as Willehadus or Willihad; (Northumbria, *around 745 – November 8 or November 9, 789*, in Blexen upon Weser, today a part of Nordenham) was a Christian missionary and the Bishop of Bremen from 787.

Life and work

Willehad was born in Northumbria and probably received his education at York.

A friend of Alcuin he was ordained after his education and, about the year 766, he went to Frisia, preaching at Dokkum and in Overijssel, to continue the missionary work of St. Boniface who had been martyred by the Frisians in 754. From 780 he preached in the region of the lower Weser River on commission from Charlemagne. He barely escaped with his life when the Frisians wanted to kill him as well and he returned to the area around Utrecht. Once again he and his fellow missionaries barely escaped with their lives when the local pagans wanted to kill them for destroying some temples. Finally, in 780, Charlemagne sent him to evangelize the Saxons. He preached to them for two years but, in 782, the Saxons under Widukind, rebelled against Charlemagne and Willehad was forced to flee to Frisia. He took the opportunity to travel to Rome where he reported to Pope Adrian I on his work. On his return trip he retired to the monastery of Echternach, in present day Luxembourg. He spent two years there reassembling his missionary team. After Charlemagne had once more ruthlessly subjected the Saxons and had Widukind baptized, Willehad returned to his Saxon mission between the Weser and the Elbe rivers. In 787, he was made the bishop of the Saxons with his see at the newly founded city of Bremen. He built numerous churches in his diocese, including the cathedral in Bremen.

He is buried in the city's cathedral, which he consecrated shortly before his death on November 8, 789.


In 860, a sick girl from Wege (Weyhe) travelled to his grave. There, she was apparently cured by a miracle. This was the first time, the small village was mentioned in any historical documents.

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Willehad of Bremen
Born: 745 in Northumbria Died: 8 November 789 in Blexen upon Weser
Religious titles
New title
New Creation
Bishop of Bremen
Title next held by

fy:Willehad la:Willehadusnds:Willehad ru:Виллехад Бременский

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