Ansgar was born of a noble family near Amiens. He became a monk at Old Corbie monastery in Picardy and later at New Corbie in Westphalia. He accompanied King Harold to Denmark when the exiled King returned to his native land and engaged in missionary work there. Ansgar's success caused King Bjorn of Sweden to invite him to that country, and he built the first Christian Church in Sweden. He became Abbot of New Corbie and first Archbishop of Hamburg about 831, and Pope Gregory IV appointed him Legate to the Scandinavian countries. He labored at his missionary works for the next fourteen years but saw all he had accomplished destroyed when invading pagan Northmen in 845 destroyed Hamburg and overran the Scandinavian countries, which lapsed into paganism. He was appointed first Archbishop of Bremen about 848, and the See was united with that of Hamburg by Pope Nicholas I. Ansgar again returned to Denmark and Sweden in 854 and resumed his missionary activities, converting Erik, King of Jutland. Ansgar's success was due to his great preaching ability, the austerity and holiness of his life, and the miracles he is reputed to have performed. Though called "the Apostle of the North" and the first Christian missionary in Scandinavia, the whole area lapsed into paganism again after his death at Bremen on February 3rd. His name is also spelled Anskar.
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By Justin Soutar
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