St. Liutwin was originally a nobleman from Treves in France who came from a background full of noble personages in the Church and Merovingian court. He was the son of Saint Warinus, the paternal grandson of Saint Sigrada and his uncle was Saint Leodegarius. He was also a kinsman of the famous St. Lambert of Maastricht, the famous bishop and martyr who was put to death for defending the sanctity of marriage in the face of a scandalous affair involving the powerful Pepin of Heristal. Politically, Liutwin came from one of the most powerful families in Austrasia. His father, besides being a saint, was also the Count of Poitiers, and his mother's family was influential as well. Liutwin seemed well placed to succeed either in the world or in the Church.
Though brought up around the affairs of the court and styled Count of Treves at a young age, the course of his life changed when he was sent to be educated by his uncle, St. Basinus of Treves. Though Liutwin was not immediately interested in an ecclesiastical calling and went on to marry the lovely Willigard of Bavaria and have children (one of his daughters married Charles Martel), his time with his saintly uncle instilled in him a love for the holy Faith and a devotion to the Church. This was to bear fruit later in his life.
According to tradition, the great moment of Liutwin's life happened when he went hunting near the Saar River. According to legend, he grew tired and fell asleep under the shade of a tree. As he slept, the sun changed positions exposing him to its scorching hot rays. Fortunately, an eagle swept down and sat on Liutwin with its wings spread out, thus shading him from the rays of the sun while he slumbered. When Liutwin awoke, his servant told him how the eagle had protected him from getting sunburned. The significance of this was not lost on Liutwin, who realized that he had been napping near the chapel of St. Denis of Paris, whose special symbol was the eagle. Liutwin immediately took this to be a directive from God to establish a Benedictine monastery at the sight. This was done, and the chapel became a hub of missionary activity. A small church still exists on the site and is now known as St. Gangolf of Mettlach.
Soon enough the wife of Liutwin died, at which time Liutwin took vows at the monastery he endowed, where he lived as a simple monk. He did not long enjoy his solitude; in 697 he was elevated to coadjutor bishop of Treves with his uncle. Another major abbey near Mettlach was founded the following year. In these years of apostolic labor, Liutwin grew in sanctity while learning the work of administration from his uncle. It was no surprise when, in 705 upon the death of Basinus, Liutwin himself assumed the episcopacy of Treves. He was later appointed Bishop of Laon as well, which made Liutwin one of the most important ecclesiastics of the Frankish kingdom.
He governed his dioceses in holiness for seventeen years, dying in 722 at age 62. At the time of his death there was a dispute about where the holy bishop should be interned. After some controversy, it was decided to place his coffin on an unmanned ship and see where it landed. After some drifting, the ship came to rest at Mettlach, where Liutwin had spent most of his life and founded his two monasteries. His tomb became the site of many miracles in the following centuries. His Feast Day is September 29th.
Liutwin is the perfect example of a saint who excelled both as a layman and as a cleric, giving all he had over to God, at first in the lay state and later, when his wife died, as a monk and bishop. St. Liutwin, ora pro nobis!
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