William of Dijon

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Isola San Giulio, the birthplace of Wilhelm

Wilhelm von Dijon , Wilhelm von Volpiano or Wilhelm von Saint-Bénigne (* June / July 962 on Isola San Giulio ; † January 1, 1031 in Fécamp ) was a Burgundian-Italian abbot, monastery reformer and architect. He was born in the castle on Isola San Giulio ( Lake Orta in Piedmont ) as the son of Count Robert von Volpiano . Since Wilhelm was born during a (successful) attack by Emperor Otto I , Otto became his godfather and sponsor. Shortly after his death, Wilhelm's life story was written by his student Rodulfus Glaber in Cluny Abbey .

In 969 he began his education in the Benedictine abbey of Locadio near Vercelli , where he also entered the order. In 987 he became a monk in Cluny at the time of Abbot Maiolus . One of his tasks was the reorganization of the Saint-Saturnin Abbey in Pont-Saint-Esprit on the Rhone.

Saint-Bénigne Abbey, Dijon

In 990 William was ordained a priest and at the same time abbot of the Saint-Bénigne monastery in Dijon (today Dijon Cathedral ), which under his leadership became a center of spirituality , education and culture as part of the Cluniac reform . Saint-Bénigne became the motherhouse of about 40 other monasteries in Burgundy, Lorraine, Normandy and northern Italy. A new abbey church with a large rotunda east of the choir was built under Wilhelm's direction.


Fécamp Abbey
Bell tower of Fruttuaria Abbey

In 1001 he became Duke of Richard II. Of Normandy commissioned the Fécamp Abbey to reorganize, which was chosen by the Dukes as their final resting place. He also died here in 1031 after he had appointed his pupil Johannes von Fécamp as his successor. His grave is there in a chapel of the abbey church. His work in Fécamp also had an impact on the Jumièges and Troarn Abbeys . One of Wilhelm's pupils, Thierry, was first abbot of Jumièges, then abbot of Mont-Saint-Michel , where liturgical customs from Dijon were adopted.


On February 23, 1003 William founded the Abbey of Fruttuaria in San Benigno Canavese about 20 km north of Turin in Piedmont ; This monastery was founded by Arduin , Margrave of Ivrea and King of Italy , and his wife Berta, as well as Otto Wilhelm , Count of Burgundy , who were among his relatives. The Cluny-oriented order of life of the Fruttuaria monastery served as a model for German monasteries such as St. Blasien in the Black Forest and Siegburg near Bonn, which is why one speaks of the “fruttuian monastery reform”.


William of Dijon is also responsible for rebuilding the St. Germain-des-Prés Abbey .


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