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St. William of Ebelholt



(Also called WILLIAM OF PARIS and WILLIAM OF THE PARACLETE.)

Died on Easter Sunday, 1203, and was buried at Ebelholt. He was educated by his uncle Hugh, forty-second Abbot of St-Germain-des-Pres at Paris; and having been ordained subdeacon received a canonry in the Church of Ste-Geneviève-du-Mont. His exemplary life did not commend him to his fellow canons, who tried to rid themselves of his presence, and even prevented by slander his ordination to the diaconate by the Bishop of Paris. William obtained this order from the Bishop of Senlis by his uncle's intercession, and was soon afterwards presented by the canons to the little priory of Epinay. In 1148, by order of Pope Eugene III, the secular canons of Ste-Geneviève were replaced by canons regular from the Parisian monastery of St. Victor, whose prior, Odo, was made abbot of Ste-Genevieve. William soon afterwards joined the new community and was made sub-prior. In this position he showed great zeal for the religious life, and on one occasion opposed the entry of a new prior who had obtained his position irregularly; for this he was punished by Abbot Garin, successor of Odo, but his action was finally supported by Pope Alexander III.

In 1161 Absalom, Bishop of Roskilde, Denmark, sent to Paris the provost of his cathedral to obtain canons regular for the reform of the monastery of St. Thomas of Eskilsöe. In 1165 William journeyed to Denmark with three companions, and became abbot of that house. In spite of difficulties arising from poverty and opposition on the part of the community he reformed the monastery and in 1178 transferred it to Ebelholt, or the Paraclete, in Zeeland. He was entrusted with important business by Absalom, now Archbishop of Lund, and intervened in the case of Philip Augustus of France who was attempting to repudiate his wife Ingelborg, sister of Cnut of Denmark. The genealogy of the Danish kings which he drew up on this occasion to disprove the alleged impediment of consanguinity and two books of his letters, some of which deal with this affair, have come down to us, and together with an account of probable authenticity of the invention of the relics of Ste-Geneviève in 1161 and a few charters relating to his monastery may be found in P.L., CCIX. An account of his miracles is given in the "Vita" written by one of his younger disciples. He was canonized by Honorius III in 1224. His feast is commemorated on 18 June.

For the Vita and other sources of William's Life see LANGEBEK, Script. rer. dan. (9 vols., Copenhagen, 1772-1878), reprinted in P. L., CCIX; PAPERBROCH, Vita, with commentary, in Acta SS., I April, 625 sqq.; LAGER, Ep. XL in P. L., CLXXXVI.

Raymund Webster.








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