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St. Anskar

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Feastday: February 3
Birth: 801
Death: 865

Born in Picardy, St. Anskar 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 Anskar. His mission began c. 826 in Schleswig and ended the following year with Harald's defeat. Bjorn of Sweden later permitted Anskar to preach in Sweden, where he established the first church in Scandinavia at Björnskö. Louis named Anskar 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, Anskar renewed his missionary work and converted Haarik II of Sweden. Anskar did as much as he could to alleviate the harsh conditions of the Viking slave trade. He also founded hospitals. Nicholas I canonized Anskar shortly after his death.


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