Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Wendelin, Hermit and Abbot

Saint WendelinArticle

The commemoration of the holy Abbot Wendelin is also made in this month. He was a royal Scotch prince, and passed his childhood and youth very piously. The knowledge of the vanity of all temporal delights, honors and riches awakened in him a great desire to strive only after eternal possessions. Hence, he secretly, in the humble garb of a pilgrim, left, not only the royal palace, but also his country, with the intention of serving the Lord unknown in the desert. Having visited the shrines of the holy Apostles at Rome, and also the most renowned places of pilgrimage in France, he came to Westrich, in Germany, which at that period was nothing but a wilderness. On the spot where now stands Saint Wendel’s Chapel, he built himself a poor little hut with the boughs of trees. He took his rest at night on dried leaves, and practised for several years all possible penances. One day when he went to Treves to perform his devotions, and begged his bread from house to house, a nobleman who saw him, reproved him with great vehemance, saying that begging was the result of laziness and a disorderly life. Having abused him most violently, he added: “If you desire to maintain yourself honestly, come to me and you may guard my cattle, and this will prevent you from begging and stealing the bread from other poor people.” The servant of God listened most patiently to the lord, and considering that all this might serve to make him despise the world still more, he accepted the offer.

At first, only the pigs, then the cows and oxen, and at last the sheep were entrusted to his care, and Wendelin, though by birth a prince, unweariedly fulfilled his humble duties. Whilst he was out in the fields with the cattle, he employed his time in praying and devout reading. He associated not with the other shepherds, as he preceived that they were unguarded in their words and actions. God frequently permitted his Guardian Angel to appear to him and.encourage him to continue in his humble manner of living. Besides this, the sheep under his care were evidently blessed, as not only no accident ever happened to them, but they were likewise unusually fruitful, when the nobleman became aware of this he began to esteem Wendelin, while his servants persecuted him in every way. Among other things, they accused him of driving the sheep to a field so far distant that they were exhausted when they returned to the fold. The nobleman wished to convince himself of this, and found Wendelin, one evening, in a field very far from home. Greatly indignant at this, he reproved the pious man sharply. Wendelin begged him to moderate his wrath, assuring him that he would be home with his flock in time. This, by a miracle, really happened; for although the nobleman, on horseback, hastened home, Wendelin, with his flock reached it before him. Greatly surprised at this miracle, the lord begged the Saint’s pardon, and offered him a great sum of money, that in future he might be no longer under the necessity of serving, but might lead an easy life. Wendelin, however, took only his wages, which he gave to the poor, and then returned to the desert, where he practised his former austerity, until God called him elsewhere, as we shall presently hear.

Meanwhile the Evil One endeavored to disturb the Saint by the most fearful temptations. He also attempted to frighten him by harrible apparitions. The Saint however, fighting against him, remained constant, and persevered in his holy life.

The inhabitants of the neighboring villages having heard of the Saint, came to him in all their troubles, especially at a time when an epidemic broke out among their cattle. At their entreaty, the holy man went with them, made the sign of the holy cross over the cattle, and restored them to health. In this manner God caused His humble servant to be greatly honored. It was also by the inspiration of the Almighty that the religious of the monastery of Thorley, which was not far from the hut of the Saint, elected him as successor to their late Abbot. Severin, the holy Archbishop of Treves, who had heard much of the Saint’s holiness, was much pleased with this election, and he himself ordained him. Wendelin administered his office with great wisdom, and led those under him both by precept and example to spiritual perfection, until the Almighty called him to receive his eternal reward. Saint Severin visited him in his last sickness, and administered the holy Sacraments to him. The Saint imparted to him who he was, and why he had left his father’s court and had chosen so austere a life. Soon after having made this communication, he expired. When the Archbishop, after the Saint’s death, revealed the holy Abbot’s history, every one was deeply touched. The holy body was buried, by divine inspiration, in the place where Saint Wendelin had lived as a hermit. The many miracles that were wrought at his tomb on sick men and animals, caused a large Church and several houses to be erected there. This was the origin of the town which bears the name of the Saint. A spring is shown there, which arose at his prayer. When he had perceived a diminution of water, he prayed to God with great confidence, and then stuck his staff into the ground, when clear water sprang up, which to this day, is wholesome for man and cattle. Saint Wendelin is invoked and honored as a special intercessor in times of epidemic among animals.

Practical Considerations

• Saint Wendelin did not allow himself to be disturbed in his holy life by the temptations and threats of the devil, but fought bravely and unweariedly against him. Saint Gall acted in the same way. The Evil One disturbs a great many in a violent manner with his temptations; hence, some become faint-hearted, and imagine that it is impossible to conquer him. But they are wrong in thus despairing; for, Saint Bernard says very justly: “The devil can howl, but he cannot kill any one. Let him howl as long as he likes, and let us take care not to act like irrational animals, which are frightened by howling alone.” This means, that Satan is powerless with all his temptations, if you do not consent. You can conquer him by the grace of God. Therefore, do not become faint-hearted, but fight bravely. If he sees that he has frightened you, he is much pleased, and it is to be feared that he will overcome you entirely. But when he sees that you despise him more than you fear him; that you meet him fearlessly, especially at the beginning of his temptations, he generally loses courage and flies, as he did from Christ, whom he tempted three times, and was as often bravely and decidedly rejected. Saint Chrysostom says: “Satan ventures a violent assault: if we, however, show ourselves strong-hearted and unyielding, he slowly retires, and at last flies.”

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Wendelin, Hermit and Abbot”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 May 2018. Web. 6 December 2019. <>