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ANSKAR 

he Apostle of the North 



BY 



CHARLES H. ROBINSON, D.D. 



S.P.G. 



Lives of early and mediaeval 
missionaries. 

General Editor of series, C. H. Robinson, D.D. 



ALREADY PUBLISHED. 

ANSKAR the Apostle of the North, 

801-865, 
by Charles H. Robinson, D.D. 



IN PREPARATION. 

WILLIBRORD, 
by Alexander Grieve, D.Phil. 

(Willibrord was a native of Northumbria and worked as 
missionary in Holland from 692 to 738). 

WILLEHAD, 
by Eleanor J. B. Reid, B.A. 

(Willehad 730-789, was a native of Northumbria and 
worked as a missionary in Holland and Saxony.) 



ANSKAR 

The Apostle of the North. 801-865. 



Translated from the Vita Anskarii by Bishop Rimbert 
his fellow missionary and successor. 



BY 
CHARLES H. ROBINSON, D.D. 



I (* S a o <? 
.^, a I 



THE SOCIETY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL 

IN FOREIGN PARTS. 

1921, 



BX 

700 
i a 




Introduction to Series. 

The series entitled " Lives of early and mediaeval 
missionaries " is designed to include the lives of the best 
known pioneer missionaries to whose labours the conversion 
of Europe to the Christian faith was due. Within recent 
years biographies of a large number of modern missionaries 
have been published, but, with hardly an exception, no 
attempt has been made to provide English readers with 
biographical sketches of the missionaries who worked in 
Europe between the fourth and the twelfth centuries. 
This fact is the more surprising, inasmuch as, in many 
cases, biographies exist which were written by con 
temporaries and which, though they were not written from 
a modern critical standpoint, nevertheless enable us to 
apprehend the conditions under which the Gospel was first 
preached to the various nations of Europe, while at the 
same time they throw light upon the missionary problems 
which their successors in the Mission Field of to-day are 
called upon to solve. 

It is proposed that the biographies issued in this series 
should consist of translations of the earliest existing lives 
of the selected missionaries with introductions which will 
enable readers to appreciate the historical value to be 
attached to the original biographies, and the conditions 
under which the work of the missionaries was undertaken . 

References are not infrequently made to the hardships 
which missionaries were called upon to endure, especially 
during the first half of the nineteenth century, a century 
which witnessed a great expansion of missionary activity, 
but we are apt to forget the perils, the hardships and the 

5 



6 INTRODUCTION TO SERIES 

discouragements which constituted the normal experience 
of their predecessors. These earlier missionaries threaded 
their way through trackless forests, braved starvation and 
want amidst hostile tribes, were persecuted, tormented and 
oppressed : nevertheless their faith failed not, and, though 
the Churches which they helped to establish and the 
Christian communities which they created were sometimes 
destroyed as the result of wars and political convulsions, 
they bequeathed to us as an imperishable gift an example 
of heroism, endurance and faith. 

In reading the lives of these early and mediaeval 
missionaries we need constantly to remember that the 
standard by which we should judge the success or failure 
of missionaries, alike in ancient and modern times, is not 
supplied by the visible and immediate results that can be 
registered, but by the opportunities which they afforded 
to the inhabitants of non-Christian lands to see in them 
the embodiment of Christian ideals and to behold a real 
though incomplete reproduction of the life of Jesus Christ. 

The story of the conversion of Europe (limited and 
incomplete as it has been) would form, if it could be 
adequately told, the most wonderful and inspiring volume 
which, apart from the Bible, has ever been written. It is 
in the hope that its glory and inspiration may in some faint 
measure be discerned that this series of missionary 
biographies has been planned. 

C. H. R. 



Introduction. 

When one of Anskar s followers suggested to him that 
he could work miracles he replied, " Were I worthy of 
such a favour from my God, I would ask that He would 
grant to me this one miracle, that by His grace He would 
make of me a good man." No one can read the " Life " 
written by Rimbert his disciple and successor which, after 
being lost for five hundred years, was fortunately redis 
covered, without feeling moved to thank God for the 
accomplishment of the miracle for which Anskar had 
prayed. He was a good man in the best and truest sense 
of the term. In the character presented to us by his 
biographer we have a singularly attractive combination of 
transparent humility, unflinching courage, complete self- 
devotion, and unwavering belief in a loving and overruling 
providence. The claim to the title Apostle of the 
North, which was early made on his behalf, rests not 
upon the immediate outcome of his labours, but upon the 
inspiring example which he bequeathed to those who were 
moved to follow in his steps. For whilst the Missions 
which he planted in Denmark and Sweden during the 
thirty-three years of his episcopate were interrupted after 
his death by the desolating raids of the Northmen, those 
by whom the work was restarted gratefully recognised him 
as their pioneer. 

The Life of Anskar, written by his companion and 
successor Bishop Rimbert, which we have here translated, 
contains nearly all that is known of his life and work. A 
brief summary of what is told us by Bishop Rimbert, 
supplemented by the information that can be derived from 
other sources, will serve as an introduction to a study of 
his work. 

The Emperor Charlemagne, who died on January 28, 
814, had waged a series of seventeen campaigns extending 
over thirty-three years (772-805) against the Saxons, his 



8 INTRODUCTION 

avowed object being to compel them to accept the Christian 
faith. In order to accomplish this end he denounced the 
penalty of death against all who refused to be baptized 
and threatened the same punishment against those who, 
in despite of Christian custom, ate flesh during Lent. 
His campaigns were conducted with great cruelty, and on 
one occasion he massacred in a single day 4,500 prisoners 
surrendered to him by Witikind whom he was endeavouring 
to convert to the Christian faith. As a result of his wars 
he had effected the nominal conversion to Christianity of 
the peoples inhabiting the country as far east as the River 
Elbe, and had included their territories within his 
dominions. The Danish and Scandinavian peninsulas, 
however, remained unaffected by his influence. 

It had been his intention to make an effort to spread 
the Faith amongst the inhabitants of these lands, and with 
this object in view he had refused to allow the Church at 
Hamburg, which was in charge of a priest named Heridac, 
to be included in any of the adjacent sees, as he intended 
to establish it as an independent bishopric, in order that 
it should form a centre from which Missions to the northern 
peoples might be organised. The war in which he was 
engaged with the Danes and, subsequently, his own death 
prevented the accomplishment of this plan, but it was 
carried into effect by his son Louis the Pious. 

A dispute as to the right of succession to the crown 
having arisen in Denmark, his help was solicited by Harald 
Krag, one of the disputants, and in 822 the ambassador 
whom Louis sent to Denmark suggested the establishment 
of a Mission among the Danes. Ebo the archbishop of 
Rheims, who was the Emperor s favourite minister, was 
asked by him to organise this mission and with him was 
associated Halitgar, bishop of Cambray. 

As early as the eighth century the Danes became 
celebrated for their piratical expeditions and for their 
descents upon the coasts of England, Scotland and 
Normandy, and from the inhabitants of these countries as 
well as from their intercourse with the Franks, some 
knowledge of the Christian faith must have reached them. 



INTRODUCTION 9 

A writer in the Centuriatores Magdeburgenses* says, "Our 
Lord Jesus Christ extended His kingdom amongst the 
Danes in this wise : He urged the Danish kings to attack 
the Franks, and by them the Danes were defeated and 
slaughtered, after which by bishops and certain steadfast 
teachers He converted them to the faith. Thus Willibald, 
during the reign of Charlemagne, won for Christ a certain 
number of Danes, as Honorius has stated." Willibald 
became Bishop of Eichstadt in 742. Saxo Grammaticus 
in his history of the Danesf says that a Danish chief or 
king named Frotho VI was baptized in England and that 
he sent from England messengers to beg Pope Agapet to 
send missionaries to Denmark. The messengers however, 
died before reaching Rome. Agapet I. died in 536, and 
Agapetll.in 936,neither of which dates appears to harmonize 
with the statement of Saxo Grammaticus. Willehad 
(d. 789), who was the first bishop of Bremen, says that he 
preached to the peoples north of the River Elbe ; moreover 
a church existed at Meldorf in 776, which was afterwards 
destroyed by the Saxons. Of the missionary work 
organised by Ebo or Halitgar, practically nothing is known, 
but it would appear that as a result of their efforts the 
Danish king became favourably disposed towards Chris 
tianity. In 826 King Harald, with his wife and a large 
train of followers, visited the Emperor at Ingelheim, where 
he and his followers were baptized, and when he was about 
to return to his own land it was suggested that he should 
take with him a monk to act as priest and teacher. 

Anskar, who was born in 801, was trained in the 
monastery of Corbey near Amiens and had been transferred 
with other monks to the monastery of New Corbey near 
Hoxter on the River Weser, which was founded in 822. 
By the time of Anskar the spiritual life of the Benedictine 
monasteries had sunk very low, but the Benedictine 
monastery of Old Corbey in which he had been trained 
and which owed its origin to a colony of monks who had 



*Quoted by Kruse p. 237. 
. 178. 



io INTRODUCTION 

come from the stricter Columbanian monastery at Luxeuil, 
had preserved its early tradition unimpaired. In the new 
monastery Anskar was placed in charge of the monastic 
school and, he was also accustomed to preach to the public 
congregation. From early childhood he had seen visions 
and dreamed dreams, which created in him the desire to 
lead a religious life, and his thoughts were perhaps turned 
in the direction of missionary enterprise by the accounts 
which must have reached him of the work accomplished 
by Boniface and his successors. His definite resolve to 
devote his life to this object dated, as his biographer tells 
us, from a time immediately after the death of Charlemagne, 
when he had recently taken the tonsure and had become a 
monk. About this time he had a vision in describing which 
Anskar says, " When then I had been brought by the men 
whom I mentioned into the presence of this unending light, 
where the majesty of almighty God was revealed to me 
without need for anyone to explain, and when they and I 
had offered our united adoration, a most sweet voice, the 
sound of which was more distinct than all other sounds 
and which seemed to me to fill the whole world, came forth 
from the same divine majesty and addressed me and said, 
" Go and return to Me crowned with martyrdom." 

His biographer adds, " As a result of this vision, which 
I have described in the words which he had himself 
dictated, the servant of God was both terrified and comforted 
and in the fear of the Lord he began to live more carefully, 
to cleave day by day to good deeds, and to hope that 
by the mercy of God, in whatever way He might choose, 
he might be able to obtain the crown of martyrdom."* 
The greatest disappointment in after life which Anskar 
experienced was caused by the fact that his expectation of 
martyrdom founded on this vision was not literally fulfilled. 

In another vision, which he saw before starting on his 
missionary journey to the Swedes, he heard a voice which 
said to him in reply to his question, " Lord, what wilt 
Thou have me to do ?" "Go and declare the word of 

Chap. III. 



INTRODUCTION n 

God to the nations."* These visions are typical of many 
others by which Anskar s life and conduct were influenced 
from his early youth. His first vision came to him when 
he was only five years old.f 

When then the name of Anskar was suggested by Wala 
the Abbot of Corbey and he was asked by the Emperor 
whether he was willing to go with the King of Denmark 
in order that he might preach the gospel to the Danish 
people, he replied that he was entirely willing, t The task 
which he proposed to undertake appeared to be so full of 
danger and difficulty that his friends and fellow-monks 
tried hard to dissuade him from his purpose and, when 
he began to make preparations for his journey, only one, 
a monk named Autbert, was found willing to act as his 
companion. 

The first two years (826-8) after his arrival in Denmark 
were not productive of great visible results, but he laid a 
foundation for subsequent missionary work by starting a 
school for the training of Danish youths who might become 
the evangelists of their own countrymen. The twelve boys 
with which the school opened were either purchased by 
Anskar or presented to him by the king. The school was 
established on the borders of Denmark at Hadeby or 
Schleswig. Two years later Harald, who had incurred 
the hostility of his subjects by his attempts to introduce 
the Christian faith, was driven from his kingdom, and 
Anskar s work was interrupted. In 829 he left the 
mission work in Denmark in charge of a monk named 
Gislema and, at the suggestion of the Emperor, undertook 
a new Mission to Sweden. 

