Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Lambert

detail from a 15th century painting of the martyrdom of Saint Lambert of Liège; artist unknown; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

(Landebertus) Martyr, Bishop of Maestricht, born at Maestricht between 633 and 638; died at Liège, between 698 and 701. His parents, who belonged to the nobility, gave him a very religious education, and chose as his preceptor Saint Landoaldus, priest of the cathedral church at Maestricht. Later, Lambert received instruction from Saint Theodardus (668 or 669), whom he succeeded in 670 as Bishop of Maestricht. During the calamitous days of Ebroin, Mayor of the Palace, Lambert, having defended the interests of King Childeric, was forced to flee from Maestricht. While Pharamundus administered his see, Lambert spent seven years (674-681) in the well-known Abbey of Stavelot, where he edified the monks by his saintly life. In 681 Ebroin received his well-earned retribution, and Pepin of Heristal became mayor of the palace, at first of Austrasia, but in 687 of the whole domain of the Franks. Pepin, who liked Lambert, permitted him to return to Maestricht and resume the administration of his see. Some time later we find Lambert as a missionary in Toxandria, the Kempenland and Brabant of today. In order to spread the Gospel, he descended the River Meuse as far as Tiel and laboured along its banks in company with Saint Willibrord, who had come from England in 691. It is very probable that Lambert came in contact with Sts. Wiro, Plechelmus, and Otger, who had built a church and monastery on the Pietersburg, later called the Odilienberg, near Roermond. Saint Landrada aided Lambert in founding the Abbey of Munsterbilsen. For several centuries a controversy has been carried on concerning the manner of the saint’s death. According to tradition, Lambert became a martyr to his defence of marital fidelity. The Bollandists, Mabillon, Valois, Lecointe, Pagi and others held, however, that the saint was killed by Frankish nobles in revenge for the failure of a plundering expedition. Kurth in 1876 critically examined the centuries-old tradition and, documents in hand, proved beyond further doubt that Lambert was martyred because of his defence of the marriage tie. Pepin of Heristal lived for many years in irreproachable wedlock with the pious Plectrude, who bore him two sons. Later he entered into unlawful relations with Alpais, who became the mother of Charles Martel. When no one had the courage to remonstrate with Pepin, Lambert went to his court like another John the Baptist. Alpais, fearing that Pepin might heed the admonitions of the saint, appealed to her brother Dodo. The latter sought revenge and caused Lambert to be assassinated in the chapel of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, built by Saint Monulphus at Liège. His heart was pierced by a javelin while he was at the altar. The servants of the martyr placed his remains in a vessel, descended the Meuse to Maestricht, and buried them in the cemetery of Saint Peter, in the vault of his parents, Aper and Herisplindis, beneath the walls of Maestricht. Between 714 and 723, Saint Hubert exhumed the remains and had them translated to Liège, whither he had transferred, presumably as early as 723, his episcopal see. The saint’s feast is celebrated on 17 Sept. A large number of churches have Saint Lambert as their patron.

MLA Citation

  • Petrus Henricus Albers. “Saint Lambert”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 August 2016. Web. 19 November 2018. <>