Today’s Saint

Daily Journey with the Saints

July 8 | Return To Virtue

Saint Kilian

A.D. 640–689

The only way for our lives to genuinely improve is by acquiring virtue. 

Similarly, it is impossible for a society to genuinely improve unless its members grow in virtue. The renewal that the Church so desperately needs is a renewal of virtue. And it is our relationship with Jesus that gives us the strength, the grace, and the wisdom to grow in virtue. What is virtue? It is "a habitual and firm disposition to do good." (CCC 1833)

Saint Kilian went on a mission to evangelize Germany, and he started by calling everyone—even the local duke—to return to virtue.

Born in County Cavan of Ireland around the year 640, Kilian became a monk and then was ordained a priest. Inspired by the missionary activities of his time, he left Ireland with a group of companions and set out on a journey that would eventually take him to Germany.

Kilian settled in the region of Franconia and quickly gained a following due to his powerful preaching. He told the local people that their problems were the result of leaving the virtues behind—particularly the seven foundational virtues: Faith, Hope, Love, Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude.

The ruler of the region, Duke Gozbert, felt called to end his unlawful marriage to his brother's widow, Geilana. This scene was reminiscent of John the Baptist and Herod, except that Duke Gozbert actually listened to Kilian and separated from his wife, with the intention to have the marriage annulled.

Franconia quickly began to flourish. Its people started to make the virtues the foundation of their lives. But not everyone was on board. Geilana, enraged by Kilian's influence over her husband and her loss of power, had Kilian murdered.

But the legacy of Kilian’s call to virtue carries on. Fifty years after his death, the people of Franconia built Würzburg Cathedral on the spot where he died as a testament to his virtuous life.

We all have a constant call to return to virtue. But how do we do it?

No man or woman is born virtuous. Good habits are not infused. Virtue must be sought out and can be acquired only by continual practice. You learn to ride a bicycle by riding a bicycle. You learn to play baseball by playing baseball. You learn to be patient by practicing patience. You become virtuous by practicing virtue.

The only way for our lives to genuinely improve is by acquiring virtue. To grow in virtue is to improve as a person.

What virtue will you grow in today?


I will return to virtue.

This reflection is brought to you from book title.

Feast Day: July 8

Feast Day Shared By: Blessed Eugene III

Patron Saint of: Sufferers of Rheumatism

Also Known As: Saint Cillian

Symbols: Wearing a Bishop's Mitre and Wielding a Sword

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