This Mission was undertaken in response to a request 
which had been made to the Emperor Louis by some 
Swedish ambassadors who had represented to him that 
" there were many belonging to their nation who desired 
to embrace the Christian religion." At the time of which 

*Chap. IX. 

fChap. II. 

tChap. VII. 

Chap. VIII and XXIV. 



12 INTRODUCTION 

we are speaking Sweden was inhabited by two distinct 
races, both of which were of Teutonic origin, i.e., the Sveas, 
or Swedes, in the north, and the Goths in the South. 

During the eighth century the Sveas and the Goths 
were ruled by a single king. Their king, whose capital 
was Upsala, claimed divine origin as the descendant of 
Odin, and every nine years a great assembly of Sveas and 
Goths was held at this temple at which he took the lead. 
A belief in the survival of their ancestors formed part of 
the popular religion. Thus Bishop Wordsworth writes, 
" As the king was the national priest so every father of a 
family was regarded as a priest in his own household. 
Polygamy was not prohibited. The graves of the dead were 
near the houses and were places for religious worship and 
meditation. In these family howes, as they were called, 
the head of the family was wont to sit, according to custom, 
for hours together, no doubt to hold converse with the 
spirits of the departed and to look forward to the uncertain 
future. These howes were also places for games and 
athletic sports. . . . The use of the churchyard for 
festivals is clearly a relic* of this custom, which prevailed 
also in England." 

Those to whom the Swedish ambassadors referred and 
who desired that a Christian Mission should be sent to 
their country, had probably obtained some knowledge of 
Christianity from Danish or other traders who had visited 
their shores. The Emperor on receipt of their request 
appealed to the Abbot of Corbey who once again suggested 
that Anskar should be invited to undertake the new 
Mission. 

After a dangerous voyage, during which he and his 
companion Witmar were robbed by Vikings, he reached 
Birka, a port on an island in Lake Malar, now called 
Byorko, which lies about eighteen miles west of Stockholm 
and twenty-two miles south of the old city of Sigtuna 
(Signildsberg).f At this time Upsala, which was about 

*The National C. of Sweden, p. 40. 

fFor a discussion as to the position of Birka see Adam Brenru 
I. 60. 



INTRODUCTION 13 

twenty miles north of Sigtuna, was the chief centre of 
heathenism. It contained a gilded temple surrounded by 
a sacred wood on which the bodies of men and animals 
that had been sacrificed to the gods were constantly 
hanging. The temple which contained images of three of 
the national gods of Sweden, Thor, Wodan and Sicco,* 
was not destroyed till seventy years after the death of 
Anskar. Anskar was well received by King Biorn, who, 
after consulting his people, gave him permission to preach. 
He remained in Birka for two winters and then returned to 
report to the Emperor the progress that had been achieved ; 
whereupon the Emperor decided to make Hamburg a centre 
from which to develop missionary work in the north and 
arranged that Anskar should be consecrated as its bishop. 
The town of Hamburg, of which Anskar thus became the 
first archbishop, was founded by Charlemagne in 808, who 
had been about to make it the seat of a bishopric when he 
died. His scheme was carried into effect by his son Louis 
in 831 and, three years later, a charter was issued, which 
was confirmed by Pope Gregory IV. raising the see to the 
rank of an archbishopric which was to include not only 
the surrounding districts, but Iceland, Greenland, and the 
whole of Scandinavia. Anskar, who became the first 
bishop and afterwards archbishop, founded here a monastery 
and a school. In 847 it was decided at a synod held 
at Mainz that Hamburg should be attached to the bishopric 
of Bremen, and that the seat of the archbishop should be 
at Bremen. Soon after his appointment as Archbishop of 
Hamburg Anskar consecrated his nephew Gautbert as a 
bishop for Sweden. He laboured there as a missionary for 
several years, but in 845 was attacked and driven out of 
the country by the heathen. In the same year the city 
of Hamburg was attacked and pillaged by an army of 
Northmen led by Eric King of Jutland, who laid waste 
the whole country and destroyed nearly all the Christian 
churches. For several years Anskar wandered over his 
desolated diocese, till in 849 when he became Archbishop 

*See Adam Brem. Ins. Aq. XXVI, XXVII. 



14 INTRODUCTION 

of Bremen, he succeeded in winning the favour of Eric 
King of Jutland and obtained his permission to re-start 
missionary work in Denmark. He then built a church at 
Schleswig, where he had formerly established a Christian 
school. Schleswig was situated on the borders of Denmark 
and its inhabitants had frequent intercourse with the 
Christian towns of Dorstede and Hamburg. At this 
place many who were secret Christians openly professed 
their faith, and joined with the new converts in Christian 
worship. 

After Gautbert had been expelled from Sweden 
missionary work remained in abeyance for seven years, 
but in 851 Anskar sent thither a hermit named Ardgar, 
who laboured there for over ten years. In 853 Anskar, 
whose missionary zeal had been increased by another vision 
in which the late Abbot of Corbey had appeared to him 
and had told him that he was destined to carry salvation 
even unto the ends of the earth, set out once again for 
Sweden. On his arrival at Birka he found the king and 
his subjects engaged in debating how they might do honour 
to a new national deity whom they had recently recognised. 
In reply to Anskar s request that he might be allowed to 
preach the Christian faith to his people, the king decided 
that lots should be cast in the open air in order to discover 
whether it would be right to accede to his requests. The 
lots having proved to be favourable, Anskar was allowed 
to lay a proposal before a general assembly of the people, 
at which, after a long discussion, which is graphically 
described by Rimbert, it was finally decided to allow the 
Mission to continue its work. He remained in Sweden 
for over a year, and on his return to Hamburg in 854, left 
Erimbert a nephew of Gautbert in charge of the Mission. 

During his absence in Sweden the prospects of 
missionary work in Denmark became overclouded. Eric, 
King of Jutland, who had formerly supported Anskar, had 
become unpopular with his pagan subjects, and in a battle 
which lasted for three days he and nearly all his chief men 
were killed, and his one descendant, Eric II. was left as 
regent over a small portion of Jutland. His chief 



INTRODUCTION 15 

counsellor was a man named Hovi who persecuted the 
Christians and put an end to Christian worship at Schleswig, 
but in course of time Hovi was superseded and the 
Christian missions which Anskar had inaugurated were once 
more permitted to develop. Anskar moreover, received 
from the king a grant of land at Ripa in Jutland on which 
he built a second church. 

On his return to Hamburg, he devoted himself to 
ministering to the needs of his own diocese. A number 
of Christians who had been carried off as slaves by some 
of the pagan tribes in the north had escaped into 
Northalbingia (i.e., the country north of the River Elbe), 
and had either been retained as slaves or sold to other 
slave-holders. Anskar, who was greatly distressed that this 
had occurred within his own diocese, went at once to the 
chiefs who were responsible and, after an impassioned 
appeal, persuaded them to release all their captives. 

As his life drew to its close he was much distressed 
that the vision which he had seen many years before, in 
which, as he thought, it had been foretold that he would 
die a martyr s death, had not been literally fulfilled. 
Shortly before his death, however, he had another vision 
which assured him that it was through no fault of his that 
the crown of martyrdom had been withheld. At the same 
time his friends reminded him that the hardships and 
dangers which he had experienced had in effect made his 
whole life one continuous martyrdom. He died on 
February 3, 865, at the age of 64, more than half his life 
having been spent in missionary work in Denmark and 
Sweden and within the limits of his own diocese. 

His whole life was characterized by rigid discipline and 
self-denial : he wore a haircloth shirt by day and night, 
and in the earlier part of his life he measured out everything 
that he ate or drank ; he chanted a fixed number of Psalms 
morning and evening, and would also sing Psalms as he 
laboured with his hands, and chant litanies as he dressed, 
or washed his hands, and three or four times a day he 
would celebrate Mass. Of all that he received he gave at 
once a tenth part to the poor and every five years he tithed 



16 INTRODUCTION 

his income afresh. Wherever he went in his diocese he 
would eat nothing till some poor persons had been brought 
in to share his meal and during Lent he would wash their 
feet and would distribute amongst them bread and meat. 

Although his biographer attributes to him the working 
of a number of miracles, Anskar himself never claimed to 
possess this power. Adam of Bremen, referring to the 
hospital founded by Littgart at Bremen, states that Anskar 
was wont to visit it daily, and is said to have healed very 
many by his speech and by his touch.* There is no 
reason for doubting that the tradition which Adam quotes 
represents what actually occurred. 

In view of the steadily increasing use in the Mission 
Field of anointing, in order to promote the recovery of the 
sick,f it is interesting to read the reference to anointing 
which occurs in his life : " It is impossible to count the 
number of those who were healed by his prayers and by 
his anointing. For according to the statement made by 
many persons, sick people came eagerly to him, not only 
from his own diocese but from a great distance, demanding 
from him healing medicine. He, however, preferred that 
this should be kept quiet rather than that it should be 
noised abroad. "J 

Of the effect produced by his preaching, alike upon the 
rich and the poor, we read : "As the grace of God shone 
more and more in his body, his preaching had a special 
charm, though it was at times awe-inspiring, so that it 
might be clearly seen that his words were controlled by 
divine inspiration. By mingling gentleness with terror he 
would make manifest the power of God s judgment, 
whereby the Lord when He comes will show Himself 

*I. 30. plurimos dicitur verbo vel tactu sanasse. 

fFor modern instances of anointing the sick in the Mission 
Field, see Arts. "Medical Missions and the Unction of the Sick," 
by W. O. B. Allen, The East and the West" Jan. 1905 : " The 
anointing of the sick," by the Bishop in Assam, E. & W., Jan. 1914, 
and " Medical Missions," by the Bishop of Singapore," E. & W., 
Jan. 1921. 

JChap. XXXIX. 



INTRODUCTION 17 

terrible to sinners and friendly to the just. His grace of 
speech and appearance were so attractive that he inspired 
with fear the powerful and rich and still more those who 
were impenitent and shameless and whilst the common 
people embraced him as a brother, the poor with almost 
affection venerated him as a father."* 

Like St. Martin, the record of whose life exercised a 
lasting influence upon him, the visions which came to him, 
some by night and some by day, helped largely to mould 
his character and to influence his actions. During the 
earlier part of his life visions were granted to him at special 
crises, or when he was in doubt as to his course of action, 
but later on they became a normal experience. Thus we 
read, " Inasmuch as, in accordance with the teaching of 
St. Paul, his conversation was always in heaven, he, though 
on earth, was frequently enlightened by celestial revelations. 
. . . Thus it was that almost everything that was about to 
happen to him became known to him by a dream, or by 
mental enlightenment, or by an ecstatic vision. When we 
speak of mental enlightenment we think that it resembled 
that referred to in the Acts of the Apostles where it is 
written, The Spirit said to Philip/ For in the case of 
every important decision that he had to make he always 
desired to have time for consideration and he decided 
nothing rashly till, being enlightened by God s grace, he 
knew what was best to be done."f 

His reliance upon the aid which he obtained from 
visions did not, however, make him value the less the 
ordinary means of grace. He was, in the truest sense, a 
man of prayer. On more than one occasion we read in 
his biography, " being deprived of human aid he hastened, 
as his custom was, to seek for divine assistance." 

The conditions under which Anskar and his companions 
worked w r ere so different from those under which mis 
sionaries have worked in modern times that it is not 
easy to compare their methods of action with his. The fact 



*Chap. XXXVII. 
fChap. XXXVI. 



i8 INTRODUCTION 

that Anskar and his companions appealed and perhaps 
necessarily appealed in the first instance to the rulers of 
the countries to which they went, explains at once their 
initial successes and their subsequent disappointments. 

