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Bishop Willigis

Bischof Willigis in der Klosterschule
Nach dem Gemalde von Lindenschmitt

     In the year 1000 there was a very pious priest in Mayence called Bishop Willigis. He was only the son of a poor wheel-wright, but by his perseverance and his own merit he had attained to the dignity of first priest of the kingdom. The honest citizens of Mayence loved and honoured the worthy divine, although they did not altogether like having to bow down to one who had been brought up in a simple cottage like themselves.

     The bishop once reproved them in gentle tones for thinking too much of mere descent. This vexed the supercilious citizens, and one night they determined to play Willigis a trick. They took some chalk and drew enormous wheels on all the doors of his house.

     Early next morning as the bishop was going to mass, he noticed the scoffers' malicious work. He stood silently looking at the wheels, the chaplain by his side expecting every moment that the reverend prelate would burst forth in a terrible rage. But a gay smile spread over the bishop's features, and ordering a painter to be sent to him, he told him to paint white wheels on a scarlet back-ground, visible to every eye, just where the chalk wheels had been drawn, and underneath to paint the words, "Willigis! Willigis! just think what you have risen from." But he did not stop there. He ordered the wheel-wright to make him a plough-wheel, and caused it to be placed over his couch in memory of his extraction.

     Thereafter the scoffers were put to silence, and the people of Mayence began to honour and esteem their worthy bishop, who, though he had been so exalted, possessed such honest common-sense.

     White wheels on a red ground have been the arms of the Bishops of Mayence ever since.

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