The founder of the monastery of Echternach
Willibrord was born in Northumbria (England) in 658 into an aristocratic family. His father Wilgils presents him as a young Oblate at the famous Abbey of Ripon. In 678, he left his country to go to Ireland, where ten years later he was ordained priest.
According to ascetic ideals in vogue at the time in the Anglo-Saxon and iro-Scots milieux, he thinks to emigrate permanently, and to bring the Gospel to the Frisians. Willibrord realizes this project in 690. In 691 and 695, he went to Rome to seek the support of the Pope. During his second stay in Rome, the Anglo-Saxon missionary receives episcopal ordination. Willibrord fixed his see at Utrecht. In 698, he met in Trier, the abbess Irmina of Oeren who offers him her share of the “villa of Echternach” with the monastery and the churches she had built.
Willibrord founded a new monastery following the Benedictine rule. This institution represents from the beginning on a remarkable cultural center: it has books and has a scriptorium for the production of new manuscripts.
Willibrord died in Echternach on the night of 6th to 7th of November 739. He received his tomb behind the altar of the church built by his own care. His veneration began immediately.
It is in this Saint’s honour that takes place every year the famous dancing procession of Echternach.