Anskar lived in an age when small regard was paid to 
conscientious objectors, whether in the sphere of religion, 
or politics, but, unlike other notable missionaries of later 
date such as Bishop Christian of Prussia, or to take a 
more notable instance Francis Xavier in India, he made 
no attempt to invoke the aid of the civil power in order 
to overcome opposition to his teaching or even to protect 
his own life. The latter missionary, whose life-long self- 
renunciation and passionate devotion to our Lord equalled 
those of Anskar, felt no scruples in seeking and obtaining 
authority from the King of Portugal to punish with death 
the makers of idols, and on many different occasions urged 
the Viceroy of India to employ force in order to hasten 
the conversion of India.* Anskar s attitude in regard to 
the use of force corresponded rather with that of Raymund 
Lull, who wrote, " They think they can conquer by force 
of arms : it seems to me that the victory can be won in 
no other way than as Thou, O Lord Christ, didst seek to 
win it, by love and prayer and self-sacrifice." 

The work which he accomplished was that of a pioneer. 
Nor can it be claimed on his behalf that the Missions 
which he founded developed by a natural process of 
expansion into National Churches. Like several of the 
greatest missionaries in later times, such as Raymund Lull, 
Henry Martyn, and Livingstone, his life was saddened by 
many disappointments and by the knowledge that the task 
which he had desired to accomplish remained at his death 
unfulfilled. Thus the author of the Chronicon Corbeiensis 
for the year 936, referring to the Christians in Sweden, 
states that the Christian religion which Anskar, Rimbert, 
Gautbert, and Nithard had preached was well nigh extinct 
and that the worship of idols prevailed. Adam of Bremen, 
referring to a period half a century or more after the death 

*c.f. History of Christian Missions, by the writer, p. 73. 



INTRODUCTION 19 

of Anskar writes, " Let it suffice us to know that up to 
this time all the kings of the Danes had been pagans, and 
amid so great changes of kingdoms or inroads of barbarians 
some small part of the Christianity that had been planted 
by Anskar had remained, the whole had not failed."* But 
though the visible results which attended his labours 
tended to disappear after his death, his work was far from 
being transitory. His zeal, his heroism, his faith, his far- 
reaching designs and above all his saintly life proved a 
help and inspiration to those who were to come after him 
and contributed not a little to the establishment of the 
Christian Church throughout Northern Europe. 

Dr. Jorgensen, one of the foremost authorities on 
Danish history, referring to the practical wisdom displayed 
by Anskar, writes, " The Mission of Anskar showed a 
hardihood and a greatness which must surprise anyone who 
imagines the Apostle of the North to have been an 
unpractical dreamer. ... He possessed a rare eloquence 
both in preaching and in common talk, so that he left on 
all men an extraordinary impression : the mighty and 
haughty were frightened by his tone of authority, the poor 
and humble looked to him as to a father, whilst his equals 
loved him as a brother. . . . What he carried out in the 
thirty-three years of his bishopric was of imperishable 
importance for those nations to which he devoted his 
efforts. The only reward that he coveted for his fatigues 
the palm of martyrdom was not to be his ; but what 
was the sorrow of the apostle ought to be the glory of the 
North, that it did not soil itself with his blood. "f 

Bishop Wordsworth writes of him,J " There can be no 
question of Anskar s saintliness, according to the standard 
of any age of Christendom. His missionary zeal and 
courage, his uncomplaining patience, his generosity, his 
austere self-discipline and his diligence in the work of his 



*See I. 54. 

fDenordiske Kirkes grundlaeggelse og forste Vdvikling, by 
A.D. Jorgensen p.p. 147, 158, 183. 

JThe National Church of Sweden by John Wordsworth, p. 65 f . 



20 INTRODUCTION 

calling were all striking features of his character/ . . . 
His relations with Ebo, who might so readily have been 
regarded as his rival, seem to have been more than friendly. 
He clearly regarded Ebo as his counsellor and inspirer. 
He evidently felt the great importance and future 
possibilities of their joint mission, and he seems to have 
done his best to leave it as a legacy to be fostered by the 
whole Church of Germany." 

Anskar was accustomed to maintain that a mission to 
a non-Christian country should be self-supporting. He 
held that a missionary ought to ask nothing of those to 
whom he ministered, but should follow the example of 
St. Paul and endeavour to support himself, by his own 
labour. 

Thus his biographer writes, " To him (Rimbert) as to 
all the other priests whom he had before appointed to live 
amongst pagans, Anskar gave strict orders that they should 
not desire nor seek to obtain the property of anyone, but 
he affectionately exhorted them that, after the example of 
the Apostle St. Paul, they should labour with their hands 
and be content with food and raiment."* 

At the same time he accepted from the Emperor and 
from Christian and non-Christian kings, and himself gave 
to his fellow missionaries whatever was needed for their 
subsistence. He also enabled and encouraged his 
missionaries to make presents by means of which friends 
and patrons amongst the heathen might be secured. 

The name Anskar may perhaps be derived from the 
old German schar meaning a shore. Its meaning would 
then be " onshore " or " ashore," There is a church in 
Hamburg dedicated to Maria den schare, the dedication of 
which may perhaps be regarded as identical with that of 
a church in Vienna which is dedicated to Maria am gestade, 
i.e. t Mary on the shore. It has also been suggested that 
the name may be derived from the old High German 
" ans " meaning God and the old High German " ger " 
or " ker," Anglo Saxon " gar " meaning " spear." 

*Chap. XXXIII finis. 



INTRODUCTION 21 

Anskar s immediate successor, who was also his 
biographer, made several missionary journeys in Denmark 
and in Sweden during the twenty-three years of his 
episcopate. In order to ransom Christians who had been 
captured by the Northmen he parted even with the gold 
and silver vessels of his church and with the horse which 
he kept for his own use. Archbishop Unmi the successor 
of Rimbert died at Birka in 936 whilst engaged in a 
missionary tour. His successor at Bremen, Adaldag, 
ordained a Dane named Odinkar as a bishop for Sweden 
and ordained a number of bishops for Denmark. 

The Life of Anskar, which is known to have been in 
existence in the time of Adam of Bremen, was lost soon 
afterwards and was rediscovered by Philip Caesar in the 
middle of the seventeenth century. Thus Baronius wrote 
in 1391,* " Rimbert, the successor of Anskar, whose 
sanctity equalled his own, committed to writing some of 
Anskar s more remarkable doings and wrote a book that 
contained his life, but, alas, we have to deplore its loss. 
All that we possess of it are the notes which Adam of Bremen 
has embodied in his Chronicle/ 

Gualdo, a monk of New Corbey, produced in 1065 
a Life of Anskar in verse composed in barbarous Latin, 
but containing hardly any information which is not found 
in Rimbert s Life. Gualdo s * Life as well as that of 
Rimbert, is printed in the Acta Sanctorum. 
Manuscripts. 

The oldest existing M.S. of Rimbert s Life of Anskar 
is the Codex Stuttgardiensis 0.32, which dates back to the 
tenth century. Dahlmann s text in the Scriptores rerum 
Germanicarum, which we have followed in our translation, 
is based on this M.S. 

The Codex Parisiensis, 1372, is of the twelfth century : 
the Codex Ambianensis, 461, is probably of the twelfth 
century : the Codex archivipublici Monasteriensis, I 228, 
which is of the twelfth century, is at Paderborn. This 
last has been largely interpolated. 

*Annales Eccles. X. p. 172. 



Bibliography. 

Vita Anskarti, auctore Rimberto. A convenient copy 
is that edited by G. Waitz in the Scriptores rerum 
German? carum, Hanover, 1884. It is also printed in the 
Acta SS. for February 3. 

Adamus Bremensis Historia Hamburgensis ecclesiae. His 
history extends from the foundation of the See of Hamburg 
in 780 to the time of Archbishop Limar 1072. Referring 
to the means whereby he had collected the materials for 
his history he writes, " Some things I have brought 
together that were scattered in various papers : I borrowed 
much from histories and much from private decrees of the 
Romans, but I learnt most from the reports of all our 
elders who possessed knowledge concerning any matter." 
Although the dates given in his history are in some cases 
incorrect, the history as a whole is of great historical value. 
The author died in 1076, see Migne PL. CXLVI, vol. 
451 ff., and Scriptores rerum Germanicarum. The 
references to Adam of Bremen in this volume are to the 
text adopted in this latter edition. 

Vita metrica by Gualdo a monk of Old Corbey written 
in 1065 in barbarous Latin verse. It contains hardly any 
information which is not found in Rimbert s Life. See 
Lambecius, Origines Hamburgenses, p. 242 ff., also Acta 
SS. Feb. 3, pp. 427-45. 

Helmoldi Chronica Slavorum. Helmold was a pupil of 
Vicelin and was born about 1125. His information in 
regard to the period in which Anskar lived is largely derived 
from Adam of Bremen and is of uncertain historical value. 
See Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum, 
pub. at Hanover, 1909. 

Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus. The author 
was born about 1150. Of his sixteen books the first nine, 
which deal with Danish and Scandinavian mythology up 
to 950, have been translated into English by O. Elton 
(1894). The remainder are historical. 



22 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 23 

Einhardi Annales, A.D. 796-829. See Scriptores rerum 
Germanicarum XLIII, Hanover, 1895. 

Origines Hamburgenses sive rerum Hamburgensium, by 
Lambecius. Hamburg, 1652. 

Svenska Kyrkans Historie 7, by Reuterdahl. (In Swedish.} 

Ansgarius oder der Anfangspunkt des Christenthums in 
Schweden von Heinrich Reuterdahl, aus dem Schwedischen 
iibersetzt, von Ernst T. Mayerhoff, Berlin, 1837. This is 
a translation of the preceding. 

St. Anschar, von Ernst Christian Kruse, Altona, 1823. 

Lebensbeschreibung des Erzbischofs Ansgar y kritisch bear- 
beitet von G. H. Klippel, Bremen, 1845. This includes 
(i) the Bull of Paschal I written in 822 addressed to Ebo 
and referring to the proposed Mission to the northern 
peoples ; (2) The decree of the Emperor Ludwig relating 
to the foundation of the archbishopric of Hamburg in 834. 
(3) The Bull of Gregory IV relating to the archbishopric 
of Hamburg. (4) The decree of Ludwig and the Bull of 
Nicholas I relating to the foundation of the monastery of 
Rameslo. (5) A letter of Pope Sergius II confirming the 
appointment of Ansgar as archbishop of Hamburg, 846. 
(6) A letter from Pope Sergius II relating to the sending of 
the pallium to Anskar, 846. (7) A letter from Nicholas I. 
relating to the union of the dioceses of Hamburg and 
Bremen, 858. (8) A letter from Nicholas I to Horic King 
of the Danes, 858. (9) The Pigmenta (i.e. prayers affixed 
to the Psalms) written by Anskar. (10) a letter addressed 
by Anskar to the bishops in Germany referring to his 
Mission to the Danes and Swedes, 865. (i i) Latin Hymns 
in honour of Anskar taken from the Breviary at Upsala. 
(12) Hymn addressed to Anskar by Archbishop Johann 
Rode, taken from the Missal of the Church at Bremen. 

Leben der Erzbischofe Anskar und Rimbert, iibersetzt 
von J. C. M. Laurent, mit einem Vorwort von J. M. 
Lappenberg, Berlin, 1856. 

Leben des II. Ansgar, Apostels von Danemark und 
Schweden und die Geschichte der Verbreitung des Chris 
tenthums in Scandinavischen Norden\ by A. Tappehorn, 
Munster, 1863. 



