Lambert of Liege

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Martyrdom of St. Lambert (15th century)
St. Lambert's Reliquary , the largest late Gothic reliquary bust in Europe, treasury of St. Paul's Cathedral in Liège
St. Lambertus, around 1400, St. Lambrecht Monastery (Palatinate)
St. Lambertus, statue in Mingolsheim, with the sword as an iconographic symbol for the nature of his martyrdom

Lambert von Liège (* around 635 in Maastricht ; †  September 17th around 705 in Liège ), also Lambert von Maastricht and St. Lambertus , was bishop of Tongeren -Maastricht and martyrs . His admiration came from the Liège Lambertus Cathedral (first construction completed in 718) with the Lambert Mausoleum .


Lambert (also called Lamprecht or Landibert), a son of a count's family, succeeded the murdered Theodard , his uncle and teacher, as Bishop of Maastricht in 670 . When the Frankish caretaker Ebroin came to power again after the death of the Merovingian regent Childerich II in 675, he banished several Austrasian personalities; Lambert was also deposed as bishop and banished to the Stablo monastery until Ebroin's death in 682 . Pippin the Middle , Ebroin's successor, reinstated him in his episcopate.

Bishop Lambert is also said to be with St. Willibrord have worked together in the renewal of the diocese and the expansion of the Christian faith in Brabant and Kempen , including in the Toxandria region .

Because Bishop Lambert consistently defended the Church's immunity rights against state authority, he was killed on September 17th, probably in the year 705, in his home in Liège ( Leodium ). He was initially buried in his father's grave in the Ecclesia sancti Petri in Maastricht, but was returned to the place of death around 717 by his successor, Bishop Hubertus, on the occasion of the transfer of the bishopric to Liège. Even earlier, in 714, a “Basilica of St. Martyrers Lambert ”mentioned, which was probably erected on the site of the murder in Liege. The new Basilica sancti Landiberti , completed in 718, was built above the Liège house and Lambert's grave, and soon a special veneration of Bishop Lambert began. The cathedral church, enlarged again and again in the following centuries (Carolingian building, Ottonian basilica, Gothic cathedral) and the Lambert mausoleum existed until they were completely destroyed in the turmoil after the French Revolution (1794).


The Lambert Vita is contained in five medieval sources, the oldest of which was written at the beginning of the 8th century:

  • Vita vetustissima , already written down in the years after 730 by a Liège cleric (Gottschalk?).
  • Vita of Bishop Stephan von Lüttich (approx. 901–920) with a revision of the first biography in sophisticated language as well as with prayers and hymns.
  • Carmen de Sancto Lamberto : poetic version of the vita of Bishop Stephan, which he had written to spread the Lambert cult.
  • The life and suffering of St. Bishop and Martyr Lambert , written down by the Benedictine Sigebert von Gembloux (approx. 1030–1112).
  • Vita of Canon Nikolaus from Liège, written on behalf of Abbot Wederich von Lissies (Northern France).


The solemn exhumation of the mortal remains of his predecessor, initiated by Bishop Hubertus around the year 718, and their ceremonial transfer to Liège were the usual rites of canonization at that time, which amounted to a formal canonization . The veneration of St. Lambert spread quickly in the territory of the Carolingians, in the Cologne area, on the Middle Rhine, in Westphalia, southwest Germany and Bavaria. Above all, it is worth mentioning:

September 17 is in all martyrologies as the death of St. Called Lambert. His feast is celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church on September 18th. Also in the Protestant calendar name of the EKD is the memorial of St. Lambert on that date.

About 450 years after the burial of Bishop Lambert in the new cathedral church of Liège, a Freiburg citizen was appointed Bishop of Liège: Rudolf von Zähringen , a son of Duke Konrad von Zähringen and his wife Clementia von Luxemburg-Namur, was bishop of 1168-1911 Liege. In 1191 he brought a head relic of St. Lambert moved to Freiburg im Breisgau , which after his death was initially kept in the upper castle chapel on the Freiburg Castle Hill and from 1366 in the Freiburg Minster . Since then, Bishop Lambert von Liège has been venerated as the city ​​patron of Freiburg. He shares this position with the catacomb saint St. Alexander, who has largely replaced the older city patron St. George in depictions since the 17th century. In the city of Lambrecht (Palatinate) , one of the oldest depictions of Sts can be found in the former Dominican monastery church . Lambert as a secco wall painting. Here St. Lambert has been venerated in the former Benedictine monastery since 977. In Grafschaft - Lantershofen ( Ahrweiler district ) there is the St. Lambert Study House , an interdiocesan seminary for late-calling priestly candidates and the largest seminary in Germany. The city of Kerkrade has it in its coat of arms .

regional customs

Lambertus pyramid with lanterns in Steinfurt- Borghorst

In many parishes in the Münsterland, Bishop Lambert stands for the well-known Lambertussingen, also known as Käskenspiel ( Käsken = candle / candle), on September 17th, the evening before Lambertu's Day. Singing sometimes only takes place in a small circle in a residential area. The children (and parents) run around and call out the other children who come with the rhyme "Children come down, Lambertus is lively". Usually a pointed wooden pyramid is built up and decorated with green branches. The children bring lanterns, some of which they have made themselves, which are then put into the pyramid. Then, with the support of the parents, there is strong singing. Popular songs include "A hole is in the bucket" or the religious number song "Good friend, I ask you". "O Buer, wat kost 'dien Hai ..." ( Low German ), a sung game scene , regularly makes the sweep. A man (or woman) disguised as a farmer (Buer) goes his rounds in a circle and looks for a woman, a child, a maid, a servant, a dog (also a child), a bone (also a Child) and a Pottlecker (often an adult). At the end of the song, the “Buer” is chased by the children. Usually he has a basket full of apples with him, which are distributed at the end.

