St. Lioba of Bischoffsheim, Abbess Virgin

28 September

Previous Saint This month Next Saint
[Today's previous saint] [back to Calendar] [Today's next saint]

Born at Wimborne, Dorsetshire, England; died at Schornsheim (near Mainz), Germany, c. 779.

Saint Lioba's mother, descended of an illustrious family and closely related to Saint Boniface (f.d. June 5), had been barren for a long time before the saint was born. Nevertheless, Ebba immediately offered her to God and raised her in piety. She received her first education at Minster-in-Thanet. While Lioba was still young, she was placed in the care of the king's sister Saint Tetta (f.d. today) at the Benedictine convent in Wimborne (Winburn or "fountain of wine"). Lioba matured spiritually and emotionally under Tetta's tutelage, and eventually took the religious veil.

Tetta also ensured that she had a good education. Letters to Boniface reveal that Lioba understood and wrote verse in Latin. She limited her reading, however, to books that would stir her spirit to love of God. She knew by heart the divine precepts of the Old and New Testaments, the principal canons of the Church, the holy maxims of the Fathers, and the rules of the monastic life.

Boniface kept in touch with his young relative through frequent correspondence. Recognising her virtue and abilities, in 748, he requested of her bishop and abbess that she be sent to him with about 30 pious companions to undertake charitable work with women in Germany. Although Tetta regretted the loss of her protege, she could not refuse.

Upon their arrival in Germany, Boniface settled the women religious at Tauberbischofsheim ("bishop's home," possibly his own previous residence). Lioba's zeal attracted so many vocations that her convent was populating many other foundations throughout the country. Lioba's convents were one of the most powerful factors in the conversion of Germany.

The saint organised her convents in the true monastic tradition with a combination of manual labour (in scriptorium, kitchen, bakery, brewery, and garden), intellectual study (all had to learn Latin), community devotions, and leisure. No extreme austerities were permitted to interfere with the corporate life established by the Rule.

Her love of God was so appealing. She was always ready to set her hand to any task she might ask of others and did it with cheer and modesty. It is said that she was beautiful, that her countenance was angelic, and that her nuns loved her. Perhaps this is so because Lioba took to heart Saint Paul advice: "Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3) and "anticipate one another in showing honour" (Romans 12:9b). Thus, Lioba often washed the feet of her sisters in emulation of her Lord. The corporal acts of mercy were her delight, especially extending hospitality to strangers and caring for the poor. She was always patient, kind, and accessible to all who needed her.

Nevertheless, kings and princes honoured and respected her, especially Pepin the Short, Blessed Carloman (f.d. August 17) and Charlemagne. Charlemagne often called her to court at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) to seek her advice. His wife, Blessed Hildegard (f.d. April 30), loved her deeply and always heeded her advice, as did some of the bishops.

Before his martyrdom, Saint Boniface commended Lioba and her community to the care of Saint Lullus (f.d. October 16) and his monks at Fulda, and requested that her bones be buried next to his at their deaths that they might be raised at the resurrection and spend eternity together. It is said that the tender affection uniting Boniface and Lioba forms one of the most charming episodes in church history. Following Boniface's death in 754, Lioba frequently visited Fulda. By special dispensation, she would be allowed with two elder sisters to join in the choir.

Upon the advice of Lullus, Lioba resigned her offices in her old age and retired to the convent at Schornsheim, where she redoubled her prayer and penance. Occasionally she would answer Empress Hildegard's plea to visit her, but return to her cell as quickly as she could. On her last visit, she embraced the queen, kissed her on her garment, forehead, and mouth, then said: "Farewell, precious part of my soul; may Christ, our Creator and Redeemer, grant that we may see each other without confusion in the day of judgement."

After her death, Lioba was interred at Fulda, on the north side of the high altar, near the tomb of Saint Boniface. Her tomb was honoured with miracles; her biographer, Rudolph of Fulda, assures us he was himself an eyewitness to several. Her relics were translated in 819 and again in 838 to the church of Mount Saint Peter. Her name was first inserted into a martyrology by Hrabanus Maurus c. 836 (Attwater2, Benedictines, Bonniwell, Coulson, Farmer, Husenbeth).

Previous Saint This month Next Saint
[Today's previous saint] [back to Calendar] [Today's next saint]

Lives kindly supplied by:
For All the Saints:

These Lives are archived at:

content © 2008, Ambrose Mooney
layout © 2008, Kathleen Hanrahan and Mo! Langdon
Page last updated: 20 October 2008
Please send us comments, corrections, etc. - Kathleen or Mo!.
This page's URL: <>