24 BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Leben des heiligen Ansgar, ubersetzt und mit erlauternden 
Anmerkungen und einen hymnologischen Anhange 
begleitet, von L. Dreves, Paderborn, 1864. This is the 
best and most convenient German edition of the Life of 
Anskar. It was prepared in view of the loooth anniversary 
of his death. 

Kirchengeschichte Deutchlands, by Hauck, Vol. II, 
contains an appreciation of Anskar s life and work. 

Herzog s Realencyclopcidie . See art. on Anskar by 
Michelsen. 

Zur Vita Anskarii, von E. Kunik, see Forschungen 
zur Deutchen Geschichte, vol. XIV, Gottingen, 1884. An 
essay in which the writer discusses the chronology of 
Anskar s visits to Sweden and the sites of Seeburg and 
Apulia. 

Den nordiske Kirkes grundlaeggelse . og forste udvikling 
1874-8, by A. D. Jorgensen pp. 90-171. (In Danish.) 

Ansgar und die Anfange der schleswig-holsteinischen 
Kirchengeschichte, by Hans von Schubert, Kiel, 1901. 

Die dltesten Urkunden des Erzbischof turns Hamburg- 
Bremen, by Koppmann, Hamburg, 1866. 

Das Herzogtum Schleswig, by August Sach, 3rd ed. 1907. 

Studien und Mitheilungen aus dem Benediktinerorden, 
cf Art. by Bihlmeyer, vol. XXV, p. 154 if. 1904. 

Apostles of mediceval Europe, by G. F. Maclear, 1869. 
See pp. 151-171. 

The national church of Sweden, by John Wordsworth, 
Bishop of Salisbury, 1911. 

Anschar, a story of the North, by R. J. King. Pub. 
by J. W. Parker, 1 85 1 . A story written in order to illustrate 
the customs and manners of the Swedish people, which 
embodies several incidents connected with Anskar s 
missionary adventures. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR. 



CHAPTER I. 

The sons and disciples* of the most reverend 
Father Anskar, to whom has been granted everlasting 
happiness, salute the holy fathers and brethren who 
are God s soldiers in the sacred monastery of Corbey f 
to whom special veneration and affection in the love 
of Christ are due, and they pray for the peace and 
safety of those who rule over them in the Lord. 

Having enjoyed for a long time, through God s 
favour, the services of their good pastor, and having 
been instructed by his preaching and example and 
supported by his merits and intercessions, we, who 
have now been deprived of his presence, have carefully 
considered how far we ought to grieve on our own 
account and how far we ought to give thanks on his 
behalf. For the true worshipper of God, who 
abstains from every evil deed and continues simple 
and unassuming, creates in others the assurance that 
when he is taken away he will speedily reach Him 

*The reference in chap. xxxv. to " one of us who was his 
special friend " probably applies to Rimbert the author of this 
life. Possibly he is included in the filii atque discipuli here 
mentioned. 

\i.e. Corbeja antiqua, which is situated about four miles from 
Amiens, was founded by Bathilde in 657. The first abbot was 
Theodefried, who came hither with several other monks from the 
monastery of Annegray, which had been founded by Columbanus . 
It is now in ruins. Adam of Bremen incorrectly identifies this 
Corbey with the New Corbey (Corbeja nova) on the River Weser, 
cf. Hist. Eccl. I. cap. xxxiv. 

25 



26 LIFE OF ANSKAR. 

whom he has loved with utmost devotion and to whom 
his thoughts have ever been directed. For this reason 
we believe that we ought indeed to give thanks for the 
recompense that has been granted to him ; whilst, in 
view of our own loss, we must needs pray that we who, 
as men, have been deprived of so great a pastor, may 
be found worthy to receive divine help from heaven. 
Amid the difficult circumstances in which we are 
placed we rightly perceive what we have lost, and 
understand what reason we have to grieve on our own 
behalf. Whilst he was still alive it seemed as though 
we lacked nothing, for in him we rejoiced to possess 
everything. For kings respected his holiness, the 
pastors of the churches venerated him, the clergy 
imitated him, and all the people admired him. And 
whilst all men declared him to be holy and upright, 
we, as the body of which he was the head, were 
respected and praised on account of his goodness. 
Now that we are deprived of so great a benefit we dare 
not have regard to our own merits, but we fear rather 
lest, as a result of our sins, we should be exposed to 
the teeth of wolves : for the world, which lieth in evil, 
seeks to overthrow that which is just and holy, rather 
than to build up that which is deserving of veneration. 
And the devil, who is the enemy of the human race, 
when he sees that anyone is leading a specially devout 
and religious life, endeavours the more to create 
obstacles so that he may destroy what is holy, and may 
by crafty persuasion and wicked endeavour take it 
away so that it be not imitated by others. As then 
we sigh amidst these perils, and for the time being 
are in fear of manifold evils, we know that we must 
seek the help of God whose compassion will not, we 



LIFE OF ANSKAR. 27 

believe, fail despite our un worthiness. Accordingly 
with suppliant hearts we beseech and implore your 
holiness that you will remember and deign to intercede 
before God on our behalf that His compassion fail us 
not, but that, as our most kind helper, He may drive 
all evil away from us, and be to us a refuge in tribula 
tion, and that He may not desert those who hope in 
Him. Presuming then on His mercy and placing all 
our hope in His compassion, we leave to His discretion 
what we ought to obtain for ourselves and how we 
ought hereafter to live, and with our whole heart and 
mind we praise and glorify* His grace for that He 
granted us to enjoy for a time such a patron. We 
render great thanks to your most reverend paternity 
and holiness that by your kindness and consent we 
have been thought worthy to have such a father. If 
anyone should desire to imitate his example he will 
enjoy, while upon earth, the society of heaven ; if any 
shall recall his teaching, he will be able to walk without 
failing in the way of God s commandments ; if any 
shall listen to his exhortations, he will take pains to 
guard against the snares of the enemy. 

We have decided to write down the memorials of 
this most holy father and to make known to you how 
he lived with usf and what we know concerning him, 
in order that you may, with us, praise the divine 
mercy that was manifested in this blessed man and 
that his sacred devotion may show the way of salvation 
to those who are willing to imitate him. 

*gratificamur, the Codex Ambianensis reads glorificamus. 

fThe expression " with us " (apud nos) here and in chap, vi., 
denoted that Anskar s work was done outside the Prankish Empire 
in which Corbey was situated. 



28 LIFE OF ANSKAR. 

CHAPTER II. 

His sanctity and piety tended to increase from his 
earliest youth* and at each stage in his life he tended 
to increase in holiness. For in his infancy he received 
from heaven spiritual revelations, and by the grace of 
the Lord he frequently received celestial visits which 
admonished him to turn away his thoughts from things 
on earth and to keep his whole heart open to heavenly 
influences. 

He had made known these revelations to certain of 
us who were closely associated with him on condition 
that they were declared to no one during his life time. 
Now that he is dead we have decided to insert these 
revelations in this work for the praise of God, that 
those who read may know with what great grace the 
Lord deigned to train his servant from his earliest age, 
and afterwards to render him illustrious by means of 
his meritorious actions. He used to relate that when 
he was a boy about five years old, his mother, who 
feared God and was very religious, died, and that soon 
afterward his fatherf sent him to school J to learn his 

*Anskar was born in 801 . The date September 8th sometimes 
given as his birthday was the date of the translation of his body to 
the church of St. Peter, at Bremen ; cf. Leben des heiligen Ansgar, 
by Dreves, p. 150. The actual date of his birth is unknown. 

fNothing is known for certain concerning the birthplace of 
Anskar, or the social position of his parents. Le Cointe (Annal 
Eccles. Francor. viii., p. 115) conjectures that his father was a man 
of some standing in the court of Charlemagne. In the time of 
Mabillon there was a street called after Anskar, in Foliet, a suburb 
of Corbey, and it has been suggested that this represents a tradition 
that he was born here. 

JProbably the monastery school at Corbey. In 787 Charle 
magne issued a decree Constitutio de scholis per singula episcopia 
et monasteria instituendis, ordering that schools should be started 
in connection with all cathedrals and monasteries. c.f. t Gualdo. 
" Matris Corbeiae rector Paschasius ipse 
Et pater et custos Adalardus, nobilis heros, 
Hie tuus, Ansgari, bonitate magister in omni." 



LIFE OF ANSKAR. 29 

letters. When he had taken his place he began, as 
boys of that age are wont to do, to act in a childish 
way with the boys of his own age, and to give attention 
to foolish talk and jests rather than to learning. When 
he had thus given himself up to boyish levity, he had 
a vision during the night in which he appeared to be 
in a miry and slippery place, from which he could not 
escape except with great difficulty ; beside him was a 
delightful path on which he saw a matron advancing, 
who was distinguished by her beauty and nobility, 
and was followed by many other women clothed in 
white, with whom was his mother. When he recognised 
her he wished to run to her, but he could not easily 
emerge from that miry and slippery place. When the 
women drew near to him, the one who appeared to 
be the mistress of the rest and whom he confidently 
believed to be the Holy Mary, said to him : " My son, do 
you wish to come to your mother? " and when he replied 
that he eagerly desired to do so ; she answered : " If 
you desire to share our companionship, you must flee 
from every kind of vanity, and put away childish jests 
and have regard to the seriousness of life ; for we hate 
everything that is vain and unprofitable, nor can anyone 
be with us who has delight in such things." Immedi 
ately after this vision he began to be serious and to 
avoid childish associations, and to devote himself more 
constantly to reading and meditation and other useful 
occupations, so that his companions marvelled greatly 
that his manner of life had so suddenly changed. 



30 LIFE OF ANSKAR. 

CHAPTER III. 

When later on he received from you the tonsure 
and had begun to grow up under monastic teaching* 
human weakness came upon him and the strength of 
his early resolve began to weaken. Meanwhile he 
happened to hear of the death of the most excellent 
Emperor Charlesf whom he had before seen in power 
and honour, and who, as he had heard, had governed 
the kingdom in a praiseworthy manner and with great 
prudence. The death of so great an emperor affected 
him with fear and horror, and he began to return 
to his former state of mind and to recall the words of 
admonition uttered by the holy Mother of God. 

Accordingly he put aside all levity and began to 
languish with a divinely-inspired remorse ; and, 
devoting himself wholly to the service of God, he gave 
attention to prayer, watching and fasting. By these 
virtuous exercises he became a true athlete of God, 
and, as a result of his persistent severity, the world 
became dead to him and he to the world. J 

When the Day of Pentecost came, the grace of the 
Holy Spirit, which was at this time poured forth upon 
the apostles, enlightened and refreshed his mind so 
we believe ; and the same night he saw in a vision 
that he was about to encounter sudden death when, 
in the very act of dying, he summoned to his aid the 
holy apostle Peter and the blessed John the Baptist. 
When, as it seemed to him, his soul was in the act of 
leaving his body and was taking to itself another and 

*Anskar was apparently about twelve when he entered the 
monastery, as he had been there some time before the death of 
Charlemagne. 

