Hewald (Ewald, Herwaldus) the Black and Hewald the White

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Bede (c. 673—735) monk, historian, and theologian

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

St Norbert (c. 1080—1134)


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Anglo-Saxon priests and missionaries among the Old Saxons,

were martyred on 3 October c.695. According to Bede they shared the same name and the same zeal, but were called ‘Black’ and ‘White’ because of the colour of their hair. They had for long lived in exile in Ireland, before joining the missionary enterprise of Willibrord in Frisia. Both men were devout and religious, but Hewald the Black was more learned in Scripture.

When they arrived among the Old Saxons they said Mass each day on a portable altar and devoted themselves to the Divine Office. The people realized that they belonged to a different religion; fearing that they would convert their chief, they seized them and put them to death: Hewald the White immediately by the sword, and Hewald the Black by long torture. Their bodies were thrown into the Rhine, but were later recovered. Pepin had them enshrined in the church of St Cunibert at Cologne, where they still remain. Some of their relics were given to Norbert: churches at Xanten and Gorze also claim to possess their relics. The traditional place of their martyrdom is Aplerbeke on the Embscher, one of the Rhine's tributaries, near Dortmund. The Calendar of St Willibrord records them under 4 October, but the Fulda Martyrology, English Calendars, and Bede place their feast on 3 October.

Bede, H.E., v. 10; AA.SS. Oct. II (1768), 180–207.

Subjects: Christianity.

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