First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Saint Willibald (Wilibaldus), the holy man, was born of Saint Richard, duke of Swabia and king of the English, and his wife the most chaste Bunna. And after he had visited the Holy Land as a pilgrim, and came to Rome, Pope Gregory the Third, who loved him for his sincerity and constancy in the faith, commended him to Saint Boniface, the archbishop of Mainz. On the 11th day of the Kalends of August he was consecrated as a priest by his friendly kinsman, St. Boniface. In the Year of Salvation 740, being then 41 years of age, he was appointed to the bishopric of Eichstädt (Eystetensi), which Saint Boniface had created from the estates which Swigerus the count, had given him for the sake of God. He was also chancellor of the see at Mainz, and he and his heirs were given the chancellorship of the same see in perpetuity, with the privilege of sitting at the right hand of the archbishops of Mainz in all general councils. He also received the robe of honor, called the rationale[The word rationale was used to describe the medieval episcopal insignia.], which the old priests used; and his successors were also to have the privilege of wearing it. This holy man Willibald began the erection of the city of Eichstädt in a wild hermitage by the river Altmühl (Alimonium), after chopping down the woods. Here is a praiseworthy nunnery of the Order of Saint Benedict, and in it is the grave of the holy and wonderful virgin Walpurgis, who was St. Willibald’s sister. Out of this flows a holy oil which restores the sick to health. The very reverend Bishop Wilhelm, of the noble family of Reichenau, is in the possession of the bishopric of Eichstädt, which he administers at this time. It is also called the Aurealtan (Aureantensis) bishopric.

Willibald, said to have been a kinsman of St. Boniface, was a native of Wessex. He was born in 700, and having with difficulty struggled throughout the ailments of infancy, at the age of three was dedicated to the service of Christ by his despairing parents. He was placed in a monastery at five, made great progress in learning, and was loved for his virtues. As he grew up he developed a passion for travel. His father sold his possessions, and with his family, including his sons Wunibald and Willibald, and his daughter Walpurgis, journeyed toward Rome. The father died at Lucca, but the sons journeyed on to Rome. From there Willibald left for the Holy Land with a band of pilgrims; and there he visited many places. He returned by way of Constantinople, traveled through Syracuse, Naples and Capua, and finally settled at Monte Cassino. He had now been absent from England for ten years. He went to Rome in 733 and visited Gregory III, who sent him to join Boniface. Suitgar, Count of Kirsberg, anxious that the Gospel be read throughout his land, gave Willibald the place now called Eichstädt. Boniface accompanied Willibald to the scene of his future labors, and ordained him priest in the little church of St. Mary, which stood where now cluster the spires of the cathedral city.

Willibald probably planted his residence on the spur of the rock named after him, round which the river winds, now crowned by the vast castle-palace of the bishops of Eichstädt, converted into a barrack in modern times. He was ordained in 739 and sent into Thüringia, where he met his brother Wunibald. Shortly after this visit he was consecrated bishop of Eichstädt, at the age of 41. He at once founded a monastery and sent his disciples throughout the land. He was joined by his sister Walpurgis, for whom he built a convent on the slope of the limestone hill above the river, and there she died and reposes. Willibald is supposed to have died in the year 786 at the age of 86. His body reposes in the cathedral of Eichstädt.


Eichstädt is represented by a special woodcut. The old Bavarian town nestles in the valley of the Altmühl (the river shown at the left), 35 miles south of Nuremberg. It is girded about by a wall and is well fortified. The cathedral of St. Willibald (first bishop of Eichstädt), the church of his sister St. Walpurgis, and the Capuchian church, are the chief ecclesiastical structures. Of the secular buildings the most noted are the town hall and the Leuchtenberg Palace, once the residence of the Prince Bishops, and later of the dukes of Leuchtenberg. The Willibaldsburg, built on a neighboring hill in the 14th century, was long the residence of the prince-bishops of Eichstädt, and now contains an historical museum. Eichstädt was originally a Roman colony, which, after the foundation of the bishopric by Boniface in 745, developed considerably and was walled in 908.