\i.e. Charlemagne who died January 28th, 814, aged 71. 

jc./. Gal. vi. 14. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 31 

very beautiful kind of body which was no longer 
subject to death, and from which all disquiet was 
absent, at the very moment of his death and of 
wondering surprise these two men appeared. The 
elder of the two he recognised at once, without being 
told, by his white head, his straight and thick locks, 
his ruddy face, his sad countenance, his white and 
coloured dress, and his short stature, as St. Peter. 
The other was a youth taller of stature, with flowing 
beard, brown and curly hair, lean face, and cheerful 
countenance, and was dressed in a silken robe. Him 
he knew to be St. John. These, then, stood on either 
side of him, and as his soul left his body he seemed 
to be surrounded by an unending light which filled 
the whole world. By means of this light and without 
any effort on his part, the saints mentioned above led 
him in a strange and indescribable way till they came 
to a certain place which, without making any enquiry, 
he knew to be the fire of purgatory, and here they left 
him. When he had suffered much and seemed to have 
experienced the blackest darkness and the most 
enormous pressure and choking, he was deprived of 
all memory and his only thought was how could so 
terrible a punishment exist. When he had been 
tortured here for three days, as he thought though 
the time seemed to him to be more than a thousand 
years, because of the greatness of the suffering the 
men before-mentioned returned and stood by him with 
much greater joy than before. Advancing with a yet 
more delightful progress they led him through great 
and ineffable brightness, progressing without motion 
and by no material path. To adopt his own words : 
" I saw," he said, " from afar, various ranks of saints, 



32 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

some nearer to me and some standing far from the 
east,* but looking towards it, and together praising 
Him who appeared in the east, whilst some wor 
shipped with bent heads, downcast faces and out 
stretched hands. When we had arrived at the place 
where the light rises, we beheld four-and-twenty elders, 
even as it is written in the Apocalypse, who appeared 
sitting in their seats whilst leaving abundant room for 
others to approach. They also looked with reverence 
towards the east, and offered to God unspeakable 
praises. The praises of those who sang all together 
brought to me the most delightful refreshment, but 
after I returned to my body I could by no means retain 
them in my mind. In the east, where the light rises, 
was a marvellous brightness, an unapproachable light 
of unlimited and excessive brilliance, in which was 
included every splendid colour and everything de 
lightful to the eye. All the ranks of the saints, who 
stood round rejoicing, derived their happiness there 
from. The brightness was of so great extent that I 
could see neither beginning nor end thereof. 

When I was able to look round both far and near 
amidst the unending light, I could not see what was 
within, but saw only the outside edge ; nevertheless, I 
believed that He was there concerning whom Peter 
said, " on whom the angels desire to look."f 

From Him proceeded unlimited brightness whereby 
the saints far and near were illuminated. He too was, 
in a sense, in all of them, and they in Him. He 
surrounded everything from outside ; He controlled 

*Oriens : perhaps it is here intended to denote the rising 
light. 

fl. Peter, i.i2. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 33 

and met the needs of all ; He protected them from 
above and sustained them from beneath. The sun and 
the moon afforded no light there ; neither was the 
earth nor the firmament visible. But even this 
brightness was not such as to interfere with the sight 
of those who gazed, but it was at once most pleasing 
to the eyes and brought complete satisfaction to the 
mind. When I spoke of the elders sitting I meant 
that in a certain sense they may be said to have sat. 
For there was nothing material there, nothing 
possessed any body, although there was an appearance 
as of a body which I cannot describe. The beautiful 
light round those who were sitting proceeded from 
(God) Himself and extended like a rainbow. When, 
then, I had been brought by the men whom I mentioned 
into the presence of this unending light, where the 
majesty of Almighty God was revealed to me without 
need for anyone to explain, and when they and I had 
offered our united adoration, a most sweet voice, the 
sound of which was more distinct than all other sounds, 
and which seemed to me to fill the whole world, came 
forth from the same divine majesty, and addressed me 
and said, " Go and return to Me crowned with 
martyrdom." At the sound of this voice the whole 
choir of saints who were praising God became silent 
and adored with downcast faces. I saw throughout no 
form from which these words proceeded. After 
hearing the voice I became sad, because I was 
compelled to return to the earth ; but, satisfied with 
the promise that I should return, I turned to depart 
with the before-mentioned leaders. As they came and 
returned with me they spoke not a word, but they 
looked on me with pious affection even as a mother 



34 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

looks upon her only son. Thus it was that I returned 
to the body. In going and returning I experienced 
no difficulty or delay, because we arrived at once at the 
place to which we went. Though I seem to have told 
something of the greatest of all delights, I confess that 
the pen can in no way express all of which the mind 
is conscious. Nor is the mind conscious of what 
actually existed, for that was revealed to me which eye 
has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the 
heart of man."* 

As a result of this vision, which I have described 
in the words which he had himself dictated, the 
servant of God was both terrified and comforted, and 
in the fear of the Lord he began to live more carefully, 
to cleave day by day to good deeds, and to hope that 
by the mercy of God, in whatever way He might choose, 
he might be able to obtain the crown of martyrdom, f 

Though the threatening sword did not bring about 
the martyrdom of his body, we shall more fully explain, 
when we come to speak of his death, how this promise 
was, by God s mercy, fulfilled by his death upon the 
cross which he ever bore about in his body for the 
honour of Christ s name. 

CHAPTER IV. 

Later on, when he had become the master of the 
school dedicated to St. Peter, as he went and returned 
to its door it was his custom to pray earnestly and in 
secret in the oratory of St. John the Baptist. Two 
years after the vision mentioned above, he had a vision 

*I Cor. ii. 9. 

\c.f. Cap. XL. and XLII. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 

in the night in which he thought that he had turned 
into the oratory in order to pray, and when he had risen 
from prayer a man came through the door who was 
tall, dressed according to Jewish custom, and of 
handsome appearance. From his eyes a divine lustre 
radiated like unto a flame of fire. When he beheld 
Him he cast aside all hesitancy and, believing that it 
was the Lord Christ, he ran forward and fell at His 
feet. As he lay prostrate on his face He (the Lord 
Christ) commanded him to rise. When he had risen 
and was standing reverently before Him he could not 
gaze upon His face for the glorious light that flashed 
from His eyes. With a soothing voice He addressed 
him and said : " Declare thine iniquities in order that 
thou mayest be justified," to Whom God s servant 
replied, " Lord, why must I tell Thee ? Thou 
knowest all and nothing is hid from Thee." He 
replied again : " I know all, but I will that men should 
confess their faults to Me in order that they may 
receive forgiveness." When he had declared to Him 
everything that he had done since his earliest youth, 
and had then prostrated himself in prayer, He (the 
Christ) stood erect before him and said : " Fear not, 
for I am He that blotteth out thy iniquities," after 
which saying, the figure whom he had seen in his 
vision retired. The man of God rose from his sleep, 
and, strengthened by the assurance that his sins had 
been forgiven, rejoiced with exceeding joy. 

CHAPTER V. 

It happened at this time, as you well know, that a 
certain youth in the school named Fulbert, was struck 
by one of his companions with a piece of wood, and 



36 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

was brought to the point of death. The before- 
mentioned servant of God was greatly distressed at 
this, because such carelessness had occurred amongst 
those under his control and whilst he was acting as 
master. When the hour of the boy s death drew nigh 
he was lying on a couch, overcome by sleep, when he 
saw in a dream the boy s soul withdrawn from his 
body and carried by angel ministers to heaven, and 
in a strange and indescribable way he was allowed by 
God to accompany the boy s soul. When they had 
passed into heaven he saw the soul of the boy taken 
into a shining dwelling and placed amongst the ranks 
of the martyrs. He was moreover given to understand 
that, inasmuch as the boy had borne the wound 
inflicted upon him with patience, and had loved his 
brother s soul even unto death, and had prayed 
earnestly on behalf of his assailant, his patience and 
goodness had been rewarded by God, and he had been 
placed amongst the martyr bands. 

This revelation was made to him so quickly at the 
hour of the boy s death that while he was still waiting 
the venerable father Witmar* who at that time shared 
with him the superintendence of the school, and was 
present and witnessed this occurrence, roused him and 
told him of the death of his pupil, whereupon he 
answered that he already knew of it. The Lord s 
grace permitted him to see this vision in order that he 
might be consoled and in order that, in view of his 
exceeding sorrow, the boy s salvation might lighten his 
distress. 

*Witmar accompanied Anskar on his first missionary journey 
to Sweden (cap. x.) and later on became Prior of the Corbey 
monastery. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 37 

CHAPTER VI. 

By these and many other revelations and visions 
the man of God was divinely strengthened, and of the 
increase of his sanctity and goodness you have still 
better proof provided by eye witnesses. We, who 
desire to tell of what has happened in our midst,* must 
first enquire for the benefit of those who may chance 
to be ignorant, how he came to leave his secured 
position, j- and by what impulse and force of circum 
stances, after dedicating himself to God in your 
presence and promising to render obedience, he came 
to these parts and was raised to the office of a bishop 
in our midst. We have thought that it was necessary 
to write this for fear lest anyone should attribute to 
fickleness the task which the man of God undertook 
for the saving of souls, moved by divine compassion 
and by a desire to go to foreign parts. There was 
built in former times in this part of Saxony the 
monastery which was first founded by your authority 
and direction J and, having by God s help been com 
pleted at a later time, was called New Corbey, the 

*c.f. Cap I., note p. 27. 

fQua occasione a loco stabilitatis suae hue secesserit. Under 
the Benedictine rule every monk took the vows of poverty, chastity 
and obedience, and in addition he took an oath of stabilitas loci, 
that is he promised that he would not leave the monastery into 
which he had been received without a special dispensation. 

\i.e. Under the direction of the abbot Adelard. 

The monastery of New Corbey (sometimes called Corvey), 
had been planned by Charlemagne, and after his death was built 
at the instigation of his successor Ludwig in the Sollinger Wald. 
It was founded in 816, Adelhard being its first abbot. The 
original building was injured by an earthquake in 819, and in 821 
the site was moved to the right bank of the River Weser, in 
Westphalia, and was refounded here on August 25th, 822. In the 
same year Anskar, Witmar and other monks were sent thither 
from Old Corbey, and Adelard became the abbot of both 
monasteries. 



38 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

name having been adapted from your own dwelling 
place. To this place then, God s servant was first sent 
in company with other brethren in order that he might 
perform the office of a teacher. In this task he was 
found so commendable and agreeable that, by the 
choice of all, he was appointed to preach the word of 
God to the people in church. So it came about that 
in this same place he became the first master of the 
school and teacher of the people. 

CHAPTER VII. 

After this it happened that a king named Harald,* 
who ruled over some of the Danes, was assailed by 
hatred and malignity, and was driven from his kingdom 
by the other kings of the same province. 

He came to his serene majesty the emperor Ludovic 
and asked that he might be thought worthy to receive 
his help so that he might be able to regain his kingdom. 
While the emperor kept him at his court he urged him, 
by personal persuasion and through the instrumentality 
of others, to accept the Christian faith, because there 
would then be a more intimate friendship between them, 
and a Christian people would more readily come to his 
aid and to the aid of his friends if both peoples were 
worshippers of the same God. At length, by the 
assistance of divine grace, he brought about his con 
version, and when he had been sprinkled with the holy 
water of baptism he himself received him from the 

*i.e. Harald Klak. With his brother Reginfred he had 
conquered Jutland, but was attacked by Olaf and Horic, the sons 
of Gottrik, in a battle in which Reginfred was killed. Later on 
he became the ruler of South Jutland, that is Schleswig. A little 
later, on being attacked again by Olaf, he appealed for help to 
Ludovic. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 39 

sacred font and adopted him as his son.* When, then, 
he desired to send him back to his own land in order 
that he might, by his assistance, seek to recover his 
dominions, he began to make diligent enquiry in order 
that he might find a holy and devoted man who could 
go and continue with him, and who might strengthen 
him and his people, and by teaching the doctrine of 
salvation might induce them to receive the faith of the 
Lord. At a public gathering of his chief men, at which 
their priests and other good men were present, the 
emperor referred to this matter and earnestly begged 
all of them to find someone who would volunteer for 
this difficult and honourable task. When they refused 
and said that they knew of no one who was possessed 
of so great devotion as to be willing to undertake this 
dangerous journey for the name of Christ, Wala, who 
was at that time the much respected abbot of our 
monastery ,f stood forth and said to the emperor that 
he knew a monk in his monastery J who burned with 
zeal for true religion and was eager to endure suffering 

*Theganus in his Vita Hludovici (c. 33) writes, " The 
Emperor was in his palace at Ingilheim when Harald came to him 
from the Danes, and he (the Emperor), raised him from the sacred 
baptismal font whilst the Empress Judith raised his wife. Then 
the Emperor gave him a large part of Frisia, and having honoured 
him with many gifts, he sent him and his messengers away in 
peace." Nigellus (Carmina Lib. III. v. 317) says that Harald s 
wife and son and 400 Danes who had come with him were 
baptised at the same time. 

