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March 20

St Wulfram of Sens - March 20

Saint Wulfram of Sens
Archbishop, Missionary
(Around 640 – 703)

If I were to permit such a violation of our ancestral customs, this crowd, which you see surrounding us, would tear me to pieces. However, if your Christ, of Whose power you are constantly boasting, can save him, let him be yours and Christ’s.”

Saint Wulfram of Sens’s answer from King Radbod after his request to spare a Ovon’s life as human sacrifice

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Life

Wulfram was born around 640 in most likely, Milly-la-Forêt, France. His father, Wulbert, was an officer who had distinguished himself in the service of King Dagobert, a powerful King of the Franks. Wilfram devoted himself with great assiduity both to his studies and to works of piety.

As a young man, Wulfram was very devout and strove to live a holy life. He became a Benedictine priest and his intention was to live a monastic life. However, Wulfram was called to be a courtier of King Clotaire III, A king of the Franks, and his mother, Saint Bathildes.

Archbishop of Sens

After the death of Lambert, Archbishop of Sens, the king and the clergy and people of Sens united in calling on Wulfran to be his successor. In the year 682, Wulfram he was consecrated Archbishop of Sens. For two years, he carried out his duties with zeal and great piety. As Archbishop of Sens, Wulfram consoled the afflicted, gave alms to the poor, heard the confessions of the penitent, encouraged the good, and rebuked the wicked. His remaining time was spent in prayer, meditation, and the study of the Scriptures.

Resigned to be a Missionary

It was a tender compassion for the blindness of the idolaters of Friesland, and the example of the zealous English preachers in those parts, which moved Wulfram then to resign his bishopric. So, after only three years, Wulfram surrendered his see to Saint Amatus, whom he believed to be the rightful bishop. Following his resignation as archbishop, Wulfram gave away his lands and decided to dedicate his life to evangelization and missionary work.

Wulfram embarked on a mission with a group of monks to evangelize the Frisians in Friesland (Netherlands/Germany). This region was known to be a rough and pagan land, where human sacrifices and pagan rituals were still prevalent.

When they arrived there, they were allowed by King Radbod, though he was addicted to heathen practices, to preach Christianity. Far and wide did Wulfran and his missionaries carry the war against idols. At first the Frisians derided them; but when miracles proved the truth of their preaching, multitudes came to them to be baptized. Among them was the son of Radbold.

Miracles

It was the custom of the Frisians to offer human sacrifices to their gods on certain festivals. The victim was chosen by lot. Wulfran happened to be giving instruction in a remote part of the town when he saw the unfortunate victim – his name was Ovon – being dragged to the place of sacrifice. Wulfran begged his life of the king. But King Radbold’s reply was: “If I were to permit such a violation of our ancestral customs, this crowd, which you see surrounding us, would tear me to pieces. However, if your Christ, of Whose power you are constantly boasting, can save him, let him be yours and Christ’s.”

The sacrifice was carried out; but, in answer to the Saint’s prayers, the rope by which the victim was hanging broke, and the body fell from the gibbet and was restored to life. Ovon, who was thus miraculously saved, afterwards became a monk at Fontenelle. Many were the converts made by this miracle. However, King Radbold remained obstinate.

Six months later, two babes, also chosen by lot, were to be offered up to the god of the sea. Again, Wulfran besought the king to spare them, but in vain. The children were exposed where the rising waves would engulf them. Wulfram prayed the Almighty for help. It was not refused. The billows, as they advanced, rose like a wall round the victims, leaving a clear dry space where they were unharmed. Then, Wulfran dashed into the raging waters, and carried them back to their distracted mother, himself dryshod.

King Radbod witnessed this miracle. He was so moved by it, that at last he consented to be baptized. However, as he was about to enter the font, King Radbod asked Wulfran whether his ancestors too were in Heaven. When Wulfram could not assure him on this point, he said he preferred joining his forefathers to being with Christ and His low fishermen. So King Radbod immediately drew back from the font.

Later, when near death, King Radbod sent for Saint Willibrord, another prominent missionary, to baptize him. Unfortunately, King Radbod passed away before Saint Willibrord could arrive. So, after King Radbod died still as an unbeliever.

His Death

Meanwhile Wulfran, who during his missionary labours had frequently revisited the Abbey at Fontenelle, France. At that location, he retired there for good to prepare for his end. Wulfram died on March 20, 703 at Fontenelle, France of natural causes. His relics were initially held at Fontenelle. Then, in 1062, they were transferred to Abbeville, France and later to Rouen, France. A monk named Jonas of Fontenelle wrote the life of Saint Wulfram eleven years after his death, detailing his remarkable missionary endeavors and the miracles associated with his ministry.

Born:                   Around 640 in, most likely, Milly-la-Forêt, France

Died:                   March 20, 703 at Fontenelle, France

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:         March 20

Patron Saint:    Abbeville, France; Against Dangers of the Sea; Sens, France

Source:

Reflection

First, Saint Wulfram of Sens grew up in the lush court life under the Frankish King, Dagobert. Then, as if that were not enough, he went onto become Archbishop of Sens, France. Most people would have been happy in either of these two different roles. But, instead Wulfram received through prayer the call to preach the Gospel as a missionary to the dangerous Frisians. Even in hostile environments and his efforts met with resistance, Saint Wulfram of Sens’ unwavering dedication and the miracles attributed to him eventually softened many hearts and lead to the conversion of many, including King Radbod’s son.

How can you be a “missionary” today reaching out to those who have not yet heard the Good News? How can you be instruments of God’s love, today, bringing others closer to Him through your words and action?

Prayers

Saint Wulfram of Sens,

Faithful servant and missionary of Christ with unwavering dedication to spreading the Gospel, even in the face of great challenges,

Intercede for us before the throne of God, so that we may be granted the grace to serve Him with the same fervor and humility that marked your life.

You performed many miracles through the power of God, bringing hope and conversion to those you encountered.

Pray for us, that we too may experience the miraculous power of God’s grace in our lives.

Help us to be courageous witnesses to the Gospel, guide us in our efforts to live lives of holiness, dedicated to prayer, service, and love for our neighbors.

Saint Wulfram of Sens, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 20 March – Saint Wulfram of Sens (c 640-c 703)

Butler’s Lives Of The Saints Complete Edition – St Wulfram

Catholic Exchange – St. Wulfram

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Wulfram of Fontenelle – by Katherine I Rabenstein

CNewsLive – St Wulfram of Sens

New Advent – Mershman, F. (1912). St. Wulfram. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

RC Spirituality (Uncle Eddy) – St. Wulfram

Sanctoral – Saint Wulfran Archbishop of Sens (647-720)

Video Link

Saint Wulfram (or Wolfran), Archbishop – March 20th – YouTube (Saint of the Day)