Saint Kilian, or Cillian, Kilianus, was an Irish missionary Bishop and the Apostle of Franconia
In older Irish sources, such as the 9th century necrology at Wurzburg and the notice by Hrabanus Maurus in his martyrology, Saint Kilian was born to two parents of noble heritage near Mullagh, County Cavan, Ireland. He was educated in Rosscarbery (the school of Ross) in County Cork and completed it in Tuosist in County Kerry. He was a monk in the celebrated monastery at Hy (Iona in later records). In 686, Saint Kilian and eleven companions traveled to Rome through Gaul to receive missionary faculties from the Pope. They arrived in Rome and met with Pope Conon in the late Autumn of that year.
After receiving their faculties from the Pope, the group travelled together to the castle of Wurzburg. At the time, many in Gaul were still Pagan and the inhabitant of the castle, Duke Gozbert of East Frankia, was a pagan as well. It was here at Wurzburg that the twelve men seperated with several leaving to expand their missionary activities. Saint Kilian remained alongside a priest named Colman and a deacon named Totnan and set his base of missionary activities at the castle. By spending much of his initial time sharing the Gospel to the people of the town Saint Filian was able to convert Duke Gozbert and a large amount of his subjects to Christianity.
Tragedy was soon on the horizon. Duke Gozbert married his brother's widow, a woman by the name of Geilana. Geilana had not herself converted to Christianity and had a large amount of distrust of the Priest and growing number of Christians. When she heard that Saint Kilian had advised her husband, Duke Gozbert, that the marriage was in violation of sacred scripture, she flew in to a rage. She ordered her soldiers into the main square of Wurzburg where Saint Kilian and his two companions were preaching to have them killed. All three were beheaded by the soldiers in the square on July 8th, 689 AD.
Saint Burchard, the first bishop of Wurzburg and appointee of Saint Boniface, built a cathedral on top of the spot in which Saint Kilian had been martyred. Their relics were unearthed and buried in the vault of the Cathedral and their skulls are removed from the crypt, paraded through the streets and placed on display in Wurzburg Cathedral each year on Saint Kilian's day. For two weeks in July each year the people of Wurzburg Germany celebrate the Kilani-Volksfest. Saint Kilian's feast day is celebrated on July 8th.