Friday, April 18, 2014

Saint of the Month: Saint Wicterp of Augsburg!

St. Wicterp of Augsburg

AKA: Wigbert, Wiho, Wicho, Wicbpert

Feast Day: April 18.

Really Existed? Yes.
Timeframe: The Eighth Century. The saint lists have him dying in 749, but this probably needs to be looked at.
Place: The area that would eventually be called "Germany."

Credentials: Recognized by tradition.
Martyrdom: None.

Patron Saint of: No known tradition of patronage.
Symbolism: No known artistic tradition or image.

After Saint Valentine’s Day and Saint Patrick’s Day, there’s no point in pretending we aren’t on a somewhat subdued level today, on Saint Wicterp of Augsburg’s Day. Saint Wicterp doesn’t ever attract a lot of attention, as far as I’ve noticed. I wonder whether having his feast day fall on Good Friday brings him any extra attention, or just overshadows him completely. Some things are hard to measure.

Your standard catalog of saints picks up Wicterp’s fragmentary biography when he is abbot of Ellwangen, which according to a major open-source online encyclopedia was an important German monastery from its founding in 764 through the fifteenth century. Ellwangen's founding date of 764 is a troubling detail in the historical record, since Wicterp is supposed to have died in 749. (although I’ve found one reference saying that he “was bishop about 739 or 768.”)

From The Biographical Index of the Middle Ages.  "749?" indeed. 

During his tenure at Ellwangen, St. Wicterp is said to have been a major player in the foundation of additional important abbeys at Füssen, Wessobrünn, and Kempten. I made the mistake of looking up the conventional dates when these abbeys were founded, and see that Füssen is dated to the early 800s, Wessobrünn to 753, and Kempten to “about 700.”  Two were founded after St. Wicterp’s death, in other words, and the other well before his working life began.

Frankly, it is going to take a hagiographer with actual credentials to sort this all out.

“Eventually,” or “later,” Wicterp was elected to the bishopric of Augsburg. That’s about all the standard histories have to say about it.

I found an footnote, however, that suggests that St. Wicterp might be a quietly important figure in the history of European music.

From The Monks of the West, 1872.
I also found a survey of the history of European coins that, although it only mentions St. Wicterp in passing, is a fun illustration of how history can take on strange textures if you look at it through the lens of a specific interest.

"approx. 738 - before 772"???  Where's a medieval historian when you actually need one?!
 May I be the first to wish you and your family a happy, healthy Saint Wicterp of Augsburg's Day?  I bet I can!  Since there are no established traditions (chocolate hearts, green beer) for the day, I encourage you to suggest new ones in the comments!


mrs.5000 said...

I'm going to build a pipe organ in our living room, to commemorate St. Wicterp's miracles of time travel.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

When you guys get the pipe organ set up, I want to see that thing. And might I request some Iron Butterfly?

lamanyana said...

My piano teacher back when I was a kid had a pipe organ in her living room. (Well - the console was there - many of the pipes were actually beneath it in the basement.) The organ had been installed by a previous owner of the house: Frank Bruce Robinson, the founder of Psychiana - the "world's largest mail order religion" (