This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12 -- Feast of Saint Vicelinus

Apostle to the Obotrites

Vicelinus was an alumnus of the University of Paris, Class of 1126.  Saint Norbert himself (June 6) ordained him as a priest.  That's twice in two days that Norbert has shown up here.  I guess next June there will be a post about him.

Archbishop Adalbero II of Bremen dispatched him to the Obotrites (Obodrites, Abotrites, etc), a tribe of Wends living up around Holstein.  As allies of Charlemagne against the Saxons, these western Slavs had a favored spot in the ninth century political order, but by 1147 they found themselves the target of a Crusade.  Danes, Germans, and Poles ganged up on the Wends to forced them into political as well as religious submission.  Vicelinus, who had been plugging away at converting these folks, found things both simpler and more complicated.  It was simple in that suddenly, every Wend was Christian on penalty of death.  It was more complicated in that "penalty of death" is seldom a way to win the local hearts and minds.  Moreover, he as the new archbishop of Oldenburg, he was the Face of the Occupation.  That's hardly the sort of position to endear oneself to the locals. 

Even though Oldenburg was back in the hands of Christians, a Danish army came storming through and ruined it.  "They clep us drunkards," said Hamlet.  He might have added that they were right.  Vicelinus remained bishop, but had to move the seat of his diocese to Bosau, which apparently the Danes left standing.  A couple of strokes left him pretty impaired and he died not long after. 

Vicelinus has also been called Vicelin, Vizelin, Wissel, Witzel, and Wizelin. His name has been associated with the personal name Wizo, also known in German as der Weise, 'the Wise'.

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