Swithbert, a monk
from the English region of Northumbria, immigrated to Ireland, where he became a disciple
of Saint Egbert
in the monastery of Rathmelsigi. Described by his contemporary Saint Bede
as a "humble-hearted" religious, Swithbert was one of twelve monks of Rathmelsigi sent by Egbert
on a mission to evangelize the Netherlands. Among his companions was the famed missionary, Saint Willibrord. After winning the conversions of many pagans by his zeal, Swithbert was consecrated regionary bishop
for this mission in 693. Thereafter he expanded his field of labor into western Germany. Here he was successful for a time, but in the end his efforts were thwarted by a Saxon invasion. Swithbert saw in this misfortune an opportunity to withdraw from the world and prepare himself spiritually for death. He founded a monastery on an island along the Rhine, where the town of Kaiserswerth now stands, near Dusseldorf, Germany. Swithbert spent the rest of his life
in the Kaiserswerth monastery.