Archbishop of Mainz, d. 23 Feb., 1011. Feast, 23 February or 18 April. Though of humble birth he received a good education, and through the influence of Bishop Volkold of Meissen entered the service of Otto I, and after 971 figured as chancellor of Germany. Otto II in 975 made him Archbishop of Mainz and Archchancellor of the Empire, in which capacity he did valuable service to the State. Hauch (Kirchengesch. Deutschlands, III, Leipzig, 1906, 414) calls him an ideal bishop of the tenth century. Well educated himself, he demanded solid learning in his clergy. He was known as a good and fluent speaker. In March, 975, he received the pallium from Benedict VII and was named Primate of Germany. As such, on Christmas, 983, he crowned Otto III at Aachen, and in June, 1002, performed the coronation of Henry II at Mainz; he presided at the Synod of Frankfort, 1007, at which thirty-five bishops signed the Bull of John XVIII for the erection of the Diocese of Bamberg. He always stood in friendly relations with Rome (“Katholik”, 1911, 142). In 996 he was in the retinue of Otto III on his journey to Italy, assisted at the consecration of Gregory V and at the synod convened a few days later. In this synod Willigis strongly urged the return of St. Adalbert to Prague, which diocese was a suffragan of Mainz. Willigis had probably consecrated the first bishop, Thietmar (January, 976), at Brumath in Alsace (Hauch, III, 193), and had consecrated St. Adalbert. The latter, unable to bear the opposition to his labours, left his diocese and was, after much correspondence between the Holy See and Willigis, forced to return.
In 997 Gregory V sent the decrees of a synod of Pavia to Willigis, “his vicar”, for publication. These friendly relations were somewhat disturbed by the dispute of Willigis with the Bishop of Hildesheim about jurisdiction in the convent at Gundersheim. The convent was originally situated at Brunshausen in the Diocese of Hildesheim, but was transferred to Gundersheim, within the limits of Mainz. Both bishops claimed jurisdiction. After much correspondence and several synods Pope Silvester declared in favour of Hildesheim. When this sentence was about to be published at a synod of Pohlde (22 June, 1001), Willigis, who was there, left in great excitement in spite of the remonstrances of the delegate, who then placed the sentence of suspension on the archbishop. Formal opposition to Rome was not intended, but if Willigis committed any fault in the matter he publicly rectified all by a declaration at Gundersheim on 5 Jan., 1007, when he resigned all claims to the Bishop of Hildesheim (Katholik, loc. cit., p. 145). In his diocese he laboured by building bridges, constructing roads, and fostering art. In Mainz he built a cathedral and consecrated it on 29 Aug., 1009, in honour of St. Martin, but on the same day it was destroyed by fire; he greatly helped the restoration of the old Church of St. Victor and built that of St. Stephen. He also built a church at Brunnen, in Nassau. He showed great solicitude for the religious, and substantially aided the monasteries of Bleidenstadt, St. Disibod, and Jechaburg in Thuringia. After death he was buried in the Church of St. Stephen.
MANN, Lives of the Popes, IV (St. Louis, 1910), 372, 391, 399.
FRANCIS MERSHMAN (Catholic Encyclopedia)