May 23 - Saint William of Rochester

Quick Facts
  • William led a wild and misspent youth, but as an adult he had a complete conversion, devoting himself to God, caring especially for poor and neglected children.
  • He worked as a baker, and gave every tenth loaf to the poor.
  • He attended Mass daily, and one morning on his way to church he found an infant abandoned on the threshold.
  • He named the baby David, and adopted him, and taught him his trade.
  • Years later he and David set out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands.
  • During a stopover in Rochester, England the boy David turned on William, clubbed him, cut his throat, robbed the body, and fled.
  • Because he was on a holy journey, and because of the miraculous cures later reported at his tomb, he is considered a martyr.
  • A local insane woman found William's body, and plaited a garland of honeysuckle flowers for it; she placed the garland on William, and then on herself whereupon her madness was cured.
  • Local monks, seeing this as a sign from God, interred William in the local cathedral and began work on his shrine.
  • His tomb and a chapel at his murder scene, called Palmersdene, soon became sites of pilgimage and donation, even by the crown.
  • Remains of the chapel can be seen near the present Saint William's Hospital.