Saint Killian, Martyr
I’m happy to feature Saint Kilian (640-689), as this week’s Saint of the Week, as I have been a parishioner at Saint Kilian Catholic Church in Mission Viejo, CA since 1986.  Saint Kilian was born in County Cavan Ireland, in about the year 640.  He became a missionary and preached the Gospel throughout Ireland.  In 686, Saint Kilian made a pilgrimage to Rome where he was commissioned a “Missionary Bishop” by Pope Conon and dispatched to the Würzburg area of Germany to evangelize the peoples of southern Germany, known today as Bavaria, along with fellow missionaries, Saint Colman and Saint Totnan.

Saint Kilian converted the Duke of Würzburg, Duke Gozbert and many of his clan to the Christian faith. Then, following the example of Saint John the Baptist, Saint Kilian sternly admonished the Duke that the marriage to his brother’s wife was unlawful and needed to be dissolved.  Like John the Baptist, that didn’t end so well for our heroes.  When the Duke was away campaigning, as Dukes were wont to do in those days, Geilana, the aggrieved wife, arranged for the execution of Saint Kilian and his companions and ordered their bodies, vestments and writings buried in unmarked graves to conceal the crime.  They died on July 8, 689.  Legend holds that the murderer, compelled by a guilty conscience, eventually confessed to the crime and that Geilana herself died stark-raving mad.  

And there, the story of Saint Kilian and his companions seemed to have ended in obscurity, as the Christian community they established returned to their pagan ways after their deaths.  Years later, Saint Boniface arrived and only found verbal accounts of the missionary activity of Saint Kilian and his companions.  Eventually a Cathedral was erected at the location they were martyred and relics recovered from their unmarked graves, including a preserved copy of the New Testament belonging to Saint Kilian, were housed there.  

Saint Kilian is remembered today in Germany, as the patron Saint of Würzburg, and in an annual festival lasting two weeks, called the Kiliani Fair.  He is also revered in his native Ireland at the Saint Kilian Heritage Center, and in parishes like my own that bear his name throughout the world.  

Feast Day:  July 8th

Patron Saint of:  Diocese of Würzburg, Germany, Bavaria, Germany, Archdiocese of Paderborn, Germany, against gout and rheumatism, County Kerry, Ireland.

God, you called missionaries from Ireland with Saint Killian to take the message of the gospel to Franconia and Bavaria;Grant that the church may draw strength from their examples, and never lack zeal to proclaim your love when the going is difficult: through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Saint Kilian, pray for us!

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