Adam Brem. (I. 15) says that his wife and brother and a great 
multitude of the Danes were baptised ; see also Ann Fuld, 826. 

fHe became Abbot of Corbey in 826, and died in 836, c.f. Vita 
Walae abbatis Corbejensis, Mabillon Saec. iv. Pt. I., p. 453. 

JThe expression " his monastery " can only apply to the 
original monastery of Corbey. It would appear, therefore, that 
Anskar had returned thither from New Corbey. As he seems to 
have been within call, it is possible that he had come with Wala to 
Ingelheim as one of his attendants. 

D 



4 o LIFE OF ANSKAR 

for the name of God. He declared, however, that he 
did not know whether he would be willing to undertake 
this journey. Why say more? At the king s command 
Anskar was summoned to the palace, and the abbot 
explained to him everything that had been done, and 
told the reason for his being summoned. He replied 
that as an obedient monk he was ready to serve God 
in all things that were commanded him. He was then 
brought into the presence of the emperor, who asked 
him whether on God s behalf and for the sake of 
preaching the gospel amongst the Danish peoples, he 
would become the companion of Harald, whereupon 
he replied that he was entirely willing. When the 
abbot had further stated that he would by no means 
impose this upon him as a command, but if of his own 
free will he chose to do it he would be pleased and 
would give him his authoritative consent, he replied 
that he none the less chose the task and desired by all 
means to carry it through. When at length this was 
publicly announced, and it became known to all who 
lived in the abbot s house, many began to express 
astonishment at his strength of purpose and his willing 
ness to abandon his country and his acquaintances 
and the love of the brethren with whom he had been 
brought up, and to visit foreign nations and hold 
intercourse with unknown and barbarous peoples. 
Many also deprecated his action, and assailed him 
with reproaches, whilst some endeavoured to divert 
him from his purpose, but the man of God continued 
steadfast in his resolve. When the abbot went, day 
by day, to the palace, he remained at home and 
avoided the society of all men and, choosing for 
himself a lonely spot in a neighbouring vineyard, he 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 41 

devoted his time to prayer and to reading. There 
was at that time with the abbot a certain brother 
belonging to our monastery named Autbertus. When 
Autbertus saw that he was anxious and distressed and 
that each day he kept himself apart and did not 
associate or speak with anyone, he began to feel pity 
for him, and on a certain day he went to the place 
where he was sitting by himself in the vineyard and 
asked him whether he really desired to undertake this 
journey. Anskar, who hoped that this enquiry was 
not prompted by compassion, but was made with some 
further object, replied : " Why is this a matter of 
concern to you ? Do not disturb me by making such 
an enquiry." He declared that he was making no 
pretence, but that he really desired to know whether 
he proposed to continue in the purpose which he had 
formed. Then Anskar thanked him for his kindness, 
and said, " I am asked whether I am willing on 
God s behalf to go to pagan nations in order to preach 
the gospel. So far from daring to oppose this 
suggestion I desire, with all my strength, that the 
opportunity for going may be granted to me, and that 
no one may be able to divert me from this design." 

Then the brother before-mentioned said to him : 
" I will never suffer you to go alone, but I desire, 
for the love of God, to go with you, provided only 
that you can obtain the consent of the lord abbot." 
When, then, they had ratified their agreement, Anskar 
presented himself to the abbot on his return to the 
monastery, and explained to him that he had found a 
companion who, of his own free will, desired to share 
his journey. When the abbot asked who it was, and 
he mentioned the brother Autbertus, he was greatly 



42 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

astonished, as he had never imagined that he, who 
belonged to a noble family and was his intimate friend, 
and was regarded as the chief administrator of 
the monastery after himself, would be willing to 
undertake such a task. Nevertheless, he summoned 
him and questioned him concerning the matter. He 
replied that he could not bear that Anskar should go 
alone, but that for the name of Christ he desired to 
become his comforter and helper, should he obtain the 
consent of the abbot and of the brethren. The abbot 
replied that he would give his consent if of his own 
free will he chose to undertake this journey, but that 
he would not depute anyone in his house to act as a 
servant unless he could be induced to go voluntarily. 
The venerable abbot did not act thus through any 
lack of regard for Anskar, but because at that time 
it seemed to him to be abhorrent and wrong that any 
one should be compelled against his will to live 
amongst pagans. The two monks were subsequently 
brought before the king, who was gratified by their 
willingness and desire to undertake this task, and 
who gave them whatever was necessary for the 
performance of their ministerial functions,* also 
writing cases, tents and other things that would 
be helpful and which seemed likely to be needed 
on their great journey. He bade them go with 
Harald and commanded them to devote the utmost 
care to his profession of faith and by their godly 
exhortations to confirm in the faith both Harald and 
his companions who had been baptized together with 
him, for fear lest at the instigation of the devil they 
should return to their former errors, and at the same 

*Ministeria ecclesiastica. Kruse (p. 256), suggests that this 
expression would include lay-brothers and choir boys. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 43 

time by their preaching to urge others to accept the 
Christian religion. Having been then dismissed by 
the emperor they had none to render them any menial 
service, as no one in the abbot s household would go 
with them of his own accord, and he would compel 
no one to go against his will. Harald, to whom they 
had been committed, was as yet ignorant and untaught 
in the faith, and was unaware how God s servants ought 
to behave. Moreover, his companions who had been 
but recently converted and had been trained in a very 
different faith, paid them little attention. Having 
started then with considerable difficulty they arrived 
at Cologne. At that time there was a venerable bishop 
there named Hadebald. He had compassion upon 
their needs and presented them with a good boat in 
which they might place their possessions and in which 
there were two cabins which had been suitably prepared 
for them. When Harald saw the boat he decided to 
remain with them in it, so that he and they 
could each have a cabin. This tended to promote an 
increase of friendship and goodwill between them ; 
his companions also, from this time forward, paid 
careful attention to their wants. 

On leaving the boat they passed through Dorstadt* 
and crossing the neighbouring territory of the Frisians 
came to the Danish borders. As King Harald could 
not for the time being obtain peaceful possession of his 
kingdom, the emperor gave him a place beyond the River 
Elbef so that if it were necessary he might halt there. 

*i.e. Wijik te Duerstede, near Utrecht. Willibrord and 
Boniface had both preached here. 

fSee Chap. XXII. p. 76, where "ultra Albiam " apparently 
means * south instead of as here " north " of the Elbe . The exact 
locality is uncertain. Langebeck (I p. 439) maintains that it was 
in Holstein ; Dahlmann (of Pertz II., p. 696), and Tappelhorn 
(p. 100), place it in Friesland. 



44 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Accordingly the servants of God, who were with 
him, and who were stationed at one time amongst 
Christians and at other times amongst pagans, began 
to apply themselves to the word of God ; and those 
whom they could influence they directed into the way 
of truth, so that many were converted to the faith by 
their example and teaching, and the number of those 
who should be saved in the Lord increased daily. 
They themselves, being inspired by divine love, in 
order to spread their holy religion, made diligent 
search for boys whom they might endeavour to 
educate for the service of God. Harald also gave 
some of his own household to be educated by them ; 
and so it came about that in a short time they established 
a school for twelve or more boys.* Others they took 
as servants or helpers, and their reputation and the 
religion which they preached in God s name were 
spread abroad. After they had spent two yearsf or 
more in this good work brother Autbertus became 
grievously afflicted with illness, and on this account he 
was carried to New Corbey where, as his weakness 
increased day by day, at Easter time even as it had 
been before revealed to him by the Lord he ended 
his life, passing away happily, as we believe. 



*For site of this school see chap. xxiv. note p. 83. 

\c.f. Adam Brem. I. 16. Itaque biennium in regnoDanorum 
commorati multos ex gentibus ad fidem converterunt Christianam. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 45 

CHAPTER IX. 

Meanwhile* it happened that Swedish ambassadors 
had come to the Emperor Ludovic, and, amongst other 
matters which they had been ordered to bring to the 
attention of the emperor, they informed him that there 
were many belonging to their nation who desired to 
embrace the Christian religion, and that their king so 
far favoured this suggestion that he would permit 
God s priests to reside there, provided that they might 
be deemed worthy of such a favour and that the 
emperor would send them suitable preachers. When 
the God-fearing emperor heard this he was greatly 
delighted, and a second time he endeavoured to find men 
whom he might send to those districts, who might 
discover whether this people was prepared to accept the 
faith, as the ambassadors had assured him, and might 
begin to inculcate the observance of the Christian 
religion. So it came about that his serene majesty began 
once again to discuss the matter with your abbot, and 
asked him whether by chance he could find one of his 
monks who, for the name of Christ, was willing to go 
into those parts ; or who would go and stay with Harald 
while God s servant Anskar, who was with him, 
undertook this mission. Thus it was that Anskar was 
summoned by royal command to the palace, and was 
told that he should not even stop to shavef himself 
before coming into the royal presence. The man of 
God, who knew clearly beforehand for what purpose 
he was being summoned, burned with fervour and 
with love tow r ards God and esteemed it a special joy 

*i.e. In 829. 

fDreves (p. 34), suggests that the reference is not to shaving 
his beard but to the renewal of the tonsure. 



46 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

if he might be allowed to press forward in the work of 
winning souls for Him. If in a journey of this kind 
any harm or misfortune should befall him, he was 
resolved to bear it patiently for Christ s sake ; and he 
had no hesitation in undertaking this task, as he was 
comforted by the heavenly vision which he had 
previously seen. At the time to which we refer, when 
he was staying with you and had already been divinely 
enlightened by two visions* it seemed to him one 
night that he had come to a house in which were 
standing many preachers who had been prepared for 
their task of preaching. In their presence he was 
suddenly transported, and he saw shining around him 
a light from heaven which excelled the brightness of 
the sun ; and, as he marvelled what this might be, a 
voice like unto that which he declared that he had 
heard in his first vision said to him : " Thy sin is 
forgiven." In answer to which voice, being, as we 
believe, divinely inspired, he said : " Lord, what wilt 
thou have me to do ? " Again the voice was heard 
saying : " Go, and declare the word of God unto the 
nations." As God s servant thought upon this vision 
he rejoiced in the Lord greatly, for he perceived that 
what had been commanded him was in part 
accomplished, and desired to add to his labours by 
preaching the word of God to the Swedes. When, then, 
he was brought into the presence of the emperor and 
was asked by him whether he was willing to undertake 
this mission, he replied readily that he was prepared 
to undertake any task wliich the emperor might decide 
to place upon him for the name of Christ. 

*c.f. chap. III. and IV. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 47 

CHAPTER X. 

In the good providence of God the venerable abbot* 
found for him amongst your fraternity a companion, 
namely the priorf Witmar, who was both worthy and 
willing to undertake this great task. He further 
arranged that the good father Gislemar, a man 
approved by faith and good works, and by his fervent 
zeal for God, should be with Harald. Anskar then 
undertook the mission committed to him by the 
emperor, who desired that he should go to the Swedes 
and discover whether this people was prepared to 
accept the faith as their messengers had declared. 
How great and serious were the calamities which he 
suffered while engaged in this mission, father Witmar, 
who himself shared them, can best tell.J It ma Y 
suffice for me to say that while they were in the midst 
of their journey they fell into the hands of pirates. 
The merchants with whom they were travelling 
defended themselves vigorously and for a time success 
fully, but eventually they were conquered and overcome 
by the pirates, who took from them their ships and all 
that they possessed, whilst they themselves barely 
escaped on foot to land. They lost here the royal 
gifts which they should have delivered there, together 
with all their other possessions, save only what they 
were able to take and carry with them as they left the 
ship. They were plundered, moreover, of nearly forty 
books which they had accumulated for the service of 

*i.e. Wala. 

fin the Benedictine Rule the word nonnus is used to denote 
prior, c.f. chap. v. note p. 36. 

