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July 8

St Killian - July 8

Saint Killian

Bishop, Martyr

“Apostle of Franconia”

(Around 640 – 689)

“Friends, what purpose brought you hither? You may execute the command of the duchess: we are ready to end our lives.

Saint Killian

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Life 

Kilian was born to noble parents around the year 640 in Cloughballybeg, near Mullagh in the south-east of what is now County Cavan in Ireland. He became a monk at the monastery of Hy (Hy being an early name for what was later known as Iona). Killian is thought to have become the abbot. He began his education in Rosscarbery (the School of Ross), County Cork, and completed it in Tuosist in County Kerry.

Missionary Bishop

Killian was appointed as Bishop and travelled throughout Ireland. With eleven companions, he became a missionary through Gaul to Würzburg, Germany whose people he found to be pagan and whom he resolved to convert. On a pilgrimage to Rome, Italy in 686, Killian received papal authority for his mission. Pope Conon ordained him as a missionary bishop. Then, Killian returned to Würzburg in 687 with Saint Colman and Saint Totnan. With them, Killian evangelized East Franconia and East Thuringia, areas in modern Bavaria, Germany. He converted Duke Gozbert and a large part of Gozbert’s subjects.

His Martyrdom

After Duke Gozbert converted, Killian explained that the duke’s marriage with Geilana, his brother’s widow, was unlawful in violation of sacred scripture. Killian secured the duke’s promise to leave her, which made an enemy of pagan Duchess Geilana. She plotted against Killian. Killian was beheaded on July 8, 689 along with Saint Colman and Saint Totnan. Their bodies were buried with the sacred vessels, the vestments and the holy writings at the crime scene. When the Duke returned to her, Duchess Geilana denied knowing the location of the missionaries. Geilana went mad, confessed his crime and died miserably. Geilana herself eventually died insane.


When Saint Boniface arrived in Thuringia, he found evidence of Saint Killian’s influence. The relics of the martyrs, after cures had brought fame to their burial place, were transferred to the Church of Our Lady in 743 by Saint Burchard, first Bishop of Würzburg. After Saint Burchard obtained Pope Zachary’s permission for their public veneration, they were solemnly transferred, probably on 8 July 752, to the newly finished Cathedral of the Saviour. Later they were buried in Saint Kilian’s vault in the new cathedral erected on the spot where tradition says they were martyred. His skull is still preserved, is bejewelled and is processed on his feast day. Killian’s copy of the New Testament was preserved in Würzburg Cathedral until 1803, and since then has been in the university library.

Kilian is usually portrayed wearing a bishop’s mitre and holding a sword, which was the instrument of his martyrdom (as in his statue at Würzburg).

Born:                   Around 640 near Mullagh, County Cavan, Ireland

Died:                   July 8, 689 in Wurzburg, Germany

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:          July 8

Patron Saint:    Against Rhuematism; Diocese of Wurzburg, Germany; Gout; Paderborn, Germany; Tuosist, County Kerry, Ireland (staging point for his mission to mainland Europe)



Saint Killian called out Duke Gozbert on his unlawful marriage to his wife, Duchess Geilana. Saint Killian must have feared the wrath and rage of this powerful and wicked woman. However, this fear did not stop Saint Killian from doing the right thing – even at the cost of his life. 

Are you silent when it comes to trying to preventing someone from doing something wrong? You are not silent when someone slanders your friend due to the love you have for your friend. If God is offended by any words or acts, how can you not show the same love and stick up for the God you love and who loves you so much that he sent his Son to die on the Cross for our sins?


St. Killian, you knew that the Gospel was the path to everlasting life. You also knew that you had to preach it, so others would come to know Jesus as well. You were willing to leave your homeland, and go to another country in order to bring the good news to those that had never heard it. In doing this, you put your life in jeopardy, but you were willing to do it for the sake of our Lord. May God fill us with the Holy Spirit to bring Jesus to those that are so in need of His love and mercy today. St. Killian may you intercede for us as we go out to reveal Jesus’ truth to those around us near and far. 

St Killian, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Have arthritis? Here’s a patron saint, and a prayer, for you

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 8 July – St Killian – Rev. Alban Butler Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. July 8 SS. Kilian, Bishop, Colman, Priest, and Totnan, Deacon, Martyrs

Catholic Ireland – Jul 8 – St Kilian of Kilmore (640-689) Martyr

Catholic Online – St. Kilian

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Killian

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Kilian, Colman, and Totnan by Katherine I Rabenstein

CatholicSaints.Info – Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Kilian and His Companions, Martyrs

Independent Catholic News – St Kilian

New Advent – Lauchert, F. (1910). St. Kilian. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Newman Ministry – St Kilian

Wikipedia – Saint Kilian

Video Link