Willibrord

658-739. Anglo-Saxon missionary and “Apostle to the Frisians.” Born in Northumbria, Willibrord was educated at the monastery of Ripon, near York, headed by Wilfrid.* In his twenties he went to Ireland, where he became enthusiastic about becoming a missionary; his mentor, the Anglo- Saxon monk Egbert* (active in trying to influence the Irish Church to join the Anglo-Saxon Church* in recognizing papal direction) suggested Frisia, where Wilfrid had already briefly preached in 677. Frankish power had just expanded northward, under Pepin of Heristal, to include the commercially important southern edge of Frisia (which at that time included the coastal regions from Schleswig south to Flanders). In 690 Willibrord and eleven companions sailed across the Channel to Frankish Frisia, were greeted by Pepin, and began missionary work. At thirty-seven Willibrord went to Rome in 695, to be made archbishop of a new Frankish church province to be centered at Utrecht. He established the famed monastery of Echternach, in Luxembourg, and supervised a vigorous mission effort, which gained much success in the area under Frankish control. The N Frisian counterattack after Pepin's death, led by the pagan Radbod, halted progress temporarily (715-19); but under Charles Martel the Franks regained S Frisia. Aided by Boniface,* Willibrord continued working with the Frisians, and much of the Frankish-controlled region was Christianized by the time of his death. Boniface carried on his work.

See G. Huelin, St. Willibrord and His Society (1960).