After this, a priest who came from Spain to St. Benedict’s and stayed there asked permission of Abbot Petronax to go to Rome. When the permission was asked Petronax without hesitation begged Willibald to accompany him and take him to St. Peter’s. He gave his consent at once and promised to fulfil the mission. So they set out, and when they came to Rome and entered the basilica of St. Peter they asked the protection of the heavenly keeper of the keys and commended themselves to his kindly patronage.

Then the sacred Pontiff of the Apostolic See, Gregory III, hearing that the venerable man Willibald was there, sent for him to come into his presence. And when he came to the Supreme Pontiff he fell down at once on his face to the ground and greeted him. And immediately that pious Shepherd of the People began to question him about the details of his journey and asked him earnestly how he had spent seven years travelling to the ends of the earth and how he had contrived to escape for so long a time the wickedness of the pagans.

Jerusalem and Holy Sion

Then the active servant of Christ humbly recounted to the glorious Ruler of the People all the details of his travels as they occurred. He told him how he had passed from place to place, how he had visited Bethlehem and prayed in the birthplace of his heavenly Creator, how he had seen where Christ was baptized in the river Jordan and had himself bathed there. He described his four visits to Jerusalem and Holy Sion, where our Holy Saviour had hung on the cross, was killed and buried and then ascended into heaven from Mount Olivet. All these things he told him and described.

After they had discussed these matters during a pleasant and intimate conversation, the sacred and holy Pontiff intimated to Willibald in a serious and unmistakable tone that St. Boniface had asked him to arrange for Willibald to leave St. Benedict’s and [174] come to him without delay in the country of the Franks. And after the Apostolic Lord, Pope Gregory III, had made known to him the desires of St. Boniface, he tried to persuade him, now with peaceable words of exhortation, now pleading, now commanding, to go to St. Boniface. Then the illustrious athlete of God, Willibald, promised that he would carry into immediate effect the request and command of the Pontiff provided he could ask permission, according to the prescriptions of the Rule, from his abbot.

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