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Willigis: Wikis


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Saint Willigis (c. 940 in Schöningen - February 23, 1011) was an Archbishop of Mainz, and a statesman as well as a churchman.

The able and intelligent Willigis received a good education, and was recommended by Volkold, Bishop of Meissen, to the service of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor. From 971 Willigis served as chancellor to the Emperor. Emperor Otto II in 975 made him Archbishop of Mainz and Archchancellor of the Empire. Soon he started to build the great cathedral of Mainz.

Willigis demanded solid learning in his clergy too. He was known as a good and fluent speaker. In March 975 he received the pallium from Pope Benedict VII and as Primate of Germany, at Christmas 983, he crowned Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor, at Aachen, and in June 1002 crowned Henry II at Mainz.

After the death of Otto II in 983 and his wife Theophanu in 991, Willigis became guardian of the minor Otto III until he reached his majority in 994, thus making Willigis, together with Otto's grandmother Adelaide of Italy, de facto regent of the empire between 991 and 994.

Willigis presided at the Synod of Frankfurt in 1007, at which thirty-five bishops signed the Bull of Pope John XVIII for the erection of the Diocese of Bamberg. He was on friendly terms with Rome, though the Papacy stood at its nadir. In 996 he was in the retinue of Otto III on his journey to Italy, and was present at the consecration of Pope Gregory V and at the synod convened a few days later. In this synod Willigis strongly urged the return of Saint Adalbert to Prague. Willigis had probably consecrated the first bishop of Prague, Thietmar (January 976), at Brumath in Alsace, and had consecrated Adalbert. The latter, unable to bear the conflicts within his see, left his diocese, to which, after much correspondence between the Holy See and Willigis, he was forced to return.

In 997 Gregory V sent the decrees of a synod at Pavia to Willigis, "his vicar", for publication.

These friendly relations were somewhat disturbed by the dispute of Willigis with the Bishop of Hildesheim about jurisdiction in the house of secular canonesses at Gandersheim Abbey. The abbey was originally situated at Brunshausen in the Diocese of Hildesheim, but was transferred to Gandersheim within the territorial limits of Mainz. Both bishops claimed jurisdiction, but then Pope Silvester II declared in favour of Hildesheim, against Willigis' initial resistance.

In his diocese he laboured by building bridges, constructing roads, and fostering commerce. In Mainz he built a cathedral, which he consecrated on 29 August 1009, dedicating it in honour of Saint Martin, but on the same day, disastrously, it was destroyed by fire. He greatly helped the restoration of the old collegiate church of St. Victor and built that of St. Stephan. He also built a church at Brunnen, in Nassau. He showed great solicitude for the religious, and substantially aided the monasteries of St. Ferrutius/Bleidenstadt, St. Disibod, and Jechaburg in Thuringia. Due to the fact that the cathedral still was not rebuilt, he was buried after his death in 1011 in the Church of St. Stephan.

His protegé was the scholarly and just Burchard, bishop of Worms.

Roman Catholics celebrate his feast on February 23, the day of his death.

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Preceded by
Archbishop of Mainz
Succeeded by


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