Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saints Kilian, Bishop, Colman, Priest, and Totnan, Deacon, Martyrs


Kilian or Kuln was a holy Irish monk, of noble Scottish extraction. With two zealous companions he travelled to Rome in 686, and obtained of Pope Conon a commission to preach the gospel to the German idolaters in Franconia; upon which occasion Kilian was invested with episcopal authority. The missionaries converted and baptized great numbers at Wurtzburg, and among others Gosbert, the duke of that name. This prince had taken to wife Geilana, the relict of his deceased brother; and though he loved her tenderly, being put in mind by Saint Kilian that such a marriage was condemned and void by the law of the gospel, he promised to dismiss her, saying that we are bound to love God above father, mother, or wife. Geilana was tormented in mind beyond measure at this resolution; jealousy and ambition equally inflaming her breast; and, as the vengeance of a wicked woman has no bounds, during the absence of the duke in a military expedition, she sent assassins, who privately murdered the three holy missionaries in 688. The ruffians were themselves pursued by divine vengeance, and all perished miserably. Saint Burchard, who in the following century was placed by Saint Boniface in the episcopal see of Wurtzburg, translated their relics into his cathedral. A portion of those of Saint Kilian, in a rich shrine, was preserved in the treasury of the elector of Brunswic-Lunenburgh in 1713, as appears from the printed description of that cabinet.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saints Kilian, Bishop, Colman, Priest, and Totnan, Deacon, Martyrs”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 July 2013. Web. 23 February 2019. <>