Anskar

ansgar) (801-865. “Apostle of the North.” Frankish-born, at the age of five he was placed in the Benedictine monastery at Corbie where he remained until 822, when he was transferred as master of the daughter school at Corvey in Saxony. About four years later he and a colleague went to Denmark, where a few important Christian converts seem to have been made, and established a small wooden church at Hedeby. By 829, however, he had returned to the Frankish court when there arrived from Björn of Sweden a request for help. With a fellow monk, Witmar, Anskar again went north, to the trading center of Birka, where a bishopric was established under Simeon-Gauzbert. In 831 he became archbishop of Hamburg, which post he held until his death despite the disruptive plunder of the city by Horik in 845. Anskar maintained his interest in Birka, and when Simeon- Gauzbert was driven out by his own Frankish people, Anskar spent two years in the diocese from 852 under the protection of Horik. On his way he again visited Hedeby. Schleswig along with Hamburg and Bremen (he had assumed pastoral oversight also of the latter see in 847) remained the area of his movements until he died-not by the martyrdom he sought. He was buried in St. Peter's Church, Bremen.

Anskar is sometimes considered to have failed, since Christianity was not firmly established in Scandinavia at his death, yet a major factor in his relative accomplishments is that no stable dynasty had been formed in any of the nation-states there. But foundations had been laid, and Christianity was officially to come within a century with the conversion of Harald (“Bluetooth”) Gormsen (c.940-86).

See St. Rimbert, Anskar, the Apostle of the North, 801-865 (ET by C.H. Robinson, 1921).