Walburga (DNB00)

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WALBURGA or WALPURGA (d. 779?), saint, abbess of Heidenheim, was the sister of Willibald [q. v.] and Wynnebald. Their legend calls them the children of a certain Richard, but the name is an impossible one. Boniface (680–755) [q. v.] wrote from Germany, asking that the two nuns Lioba and Walburga might be sent to him (Mon. Mogunt. ed. Jaffé, p. 490), and it is therefore supposed that Walburga was with Lioba at Wimborne, and that she went with her to Germany in 752. Legend, no doubt wrongly, makes Walburga accompany her brothers to Italy in 721. She was present at the death of her brother Wynnebald in 761 at Heidenheim (Holder-Egger, Mon. Ger. Scriptt. xv. 80), and was made abbess of that double monastery. She was living in or after 778, when an anonymous nun wrote lives of her brothers. These lives have been wrongly ascribed to Walburga herself, because the authoress was, like her, of English birth, a relative of the brothers, and a nun of Heidenheim. The writer refers to Walburga as one of her sources of information.

[Mon. Ger. Scriptores, xv. 80, 117, the best edition of the lives of Willibald and Wynnebald; Life of St. Walburga by a Monk, Wolfhard of Herrieden, written at the request of Erchimbald, bishop of Eichstädt (882–912), who removed the relics of Walburga from Eichstädt (whither they had been moved in 870) to Monheim, in 893, in Acta SS. Boll. Feb. iii. 523. There is a long list of lives in Chevalier's Répertoire. On the Walpurgis myth, see Rochholz, Drei Gaugöttinnen, Leipzig, 1870.]

M. B.