Cunibert of Cologne

(c. 595—663)

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St Willibrord (658—739) missionary, archbishop of the Frisians, and abbot of Echternach

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bishop. Born of a wealthy family in the Mosel valley, he was educated at the court of Clotair II at Metz and became archdeacon of Trier and director of its school. In 623 he was consecrated bishop of Cologne. He left a memory of an influential Frankish bishop who worked closely with the emperors and other bishops and was a good administrator. Although the Lives are late and unsatisfying, they are underpinned by contemporary charters which record transactions like the gift of a royal villa and the recovery of a vineyard, both in 643. Dagobert certainly esteemed him highly, placing the education of his son Sigebert in his hands, and also wishing him to evangelize the Frisians from a base at Utrecht. In fact Cunibert did little about this and both Willibrord and Boniface were more important in this area. The latter in a letter to Pope Stephen II refuted the claims of Hildegar of Cologne to metropolitan rights over Utrecht. Cunibert, however, had been a notable founder of churches and of the monastery of Stavelot-Malmedy; he was present too at the synod of Clinchy (626) and the council of Reims (627–30). After an episcopate of forty years he died on 12 November 663 and was buried in the church of St Clement, now called St Cunibert's. The cures of fevers and toothache were among those recorded at his shrine. Stained-glass windows of the 13th century record his life there, especially the incident of a dove settling on his shoulder while he said Mass in the Cologne church of St Ursula. Feast: 12 November.

M. Coens, ‘Les Vies de S. Cunibert de Cologne’, Anal. Boll., xlvii (1929), 338–63 and ibid., lvi (1938), 370–82;Bibl. SS., iv. 404–7.

Subjects: Christianity.

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