Saint Ludger of Utrecht

Saint Ludger of Utrecht

Saint Ludger was a Benedictine bishop, founder of Munster, Germany, and counselor of Charlemagne. He was born in Zuilen, Holland, and was trained by St. Gregory at Utrecht. In 753 Ludger met the great Apostle of Germany, Boniface, which, together with the subsequent martyrdom of the saint, made a deep impression on him. In 767 Gregory, who did not wish to receive episcopal consecration himself, sent Alubert, who had come from England to assist him in his missionary work, to York to be consecrated bishop. Ludger accompanied him to be ordained into the diaconate and to study under Alcuin, but after a year he returned to Utrecht.

Ludger was ordained at Cologne on 7 July 777 and the missions of Ostergau were committed to his charge, of which missions Dokkum, the place of the martyrdom of Boniface, was made the centre. Every autumn however, he came back to Utrecht to teach at the cathedral school. He worked in this way for about seven years, until Widukind in 784 persuaded the Frisians to drive out the missionaries, burn the churches, and return to the pagan gods.

Ludger escaped with his disciples, and in 785, visited Pope Adrian-I in Rome. He went to Monte Cassino afterwards, where he lived according to the Rule of Saint Benedict, but did not bind himself by vows. In 787, Ludger was appointed missionary to five districts east of the river Lauwers, around the estuaries of the Hunze, the Fivel, and the Ems, which were still occupied almost entirely by pagans. He began his work armed with characteristic energy and faith in God, and had a significant advantage in that he knew the language and habits of the people, and put this knowledge to good use in achieving their conversion.

He worked in many places: the island of Bant, long since sunk beneath the sea, is mentioned as the scene of his apostolic work. He visited Heligoland, where Willibrord had preached, where he destroyed the remains of paganism and built a Christian church. The well, formerly sacred to the pagan gods, he re-dedicated as his baptismal font. On his return he met the blind bard Bernlef, last of the Frisian skalds, cured his blindness, and made him a devout Christian.

Alcuin recommended Ludger to Charlemagne, who had Hildebold, the Archbishop of Cologne, consecrate Ludger as bishop of Munster on 30 March 805. Ludger's principal concern was to have a good and efficient clergy. To a great extent he educated his students personally, and generally took some of them on his missionary tours. He also founded the monastery of Helmstad, afterwards called Ludger-Clooster, or Ludger's Cloister, in the duchy of Brunswick.

Ludger died peacefully on Passion Sunday in 809 at the age of sixty-six.

Other Saints of the Day
1. Saint Margaret Clitherow
2. Saint Castulus
3. Saint Garbhan
4. Saint Mochelloc
5. Saint Peter

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