The origin of this Lambertus custom is obscure. Possibly it goes back to the time when the craftsmen worked in the summer months, as long as daylight allowed. But the working days had become very short up to the Lambertus evening (September 17th). The craftsmen organized a big lantern festival, where they symbolically brought the light to their workplaces. From this point on, people also worked with the light of the lanterns during the winter months. This custom is said to have been brought to Munster by traders from Holland. There, on Lambertus Day, this festival was held first at the Lambertus Fountain and later also in other places. Centuries older than the festival of lights, however, is the Lambertus patrozinium of the city ​​and market church of Münster , which can be considered the starting point of the Münsterland custom.

Well-known Lambert churches

see under Lambertuskirche .


Lambert von Lüttich, Bishop of Tongern-Maastricht, was often depicted in the fine arts, on miniatures , seals and coins , on paintings and stained glass windows , as graphic work, sculpture and goldsmith work. Underneath there are individual portraits of the saint with his attributes : bishop's robe with miter and crook, sword, lance or arrow as murderous instruments, occasionally with a church model as an indication of the numerous churches he founded. There are also scenic representations such as the murder of the saint during Mass, the escort of the martyr crowned by angels or the elevation and solemn transfer of the body to Liège. Cycles also occur occasionally; the oldest example was a fresco frieze (around 1260) on the choir screen in the west apse of Trier Cathedral ; these ten representations from the life of St. Lambert are no longer preserved. Worthy of special mention: the stained glass windows with St. Lambert from Cologne around 1300 (Germanisches Museum) and from the Freiburg Charterhouse around 1515 (today in the Historical Museum of the City of Basel) as well as the two bust reliquaries in Liège (1512) and Freiburg im Breisgau (1514). The woodcut by Hans Holbein the Elder is also known. J. on the back of the title page of the Freiburg city law edition of 1520, on which the two city ​​patrons Georg and Lambert assist as patrons in the publication of the new city ​​law , in their midst the Blessed Mother and Child as patroness of the Freiburg Minster .


  • Philipp Engelbrecht: Divi Lamberti episcopi traiectensis, martyris & magni apud Friburgensis Brisgoicos Patroni vita . Basel 1519 (Freiburg University Library)
  • Johann Sattler: Chronicke of the city of Freyburg in Brisgay . Freiburg 1698 (Freiburg University Library)
  • Wilhelm Wattenbach:  Lambert, Bishop of Mastricht . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 17, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1883, p. 547.
  • Matthias Zender: Spaces and layers of medieval veneration of saints in their significance for folklore - the saints of the central Maasland and the Rhineland in cult history and spread . Düsseldorf 1959, pp. 27-60
  • Matthias Werner: The Liège area in early Carolingian times - investigations into the history of a Carolingian tribal landscape . Göttingen 1980, pp. 241-318
  • Basilius Senger:  Lambert. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 13, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1982, ISBN 3-428-00194-X , p. 433 ( digitized version ).
  • Karl Suso Frank: St. Lambertus, the imported city patron . In: Karl Suso Frank (ed.): The Zähringer in the Church of the 11th and 12th Centuries , Munich 1987, p. 7 ff.
  • Adriaan Breukelaar:  Lambert, Bishop of Maastricht. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 4, Bautz, Herzberg 1992, ISBN 3-88309-038-7 , Sp. 1021-1022.
  • Wolfgang Braunfels: Lexicon of Christian Iconography . 7th volume, Freiburg 1994, column 363 ff.
  • Benoît Van den Bossche: La cathédrale gothique Saint-Lambert à Liège - Une église et son context , Liège 2005
  • Georg Gresser : Article Lambert von Maastricht , in: Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche , 6th volume, 3rd edition Freiburg 2006, column 618, with further references
  • Hans Georg Wehrens: The city of Freiburg im Breisgau , Freiburg 2007, p. 26 ff.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hans Georg Wehrens: The city patron of Freiburg im Breisgau . In: Journal of the Breisgau history association "Schau-ins-Land" . 126 (annual booklet). Promo Verlag Freiburg, 2007, ISBN 978-3-923288-60-1 , p. 39-68 . Preview of: Freiburg historical holdings - digital , Freiburg University Library (shortened text), accessed on February 10, 2016.
  2. Heimatverein Nordwalde

Web links

Commons : Lambert von Lüttich  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Theodard Bishop of Maastricht