Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict – Saint William, Abbot

illustration of Saint William, Abbot, from the book 'Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict', designed by Father Amandus LiebhaberItaly gave Saint William to the world. He was the illustrious offspring of an illustrious race, and before his birth there were not wanting signs of his future greatness, for his mother, when pregnant, saw a vision in which her expected infant was lying on her breast, surrounded with a halo of celestial light. The wife of the Emperor Otho was sponsor for the newborn child, and gave him the name of William. He was sent to the Monastery of Luce to be educated, and there he readily imbibed the rudiments of learning, while he preserved intact his baptismal innocence. While still a boy, he was often to be seen kneeling before his Crucifix, his eyes raised to Heaven and his hands clasped in prayer, weeping for love of the Lord. When he grew up, he renounced the world and entered the Benedictine Order, and he soon became so famous on account both of his learning and virtues that he was the pride of the community. His special work when he grew old was the instruction of novices, whom, both by his example and instructions, he led in the way of holiness. Miracles were not wanting to attend his sanctity. One day, as a member of the community was riding home to the Monastery, his horse turned restive and fell over a precipice. Saint William, who was praying at the time, sent a servant to bring in the body of the poor animal, but when the man reached the scene of the disaster, he found the horse grazing peacefully in a field close by, and quite unhurt. The prayers of the Saint procured for his father the grace to forsake the world and to devote the closing years of his life to God in the Monastic state at Cluny. Saint William was afterwards chosen to be Abbot of the Monastery of Dijon,1 in Gaul, but he was afterwards removed to Fiseau, which he governed in strict conformity with the Rule of Saint Benedict. Later on, he returned to Italy, where he built a noble Monastery, into which he imported a colony of Monks from Cluny. He foretold the day of his death, which occurred on January 14th, 1031.

– text and illustration taken from Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict by Father Aegedius Ranbeck, O.S.B.