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Ancient See of Vexiö

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(WEPIONENSIS.)

The Ancient See of Vexiö, in Sweden, comprised the County of Kronoberg and the hundreds of Ostra, Westra, Östbo, and Westbo in the County of Jönköping. John Sigfrid, an Englishman from Northumbria, who had been court bishop to King Olaf Tryggvasson from 977 to 1000, left Norway for Sweden in 1002 and worked six years in Westergötland (see ANCIENT SEE OF SKARA). About 1008 he arrived at Vexiö, and with great success preached Christianity to the heathens of Varend. He built a wooden church at Vexiö and remained there till his death about 1030. In 1158 he was canonized by Adrian IV and his shrine was, till the Reformation, the glory of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and St. Sigfrid at Vexiö. He had no immediate successors and in 1126 King Sigurd Jorsalafarer of Norway led a crusade to Smaaland to Christianize its inhabitants. Varend was included in the Diocese of Skara until 1100, when it formed part of the Diocese of Linköping . About 1150 the Diocese of Vexiö was re-erected. The first bishop was Stenar, who is mentioned in two letters dating from 1183. In 1191 he quarrelled with the Bishop of Linköping concerning the frontiers of their respective dioceses. Stenar was succeeded in 1193 by John Ehrengisleson. In 1205 the biography of St. Sigfrid was written. Bishop Gregory (about 1241), or his successor, renewed the boundary dispute with the Bishop of Linköping, which was settled by the pope in 1248 or 1249. Bishop Bo (1287-91) appealed in a dispute to the Archbishop of Lund, which was regarded as an insult to the Archbishop of Upsala. Conflict was averted by Bo's death and a declaration of obedience to the Archbishop of Upsala, issued by the chapter of Vexiö. The most famous of the later bishops was Nicholas Ragwaldi (1426-38), present at the Council of Basle , and in 1438 translated to Upsala. The last Catholic bishop was Ingemar Petri ( consecrated 1495), who, by judicious concessions, remained at Vexiö until his death in 1530. He took no part in episcopal consecrations during Gustavus I's reign. The chapter of Vexiö consisted of dean, archdeacon, subdean, and eleven prebendaries. There was also a schoolmaster. The cathedral was burnt down in 1740 and rebuilt in 1755. There were apparently no religious houses in the diocese.

[ Note: The feast of St. Sigfrid, first Bishop of Vexiö and Apostle of Sweden, is 15 February.]

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