Lebwin (DNB00)

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LEBWIN, LEBUINUS, or LIAFWINE, Saint (fl. 756), born of English parents, received the tonsure in youth, and, after being ordained priest, determined to follow in the steps of Willibrord and Boniface, and go as a missionary to the Germans. He arrived at Utrecht shortly after the death of Boniface (d. 756), and was received by Gregory, the third bishop of the city, who gave him as a companion one of Willibrord's disciples named Marcellinus or Marchelm. Having taken up his abode by the river Yssel, in the borderland between the Franks and the Saxons, where he lodged with a widow named Abachahild, he preached with success in Overyssel, and built two oratories or churches, one apparently at Wilp or Velp, near Deventer, and another with a house to the east of the river. Opposition arose; the heathen Saxons declared that he dealt in magic, and burnt his church and house. He resolved to appear at their national assembly held at Marklo, near the Weser, and probably in the district of Hoya. There he stayed with a noble named Folchert, who tried to persuade him not to venture into the assembly. Nevertheless, he clothed himself in his priestly vestments, and taking a crucifix in one hand, and the gospels in the other, he appeared before the assembled Saxons when they were engaged in sacrificing to their idols. He made an oration, in which he is said to have warned them that if they did not desist from their idolatry a king would be sent to punish them. Enraged at his words, they prepared to slay him with stakes which they tore from the thickets and sharpened, but he escaped from them. Then an old noble named Buto addressed the assembly, and, urging that Lebwin's escape proved him a messenger from God, persuaded his fellow-countrymen to decree that no one should hurt him. After this Lebwin went on with his work undisturbed, leading a life of holiness and self-mortification until his death on 12 Nov. When he was dead, his oratory at Velp was burnt by the heathen. It was rebuilt at Deventer, and his body was discovered and deposited there. The great collegiate church at Deventer is dedicated to his memory.

[The chief authority for Lebwin's life is the Vita S. Lebuini of Hucbald (918–76), printed in Mon. Hist. Germ. ii. 361 sq. (Pertz), and by Surius, vi. 277–86, who also gives the Ecloga et Sermo of Radbod, bishop of Utrecht, concerning Lebwin, ib. p. 839; Hucbald's work is freely translated in Cressy's Church Hist. of Brittany, xxiv. c. 7; Acta SS., O.S.B., sæc. iv. pp. 21, 36; Mon. Hist. Brit. p. 257 n. (Hardy); Butler's Lives of the Saints, xi. 226 sq.; Dict. Chr. Biog., art. ‘Lebuinus’ (2).]

W. H.