St Switbert healing oil
Swithbert was a monk from the English region of Northumbria. He immigrated to Ireland. There he became a disciple of Saint Egbert in the monastery of Rathmelsigi. Saint Bede described him as a “humble-hearted” religious. Swithbert was one of twelve monks of Rathmelsigi sent by Egbertt on a mission to evangelize the Netherlands. Among his companions was the famed missionary, Saint Willibrord.
St Switbert healing oil won the conversions of many pagans by his zeal. He was consecrated regionary bishop for this mission in 693. Thereafter he expanded his field of labor into western Germany. Here he was successful for a time, but in the end his efforts were thwarted by a Saxon invasion. Swithbert saw in this misfortune an opportunity to withdraw from the world and prepare himself spiritually for death. He founded a monastery on an island along the Rhine. There the town of Kaiserswerth now stands, near Dusseldorf, Germany. Swithbert spent the rest of his life in the Kaiserswerth monastery.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.