Who is Saint Lambert?

Saint Lambert of Maastricht

close up of St LambertSaint Lambert was born sometime between 633 and 638 in Maestricht, which is now Maastricht, Netherlands and is located in the very southeastern tip of the Netherlands.

His parents, who belonged to the nobility, gave him a very religious education, and chose as his preceptor St. Landoaldus, priest of the cathedral church at Maestricht.

Lambert received instruction from St. Theodardus, the Bishop of Maestricht (668 or 669), whom he succeeded in 670 as Bishop of Maestricht.

Saint Theodardus was assassinated in the defense of the possessions of the church. Lambert was chosen by the people, at the age of 21 years, to be Saint Theodardus’ successor and the Bishop of Maestricht. Lambert taught his flock the Gospel and corrected gently their vices with a spiritual authority.

Lambert’s Life

During the calamitous days of Ebroin, Mayor of the Palace, Lambert, having defended the interests of King Childeric, was forced to flee from Maestricht. While Pharamundus administered his see, Lambert spent seven years (674-681) in the well-known Abbey of Stavelot, where he edified the monks by his saintly life.

In 681 Ebroin received his well-earned retribution, and Pepin of Heristal became mayor of the palace, at first of Austrasia, but in 687 of the whole domain of the Franks.

Pepin, who liked Lambert, permitted him to return to Maestricht and resume the administration of his see.

Some time later we find Lambert as a missionary in Toxandria, the Kempenland and Brabant of today. In order to spread the Gospel, he descended the River Meuse as far as Tiel and laboured along its banks in company with St. Willibrord, who had come from England in 691. It is very probable that Lambert came in contact with Sts. Wiro, Plechelmus, and Otger, who had built a church and monastery on the Pietersburg, later called the Odilienberg, near Roermond.

St. Landrada aided Lambert in founding the Abbey of Munsterbilsen.

Lambert’s Courageous Death

For4186 several centuries a controversy has been carried on concerning the manner of the saint’s death. According to tradition, Lambert became a martyr to his defence of marital fidelity. The Bollandists, Mabillon, Valois, Lecointe, Pagi and others held, however, that the saint was killed by Frankish nobles in revenge for the failure of a plundering expedition.

Kurth in 1876 critically examined the centuries-old tradition and, documents in hand, proved beyond further doubt that Lambert was martyred because of his defense of the marriage tie.

Pepin of Heristal lived for many years in irreproachable wedlock with the pious Plectrude, who bore him two sons. Later he entered into unlawful relations with Alpais, who became the mother of Charles Martel.

When no one had the courage to remonstrate with Pepin, Lambert went to his court like another John the Baptist. Alpais, fearing that Pepin might heed the admonitions of the saint, appealed to her brother Dodo. The latter sought revenge and caused Lambert to be assassinated in the chapel of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, built by St. Monulphus at Liège. His heart was pierced by a javelin while he was at the altar.

Lambert’s Burial

The servants of the martyr placed his remains in a vessel, descended the Meuse to Maestricht, and buried them in the cemetery of St. Peter, in the vault of his parents, Aper and Herisplindis, beneath the walls of Maestricht.

Between 714 and 723, St. Hubert exhumed the remains and had them translated to Liège, whither he had transferred, presumably as early as 723, his episcopal see.

The saint’s feast is celebrated on 17 Sept.

Note from Fr. Mason – Sept. 20, 2009

When I arrived at St. Lambert and realized that we did not have an image of our patron anywhere on the premises, I had a mission.  After some effort on my own, an anonymous parishioner picked up the ball and through some international sleuth efforts obtained the image of an 18th century statue of Saint Lambert from Ekeren, Belgium that we now have hanging in our East Foyer.

St. Lambert Church would like to thank Leo Schrauwen and his son Jorge Schrauwen of Ekeren, Belgium for their hard work and help in providing us with a high quality picture of the statue of Saint Lambert located in the St. Lambert Church of Ekeren, Belgium (just North of Antwerp), for display in the foyer of our church.

Historical Geography

The map below shows locations that were key in the life of St. Lambert, in relation to recognized parts of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.  Click on it to enlarge.