Saturday, August 13, 2022

Willibrord: Apostle to the Frisians

Willibrord (ca 658-739) is known as the “Apostle to the Frisians” of northwest Germania (today’s northeast Holland and northwest Germany). Willibrord is born in northern Britannia in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. As a young adult he travels to Hibernia to study at an Anglo-Saxon monastery (678-690). Egbert (639-729), his teacher, chooses him and others in response to a request for missionaries made by Pepin 2nd (635-714). At this time Pepin is Latin Christian leader of the Franks and new tentative ruler of the Frisians. Once in Frisia, Willibrord successfully starts numerous churches and monastic communities. In 716 the Olympian Redbad (ca 648-719, r. >680), traditional ruler of the Frisians, reasserts his control and orders church leaders killed and church buildings torched. Following his death, Willibrord returns to Frisia with Boniface under the protection of Pepin’s son Charles Martel (“the Hammer”) (ca 688-741, r. >715).