Memorial of St. Godfrey of Cappenberg, O. Praem.

Godfrey of Cappenberg

Godfrey of Cappenberg

(c. 1097, January 13, 1127)


  • Crown = Royalty
  • Scull = Desire for martyrdom
  • Medieval castle of Cappenberg

Having been born in 1097 from the lineage of the Counts of Cappenberg, Godfrey married Jutta, the daughter of the Count of Arnsberg.

In a quarrel between the bishop of Münster and the emperor, Godfrey sided with the bishop. When Münster was harassed and destroyed in 1121, Godfrey was deeply disillusioned, partly on account of the behavior of his own soldiers. He then decided to turn his castle into a monastery. He and his brother Otto met Norbert of Xanten in the same year, and Godfrey was deeply impressed by the apostolic life preached and lived by Norbert.

In the beginning his wife and brothers were opposed to his intentions, but on May 31, 1122, Godfrey gave Norbert his castle at Cappenberg. This was the first foundation of the order in Germany. Additional monasteries were founded on Godfrey’s properties in Varlar and Ilbenstadt. Neither of the brothers, however, could enter “their monasteries” until 1124 because they first had to fulfill their military duties—and, in Godfrey’s case, obtain the consent of his wife Jutta. She later entered the monastery of canonesses in the lower monastery in Cappenberg. Godfrey stayed for a time in Cappenberg where he founded a hospital for the poor and served the poorest with great humility.

When Norbert became archbishop of Magdeburg in 1126, he called Godfrey to his side. Finding it difficult to acclimate himself to life at the episcopal court, Godfrey became ill. With the approval of Norbert he went to his abbey in Ilbenstadt. Godfrey died on January 13, 1127, just a few days after his arrival. He was not yet 30 years old. After his death, his relics were divided between the monasteries of Ilbenstadt and Cappenberg.

Pope Paul V approved his veneration at Cappenberg in 1614, and Pope Benedict XIII extended it to the whole order on March 8, 1728. Following the difficult times of secularization, the bishop of Mainz began promoting the veneration of Godfrey again in 1862.

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Date(s) - Thursday January 14, 2021
All day


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