Saint Vicelin of Hameln
1090 - 1154
( Wicelinus, Vicelinus, Vicelin, Vizelin, Wissel, Witzel, Wizelin, Wizo )
round 851 the Benedictine Monastery Hameln was founded at a suitable crossing place at the river Weser by a the "Imperial Abbey of Fulda"', and thus began the village of Hameln. »
It was here that Vicelin was born in 1090. His parents died while he was still young, and he was raised by his Uncle Ludolf, a priest in a neighboring village. He studied first in Hameln, and later, at the Cathedral School in nearby Paderborn. He worked as a teacher and rose to headmaster of the local school in Bremen. In 1122, he began studies in Laon, France, finding an interest in the progressive philosophical ideas of Anselm of Canterbury, Pierre Abaelard and Gilbert of Poitiers.
He then traveled to Magdeburg in the hope of serving under the guidance of Archbishop Norbert of Xanten. But, while here, Vicelin was inspired to undertake the work of converting the Wagrian Wends to Christianity. Seeking support, Vicelin found Archbishop Adalbero of Bremen to be sympathetic to his cause. His mission work began in Old Lubeck. Despite the many hostilities, he founded monasteries at Neumünster, Holstein, Segeberg, and Hogersdorf. As the Wendish population fell away, he worked in strengthening the faith among the ambivalent coastal Saxons. With the Wends gone, new lands were opened to migrating Christian settlers that came from Flanders, Friesland, Westphalia and Holstein.
In 1149, Vicelin was elected Bishop of Oldenburg; but his election fell under great controversy. And before a full resolution could be reached, Vicelin fell ill for the last two years of his life.
Vicelin was cannonized a saint, as were many of the early Christian missionaries. His influence on northern Germany remains quite evident. There are many churches and religious organizations that still bear his name.
The name Vicelin is found in many forms: Vicelinus, Vicelin, Vizelin, Wissel, Witzel, Wizelin. His name has been associated with the personal name Wizo, also known in German as der Weise, 'the Wise'.
To honor Vicelin, in 1812, the Danish artist, Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, painted 'Vicelin deler mad ud til trængende','Vicelin distributing Bread among the Poor'.
Even by 1921, his mission was venerated by the city of Basau during the great German depression. Notgeld, emergency currency, was issued depicting the church built there by Wizelin in 1152: erbaut durch Wizelin 1152, meaning 'built by Wizelin 1152'. The church still stands today.