JThis statement affords an incidental proof that Rimbert s 
Life of Anskar must have been written soon after his death, i.e., 
while one of his fellow workers was still living. 



48 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

God. When this happened some were disposed to 
turn and go back, but no argument could divert God s 
servant from the journey which he had undertaken. 
On the contrary, he submitted everything that might 
happen to him to God s will, and was by no means 
disposed to return till, by God s help, he could ascertain 
whether he would be allowed to preach the gospel in 
those parts. 

CHAPTER XI. 

With great difficulty they accomplished their long 
journey on foot, traversing also the intervening seas, 
where it was possible, by ship, and eventually arrived 
at the Swedish port called Birka.* 

They were kindly received here by the king, who 
was called Biorn,f whose messengers had informed him 
of the reason for which they had come. When he 
understood the object of their mission, and had dis 
cussed the matter with his friends, with the approval 
and consent of all he granted them permission to 
remain there and to preach the gospel of Christ, and 
offered liberty to any who desired it to accept their 
teaching. Accordingly the servants of God, when they 
saw that matters had turned out propitiously as they 
had desired, began eagerly to preach the word of 
salvation to the people of that place. There were 
many who were well disposed towards their mission 
and who willingly listened to the teaching of the Lord. 

*Birka was the ancient port of Sigtuna. For a description 
of the idolatrous customs of the inhabitants of this district, see 
Tacitus, Germ. 45. Adam Bremensis (.62) says that he saw the 
town in ruins. The name is preserved to-day in the island 
Bjorko. 

t*.. Biorn II. a son of Eric I. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 49 

There were also many Christians who were held captive 
amongst them, and who rejoiced that now at last they 
were able to participate in the divine mysteries. It 
was thus made clear that everything was as their 
messengers had declared to the emperor, and some of 
them desired earnestly to receive the grace of baptism. 
These included the prefect of this town named Herigar, 
who was a counsellor of the king and much beloved 
by him. He received the gift of holy baptism and was 
strengthened in the Catholic faith. A little later he 
built a church on his own ancestral property and 
served God with the utmost devotion. Several 
remarkable deeds were accomplished by this man who 
afforded many proofs of his invincible faith, as we shall 
make clear in the following narrative.* 



CHAPTER XII. 

When the servants of God had spent another half 
yearj* witrrthem and had attained the object of their 
mission they returned to the emperor and took with 
them letters written by the king himself in characters 
fashioned after the Swedish custom. J They were 
received with great honour and goodwill by the 
emperor, to whom they narrated all that the Lord 
had wrought by them, and how in those parts the 
door of faith was opened by which these nations were 
bidden to enter. When the most pious emperor heard 
this, he rejoiced greatly. And as he recalled the 

*See chap. xix. 

t*.e. Altogether a year and a half. 

I Dahlmann suggests that the reference is to Runic characters 
c.f., chap. xxvi. 



50 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

beginning * which had been made in establishing the 
worship of God amongst the Danes, he rendered 
praise and thanks to Almighty God, and, being inflamed 
with zeal for the faith, he began to enquire by what 
means he might establish a bishop s see in the north 
within the limits of his own empire, from which the 
bishop who should be stationed there might make 
frequent journeys to the northern regions for the sake 
of preaching the gospel, and from which all these 
barbarous nations might easily and profitably receive 
the sacraments of the divine mystery. As he was 
pursuing this matter with anxious care he learnt, from 
information provided by some of his trusty companions, 
that when his father, the Emperor Charles, of glorious 
memory, had subdued the whole of Saxony by the 
sword and had subjected it to the yoke of Christ, he 
divided it into dioceses, f but did not commit to any 
bishop the furthest part of this province which lay 
beyond the river Elbe, but decided that it should be 
reserved in order that he might establish there an 
archiepiscopal see from which, with the Lord s help, 
the Christian faith might successively spread to the 
nations that lay beyond. He, accordingly, caused the 
first church that was built there to be consecrated by 
a Gallic bishop named Amalhar.J Later on he 
specially committed the care of this parish to a priest 

*Concepta. We should probably read concoepta as in the 
Codex Stuttgardiensis. 

fThe titles of these bishoprics were (i) Osnabruck, of which 
the first bishop was Wiho, a disciple of Boniface : (2) Paderborn, 
of which Hathumar was the first bishop : (3) Miinster, of which 
Liudger was the first bishop : (4) Minden : (5) Bremen, of which 
Willehad was the first bishop : (6) Verden : (7) Halberstadt. 

JAmalhar was bishop of Trier, 809-14. He was sent by 
Charlemagne in 814 to Constantinople in order to arrange a 
peace with the Emperor Michael. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 51 

named Heridac,* as he did not wish that the 
neighbouring bishops should have any authority 
over this place. He had further arranged to 
have this priest consecrated as a bishop, but his 
speedy departure from this lifej* prevented this 
being done. After the death of this much-to-be- 
remembered emperor his son Ludovic, who was 
placed on his father s throne, acting on the suggestion 
of others, divided in two that part of the province 
which lies beyond the river Elbe and entrusted it, for 
the time bring, to two neighbouring bishopsj for he 
paid no attention to the arrangement which his father 
had made in regard to this matter, or, possibly, he 
was altogether ignorant of it. When the time came 
that the faith of Christ began, by God s grace, to bear 
fruit in the lands of the Danes and Swedes, and his 
father s wish became known to him, he was unwilling 
that this wish should remain unaccomplished and, 
acting with the approval of the bishops and a largely 
attended synod, he established an archiepiscopal see 
in the town of Hamburg,! | which is situated in the 
farthest part of Saxony beyond the river Elbe. He 
desired that the whole Church of the Nordalbingi^J 
should be subject to this archbishopric, and that it 
should possess the power of appointing bishops and 

*Or Heridag. 

flit, from this light. 

ii.e. The Bishops of Verden and Bremen. 

Three synods were held in this year 831 at Aachen, Ingelheim 
and at Diedenhofen. The synod referred to was probably that 
held at the last of these places, c.f., Tappehorn, I.e. p. 108. 

HHammaburg (also written Hammabur and Hammanburg). 
It is doubtful whether this can be identified with the modern city 
of Hamburg, c.f., Tappehorn, I.e. p. 91. 

IJNordalbingia is also referred to as Saxonia transalbina. It 
included the country bounded by the Elbe, the Trave and the 
Eider. 



52 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

priests who for the name of Christ might go out into 
these districts. 

To this see, therefore, the emperor caused the holy 
Anskar, our lord and father, to be consecrated as 
archbishop by the hands of Drogo,* Bishop of Metz, 
and at that time principal chaplain at the imperial 
court. He was assisted by Ebo, Archbishop of 
Rheims ; Hetti,f of Trier and OtgarJ of Mainz, 
whilst many other bishops who had gathered 
for the imperial assembly were present. The bishops 
Helmgaud and Willerick,|| from whom Anskar took 
over the above-mentioned parts of this ecclesiastical 
district, approved and took part in his consecration. 

Inasmuch as this diocese was situated in dangerous 
regions, and it was to be feared that it might come to 
an end in consequence of the savagery of the barbarians 
by which it was threatened, and because its area was 
small, the emperor handed over to his representatives 
a monastery in Gaul, called Turholt,U to be always at 
its service. 

*Drago, or Drogo, was the fifth son of Charlemagne, and was 
born in 807. In 823 he was appointed by Ludovic as archbishop 
of Metz. He was drowned whilst fishing, in 855. 

fHetti, or Hetto, was Archbishop of Trier, 814-847. 

JOtgar was Archbishop of Mainz, 826-847. 

Bishop of Verden. 

||Willeric, or Wilderic, a pupil of Willehad, was bishop of 
Bremen, 789-839. He is referred to in the Hist. Archiep. Brem., 
as vir literatus et in omni morum honestate oraeclarus. 

m.e. Thorout in Flanders, between Bruges and Ypres. It 
was near the birthplace of Bishop Rimbert, Anskar s biographer, 
and was built by Amandus in the seventh century. 

Adam Brem. (I. 20) writes, " Saepe etiam monasterium 
Galliae, quod dono Caesaris possedit, Turholt visitans, fratrilus 
ibidem Deo militantibus salutaris regulae tramitem verbo 
exemploque monstravit. In quorum nobili contubernio jam 
turn a puero sanctus effulsit Rimbertus, quern sanctus pater 
Ansgarius adoptans in filium prophetico spiritu, quo plenus 
erat, longe ante praedixit ilium suae virtutis aemulum, et in 
cathedra pontificali succedere." 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 53 

CHAPTER XIII. 

In order that these arrangements should be 
permanently established the emperor sent Anskar to 
the apostolic see, and by his messengers the venerable 
bishops Bernold* and Ratoldf and the illustrious count 
Gerold, he caused the whole matter to be made known 
to Pope Gregory J so that it might receive his con 
firmation. The Pope confirmed this, not only by an 
authoritative decree, but also by the gift of the pallium, 
in accordance with the custom of his predecessors, and 
he appointed him as his legate for the time being 
amongst all the neighbouring races of the Swedes and 
Danes, also the Slavs and the other races that inhabited 
the regions of the north, so that he might share authority 
with Ebo the Archbishop of Rheims, to whom he had 
before entrusted the same office. || At the tomb of 

*Bishop of Strassburg. 

f Bishop of Verona, ob. 874. 

\i.e. Gregory IV., 827-844. 

The Cod. Monasteriensis reads, Farriae, Gronlondon, 
Islondon, Siridevindum, Slavorum necnon onmiurn septemtrional- 
ium et orientalium nationom quocumque modo nominatarum 
delegavit. Et posito capite et pectore super corpus et confessionem 
sancti Petri apostoli, sibi suisque successoribus vicem suam 
perpetuo retinendam publicamque euvangelizandi tribuit 
auctoritatem. 

The names mentioned must have been interpolated at a later 
time as Gronlondon, i.e., Greenland, was unknown in the time of 
Anskar. 

||Ebo was appointed as Archbishop of Rheims by Ludovic in 
8 1 6, and about the year 820 he went on a missionary visit to 
Denmark. In 821 he was sent by Ludovic to Rome and received 
from Paschal I. a special commission to preach in the northern 
territories. In 822 he returned to Denmark accompanied by 
Bishop Wilderic of Bremen, and was the means of converting a 
number of Danes. In 825 he brought about a good understanding 
between Horic and Harald, and thereby prepared the way for the 
conversion of the country. In 833 he espoused the cause of 
Lothair, and was ordered by the Emperor to retire to the 
monastery of Fulda. Later on, at the request of Anskar, he 
received the bishopric of Hildesheim. He died in 851. 



54 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

the holy apostle Peter* he publicly committed to him 
authority to evangelize these races. And, for fear lest 
anything that he had done should prove ineffectual 
in time to come, he smote with his curse any who 
should resist, or contradict, or in any way attempt to 
interfere with the holy intentions of the emperor and 
committed such an one to everlasting vengeance and 
the companionship of devils. f 

As we have already said, the same office of legate 
had before been entrusted by Pope Paschal J to Ebo, 
the Archbishop of Rheims. Ebo himself, inspired by 
the Spirit of God, burned with eager desire to draw 
to the Christian fold the non- Christian races and 
specially the Danes whom he had often seen at the 
palace and who, as he grieved to see, had been led 
astray by the wiles of the devil. In order to promote 
their salvation he longed to sacrifice himself and all 
that he possessed. The emperor had given him a 
place situated beyond the river Elbe, which was called 
Welanao, so that whenever he went into those parts 
he might have a place in which to stay. Accordingly 
he frequently went to this place and distributed much 
money in the northern districts in order that he might 
win the souls of the people ; and he attached many to 
the Christian religion and strengthened them in the 
catholic faith. 

