St. Ansgar, Archbishop of Hamburg and Bremen,
Enlightener of Denmark and Sweden
(Also ANSKAR; German/English OSCAR)
Born in Picardy, St. Ansgar (c. 801-854) was the
apostle to the Scandinavians. He was educated at Corbie,
a Benedictine monastery, and taught at Corvey, a daughter
house in Westphalia. Louis I the Pious had at that time
allied himself with Harald of Denmark in a dynastic
dispute on the condition that Harald and his country become Christian.
When Louis sought a missionary, Archbishop Ebbo of Rheims
and Abbot Wala of Corvey recommended Ansgar. His mission began c. 826
in Schleswig and ended the following year with Harald's defeat.
Bjorn of Sweden later permitted Ansgar to preach in Sweden,
where he established the first church in Scandinavia at
Louis named Ansgar first bishop of Hamburg in 831, and the following year,
Gregory IV appointed him papal legate to the Scandinavians. The Swedish
mission collapsed in 845, after Vikings destroyed Hamburg. Appointed
Archbishop of Bremen in 851, Ansgar renewed his missionary work
and converted Haarik II of Sweden. Ansgar did as much as he could
to alleviate the harsh conditions of the Viking slave trade. He also
Pope Nicholas I canonized Ansgar shortly after his death.
His successor in the see of Bremen was
Karen Rae Keck
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