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Our Patron Saint

O Lord God, you called Kilian and his companions from Ireland to preach the Gospel to the peoples of Southern Germany. Grant that your people may draw strength from their example and never fail to proclaim your truth and your love in our day, as we ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.


A Prayer for St. Kilian

God, you called missionaries from Ireland with Saint Killian
to take the message of the Gospel to Franconia and Bavaria;
Grant that the church may draw strength from their examples,
and never lack zeal to proclaim your love when the going is difficult:
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


St. Kilian
                                          St. Kilian

Saint Kilian

Saint Kilian was born in Cloughballybeg near Mullagh, County Cavan, Ireland around the year 640 A.D. He began his education in Roscarberry, County Cork and completed it in Touist in County Kerry. Embracing the monastic life he associated with himself a group of missionary minded monks who made plans for a great pilgrimage. From Kilmakilogue harbor, Saint Kilian and two companions (Coleman and Totnan) set sail in a hide-covered boat. They arrived at Rome in 686 and Pope Conon commissioned them to preach the gospel to the German peoples of Franconia (Baden and Bavaria). These three missionaries arrived in that region in the Fall of 686. Their work covered large areas but the center of the mission was in and around Würzburg. It was there that they converted Gosbert, Duke of that region. Gosbert had earlier married his brother's wife, Geilana. At the preaching of Kilian and his companions, Gosbert learned that such an act was unlawful for a Christian so he prepared to dismiss her. Geilana learned of Gosbert's plan and was filled with rage. While Gosbert was absent from his territory on a military expedition, Geilana had Kilian and his companions murdered and their bodies and sacred belongings buried. The date of their death was July 8, 689 A.D.

The work of the three missionaries did not survive after their deaths. A generation later, St. Boniface found only evidence of their preaching but no established Christian faith community. Saint Burchard, appointed by Boniface as the first bishop of Würzburg, built a cathedral on the spot where the martyrs were said to have met their deaths and had their relics unearthed and buried within a vault of that cathedral church.

Saint Kilian is one of many Irish missionaries to Europe in the sixth and seventh centuries. His memory is recalled today in both Ireland and Germany. He is not only the patron of the city Würzburg and region of Bavaria but also of many Catholic youth groups throughout Germany. His feast is observed on July 8. In Würzburg, his feast is marked by a week-long festival.

In Ireland, his memory is preserved in the village of Mullagh at the Saint Kilian Heritage Centre. This center holds records and celebrates St. Kilian's life. There one can hear of Christianity as an alternative world view which provided the unique vision which motivated heros such as St. Kilian. Visitors are in contact not with some mystic past but rather the spiritual and cultural energy upon which modern Europe was built. This unique center was built by the cooperative efforts of the local community and the Diocese of Würzburg in southern Germany.

The Church's universal calendar celebrates the feast of Saint Kilian on July 8.


History of Kilian, Saint from another source.


In the early 7th century, St. Kilian was born in the parish of Mullagh in the diocese of Kilmore, County Cavan, Ireland. Though little is known about Kilian’s early years in Ireland, it is believed that he was a descendant of a Scottish family that settled in Ireland.

In the second half of the 7th century, Kilian left Ireland with eleven companions. They sailed to Franconia (now Germany) and eventually decided to evangelize the Würzburg region. Kilian and his companions went to Rome for a papal blessing and approval to do this evangelistic work for the Church. The twelve were received by Pope Canon who gave them the permission to preach in the name of God and the Apostles, and to return to Würzburg as missionaries. On the return back the twelve separated and only Kolonat, a priest, and Totnan, a deacon, followed their Bishop. These three became the first preachers of Christianity in Franconia. The preaching of these missionaries was blessed by God and many of the people were converted to the faith. Around Easter in the year 688, St. Kilian baptized the then reigning Duke Gozbert. The Duke, however, was married to his brother’s widow which was against the valid Frankish law and the law of the Church at the time. After the Duke had become strong in the Christian Faith, Kilian advised him to let his wife go. Gozbert agreed to abandon everything that was dear and beloved to him out of love for Almighty God. The Duke planned to arrange for his separation from Geilana when he returned from a crusade to which he was called.

When Duchess Geilana heard about the Duke’s intentions, she became angry and full of hatred towards Kilian and his companions. She hired two murderers to destroy these messengers of God who had traveled as Apostles through all of Franconia. Tradition tells us that God revealed his fate to St. Kilian with the words, “Friend Kilian, arise. I do not want you to exert yourself any longer. Just one more battle and you will march in as victor with me.” During the night the murderers broke in and Kilian encouraged his companions with the words of the Lord, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Following those words, Kilian, Totnan and Kolonat were beheaded. That same night they were secretly buried in the stables belonging to the Duke. Their vessels cross and Bible, and their priestly garments were buried with them. The year was 689. When Duke Gozbert returned from the war, he inquired as to the whereabouts of the noble servants of God. His wife replied that she did not know, but one of the murderers admitted his crime, and then took his own life. It is said that the other murderer became insane and killed himself with his own sword. Eventually Geilana fell victim to the same fate.

When St. Boniface established the see of Würzburg in 742, he formed a committee to find the grave of the three murdered men. St. Burchard, the first Bishop of Würzburg, asked the people to pray and to fast in order that the search might end in success. On July 8, 752 , the remains of the three bodies were found in a shallow grave. Their flesh had turned to dust but their garments and books were untouched by time. As the relics were lifted from the grave, the air was filled with a sweet smell, like flowers. Bishop Burchard wrapped the relics in a silken cloth and transferred them to a vault. Reliable tradition relates that the martyrdom took place in a settlement on the right side of the river Main on the site in Neumunster. Above the original sepulcher St. Kilian and his companions were interred in the first Cathedral by St. Burchard’s successor. It was consecrated in 788 by Bishop Berowulf in the presence of Charlemagne, and the relics of St. Kilian were returned to the place of honor.

Through the centuries, devotion to St. Kilian and his companions has remained strong.  A New Testament belonging to St. Kilian was preserved among the treasures of Würzburg Cathedral until 1803, and since then has been in the university library. This same Bible is exposed on the high altar of that cathedral on his feast day, which is celebrated each year on July 8th.

In art, Saint Kilian is a bishop holding a sword (often large) and standing between two priests. Sometimes all three are shown assassinated at the command of the Duchess, or Kilian is shown between Kolonat and Totnan buried in a stable as a blind priest is cured at their grave. Some old hymns in Latin and German survive that honor him. The trio are also venerated as the patrons of whitewashers, and are invoked against gout and rheumatism.


Information on St. Kilian from Catholic Online

Information on St. Kilian from New Advent

Information on St. Kilian from Catholic Saints Info