Archive for April, 2009

Echternach

photo_lg_luxembourgEchternach is a commune with city status in the canton of Echternach, which is part of the district of Grevenmacher, in eastern Luxembourg. Echternach lies near the border with Germany, and is the oldest town (current population 4,610) in Luxembourg.

It grew around the walls of the Abbey of Echternach, which was founded in 698 by St. Willibrord, an English monk of Ripon, who became the first bishop of Utrecht and worked to Christianize the Frisians. As bishop, he directed the monastery as abbot until his death in 739. It is in his honour that the dancing procession takes place annually on Whit Tuesday.

The River Sauer that flows past the town now forms the border between Luxembourg and Germany, but in the later Roman Empire and under the Merovingians this was not a marcher land at all. The Roman villa at Echternach (traces of it were rediscovered in 1975) which was part of the see of Trier (now in Germany) was presented to Willibrord by Irmina (Irmine), daughter of Dagobert II, king of the Franks. Other parts of the Merovingian’s Roman inheritance were presented to the Abbey by Pepin.

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