Walburga is the daughter of St. Richard and Una his wife, and sister to
SS. Willibald and Wunnibald, and she remained at the abbey at Wimbourne
under the Abbess St. Tetta when her menfolk set off for the Holy Land.
Later she joined her brothers in Germany, when her uncle, St. Boniface,
sent to Wimborne asking for sisters to help with missionary work.
After a couple of years with St. Lioba at Bischofsheim she was appointed
abbess of the convent of nuns founded by her brothers in Heidenheim, and
when Winnibald died, his monastery for monks was added to hers to make a
double community, which she ruled until her own death. She was held in
highest honour among the people and is credited with miracles during her
life time, including the extinguishing of a fire which threatened to
destroy a settlement of wooden houses with thatched roofs. She is
represented sometimes with the emblem of three ears of wheat with which
she is said to have cured a girl with a ravenous appetite.
It is perhaps the miracles after her death for which she is most famous.
In 779 she was first buried in Heidenheim, but in 870, her body was
translated to lie with her brothers at Eichstadt. Soon after this the
exuding of a fragrant liquid from her tomb was first observed, and from
that time the Oil of St. Walburga has been much prized for its curative
The Life of St. Walburga was written by Wolfhard at the end of the 9th
century, and there is an interesting excerpt from Gritser's chronicles
of the Bishops of Eichstadt as a preface to one edition of it. It
describes how one Barnard Adelmann, a Canon of Eichstadt, was sent with
the histories of the Saints and relics to the King of England in 1492.
These presents were received with great reverence at Canterbury, and
among all the relics, that which the king chiefly admired and venerated
was the Oil of St. Walpurgis.
St. Walburga was canonised on May 1st, the day of the great heathen
festival of spring, and the gathering of the German witches made famous
by Goethe. So the night of the witches has become Walpurgisnacht and she
is honoured as the protectress against black magic. Her main feast,
however, is February 25th.
No icon available, but this webpage has a charming statue