GREAT BRITAIN OF MY HEART
Saint Richard the Pilgrim, the King of Wessex, England (+720)
Saint Richard the Pilgrim (also known as St. Richard of Wessex, St. Richard the King, St. Richard the Saxon, St. Richard of Swabia. St. Ricarius) is a saint of England.
It is believed that Saint Richard was born in Wessex, England and his real name is uncertain. He was the brother-in-law of Saint Boniface (Archbishop of Mainz) and father of Saint Willibald (Bishop of Eichstätt), Saint Winnebald or Winibald (Abbot of Heidenheim) and Saint Walburga (Abbess of Heidenheim). Richard is depicted with Wuna, who is reputed to have been his wife and their three children at St. Walburga’s shrine in Eichstätt.
Richard is said to have aided his gravely ill three-year-old son, Willibald, to recover through prayer.
Richard renounced his royal estate and set sail with his two sons from Hamblehaven near Southampton circa 721 A.D. They landed in France and temporarily stayed in Rouen. From there, they set off on the pilgrimage route to Italy, where they prayed at shrines situated along the way.
He died unexpectedly after developing a fever in Lucca, Tuscany, where he was buried in the Church of San Frediano (founded by the Irish monk Frigidian). Miracles were reported to have occurred by his tomb and a veneration cult emerged. The people of Lucca embellished their accounts of his life, describing him as an English prince.
Richard’s niece, a nun called Hugeburc or Huneburc (Huneburc of Heidenheim), wrote an account of the pilgrimage, entitled “Hodoeporicon”, which Willibald, his son, continued during his journey to the Holy Land. Historians date the text between 761 and 786.
Some of Richard’s relics were transported to Eichstätt, where Willibald eventually became Bishop.
Richard’s feast day is 7 February.