*Ante corpus et confessionem sancti Petri. There is still 
an underground chapel in the Vatican entitled The Chapel of the 
Confession of St. Peter, under the altar of which are what are 
reputed to be the bones of the Apostle. In this chapel, Boniface 
had stood more than a century before, 723. c.f., Baronii Annales, 
ix. an. 723. 

fFor use of this form of cursing, see chap; xxiii. ad. fin. 

JPaschal I., 817-824. 

Now called Miznsterdof. On the bank of the River Sturia. 
This took its name from the monastery Novum monasterium 
(Neu-Miinster), founded by Vicelinus. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 55 

CHAPTER XIV. 

After the consecration of the holy Anskar our lord 
and father, those who shared the office of legate, 
conferred together, and decided that it was necessary 
that an assistant bishop should be consecrated who 
might exercise the episcopal office amongst the Swedes, 
inasmuch as the chief bishop could not be expected 
to be present so far away, and Anskar himself could 
not be in both places. With the consent then, and 
approval of the emperor,* the venerable Ebo sent to 
Sweden a relation of his own named Gautbertf who 
had been chosen for this work and had been given 
the honourable rank of a bishop. He supplied him 
in abundance with all that was wanted for his 
ecclesiastical office and for his necessary expenditure 
at his own cost and that of the emperor. Having 
himself undertaken, by apostolic authority, the office 
of an evangelist, he appointed Gautbert to act as 
legate on his behalf amongst the Swedes. To him, 
too, the emperor, at the suggestion of the same bishop 
Ebo, gave the monastery which he had himself built 
at Welanao, to serve as a place of refuge, in order that 
the performance of his task might be rendered 

*Cod. Amb. reads apostolica auctoritate et suggestione 
imperatoris. 

ifAlso written Gauzbert, Gozbert, Gosbert and Gosbrecht. 
Adam Brem. (Hist. Eel. xiv.) says that he was a nephew of Ebo. 

The explanation of Gautbert s appointment given by Adam of 
Bremen is somewhat different. He writes (I. 17), " Ebo of 
Rheirns was given him (by the Pope) to assist him in preaching. 
Either the fatigue of the journey proved too great for him or he 
was hindered by bodily sickness, or was engrossed in secular 
occupations, and accordingly he gave Anskar his nephew Gautbert 
to serve on his behalf." In the Narratio Clericorum Remensium 
(Bouquet VII, 278) we read, " At that time Bishop Ebo was 
staying in the monastery of St. Basil in the diocese of Rheims, 
being lame on both his feet, and afflicted with grievous sickness. * 



56 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

permanent and secure. This Gautbert, who at his 
consecration received the honoured name of the 
apostle Simeon,* went to Sweden, and was honourably 
received by the kingf and the people ; and he began, 
amidst general goodwill and approval, to build a 
church there J and to preach the faith of the gospel, 
and there was great rejoicing amongst the Christians 
who were living there, and the number of those who 
believed increased daily. 

CHAPTER XV. 

Meanwhile our lord and master diligently executed 
his office in the diocese that had been committed to 
him, and in the country of the Danes, and by the 
example of his good life he incited many to embrace 
the faith. He began also to buy Danish and Slav 
boys and to redeem some from captivity so that he 
might train them for God s service. Of these he 
kept some with him, whilst others he sent to be trained 
at the monastery of Turholt. There were also with 
him here belonging to your order some of our fathers 
and teachers, as a result of whose teaching and 
instructions the divine religion has increased amongst 
us. 

*Another instance of change of name on consecration is 
afforded by the change of Winfrid s name to Boniface : Pope 
Sergius I. in 696 gave to Willibrord the name of Clement. 

\i.e. King Biorn, c.f., chap. xi. 

ji.e. At Sigtuna, see chap, xix., note p.6sff. 

Adam of Bremen says that at this time a multitude of Danes 
and Northmen were converted as the result of Anskar s work : 
see Hist. I. 18, Beatis Anscharius nunc Danes nunc Transalbianos 
visitans, innumerabilem utriusque gentis multitudinem traxit ad 
fidem. Si quando vero persecutione barbarorum impeditus est ab 
studio praedicandi apud Turholt cum discipulis suis se retinuit. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 57 

CHAPTER XVI. 

While these events, which brought praise and 
honour to God, were taking place in both directions, 
pirates suddenly arrived and surrounded the town of 
Hamburg.* As this happened suddenly and un 
expectedly, there was no time to collect the people in 
the villages ; moreover, the count who at this time 
was prefect of the place, viz., the illustrious Bernhar, 
was absent. The bishop who was there and those who 
remained in the city and its suburbs, when the first 
news of their coming arrived, desired to hold the place 
till further help should reach them ; but when the 
country people put pressure upon him, and the town 
was already besieged, he perceived that resistance was 
impossible, and accordingly made preparations to carry 
away the sacred relics, f As for himself, when his 
clergy had been scattered and had fled in various 
directions, he with difficulty escaped without even a 
cloak} to cover his body. The people left the town 
and wandered hither and thither ; and, whilst most 
fled away, some were caught, and of these the greater 
part were killed. The enemy then seized the town 
and plundered it and its immediate neighbourhood. 
They had come in the evening and they remained that 
night and the next day and night ; and when everything 
had been burnt and destroyed they took their departure. 

*Adam Brem. states that this occurred during the last year of 
Ludovic, but the date given by Lambecius (Orig. Hamb. p. 5), 
i.e., 845, is probably correct, see also Dahlmann, Geschichte 
von Dannemark I. p. 45. 

fAdam Brem. (Hist. I. 25) says that these included the bodies 
of St. Sixtus and St. Sinnicius. 

\Caffa denoted a woollen cloak or mantle which covered the 
whole body cf. Du Cagne I. 2, 96. 



58 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

The church there, which had been built in a wonderful 
manner under the guidance of the bishop, and the 
monastery which was also of marvellous construction, 
were reduced to ashes. The bible* which the emperor 
had given to our father, and which was beautifully 
transcribed, together with many other books, was lost 
in the fire. Everything which was used in the services 
of the Church and all his treasures and possessions 
were lost by pillage or by fire during the enemy attack. 
This attack left him practically naked, as nothing had 
previously been taken away, nor was anything removed 
at the time except that which each fugitive was able 
to carry away with him. By none of these things was 
our holy father distressed, nor did he sin with his lips, 
but when in a moment of time he lost almost every 
thing that he had been able to gather together, or to 
collect for purposes of building, he repeated again and 
again the words of Jobf : " The Lord gave, the Lord 
has taken away ; the Lord s will has been done. 
Blessed be the name of the Lord." 



CHAPTER XVII. 

After these occurrences the bishop continued with 
his people in their distress and misfortune, whilst the 
brethren belonging to his Order traversed various 
districts and wandered hither and thither taking with 
them the holy relics ; and nowhere did they find rest, 

*Bibliotheca, which in classical Latin denotes a library, was 
sometimes used in later Latin to denote the liber librorum, i.e., 
the Holy Bible cf. Du Cagne I. i, 1083. 

tJob,i,2i. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 59 

owing to the devices of the wicked one.* It happened, 
too, at this time, at the instigation of the devil, that 
the Swedish people were inflamed with zeal and fury, 
and began by insidious means to persecute Bishop 
Gautbert. Thus it came about that some of the 
people, moved by a common impulse, made a sudden 
attack upon the house in which he was staying, with 
the object of destroying it ; and in their hatred of the 
Christian name they killed Nithard,f and made him, 
in our opinion, a true martyr. Gautbert himself and 
those of his companions who were present they bound, 
and after plundering everything that they could find 
in their house, they drove them from their territory 
with insults and abuse. This was not done by 
command of the king, but was brought about by a 
plot devised by the people. 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

The long suffering mercy of God did not allow 
this crime to go unavenged, but almost all who were 
present were soon afterwards punished, though in 
different ways. Concerning these much might be 
said, but, lest we should weary our readers, we mention 
the case of a single individual in order that the 
destruction which overtook him may show how the 
rest were also punished and their crimes avenged. In 

*Adam of Bremen states (Hist. i. 23), that after the destruction 
of Hamburg, Anskar fled for refuge to Leuderic, Bishop of 
Bremen, who, being envious of his reputation for learning and 
piety, refused to receive him. A devout lady named Ikia, who 
lived near Hamburg, received him and he built there a monastery 
where he received refugees from Hamburg. Later on, in 864, the 
monastery of Rameslo was placed under his jurisdiction. 

fNithard was a brother of the priest Erimbert who accom 
panied Anskar on his second journey to Sweden. 



60 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

that country there was a certain influential man whose 
son had joined with the others in this conspiracy, and 
who had collected in his father s house the booty 
which he had captured at that place. Thereafter his 
possessions began to decrease and he began to lose his 
flocks and his household possessions. The son himself 
was stricken by divine vengeance and died, and after 
a brief interval his wife, his son and his daughter also 
died. When the father saw that he had become bereft 
of all that he had possessed with the exception of one 
little son, he began, in his misery, to fear the anger of 
the gods and to imagine that he was suffering all these 
calamities because he had offended some god. There 
upon, following the local custom, he consulted a 
soothsayer and asked him to find out by the casting 
of lots which god he had offended and to explain how 
he might appease him. After performing all the 
customary ceremonies, the soothsayer said that all 
their gods were well disposed towards him, but that 
the God of the Christians was much incensed against 
him. " Christ," he said, " has ruined you. It is 
because there is something hidden in your house which 
had been consecrated to Him that all the evils that 
you have suffered have come upon you ; nor can you 
be freed from them as long as this remains in your 
house/ On hearing this he considered anxiously 
what it could be, and he remembered that his son 
had brought to his house as part of the aforementioned 
booty a certain book. On this account he was stricken 
with horror and fear, and because there was no priest 
at hand, he knew not what to do with this book, and, 
as he dared not keep it any longer in his house, he at 
length devised a plan and showed the book openly to 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 61 

the people who were in the same hamlet, and told 
them what he had suffered. When they all said that 
they knew not how to advise in regard to this matter 
and were afraid to receive or keep anything of the kind 
in their houses, he feared greatly to retain it in his 
own house, and he fastened it up carefully and tied it 
to a fence with a notice attached stating that whoever 
wished might take it. For the offence that he had 
committed he promised also to make voluntary amends 
to the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the Christians took 
the book thence and carried it to his own house. 
This we ascertained from his own statement. Later 
on he showed such faith and devotion that when with 
us he learned to say the Psalms without reading them. 
In like manner were the rest punished, either by death 
or plague, or by the loss of their property, and it was 
made manifest to all that they had received due 
punishment from our Lord Jesus Christ because they 
had presumed to outrage and plunder God s holy 
bishop and his companions. 

CHAPTER XIX. 

For nearly seven years* afterwards there was no 
priest in this place, and for this reason our lord and 
pastor Anskar was afflicted with great sorrow, and, as 
he could not bear that the Christian religion which 
had begun to be established there should perish, and 
because he grieved greatly for his dear sonf Herigar, 

*i.e. From 845 to 851. 

ffiliolo. The term son " is applied to Herigar because he 
had been baptised by Anskar. Nordfried who was one of 
Anskar s clergy is called his son : in chap. i. Rimbert and his 
fellow workers speak of themselves as sons of Anskar. Concern 
ing Herigar, Adam Brem. (I., 21) writes, Herigarius vero Bircae 
praefectus Christianitatem ibi solus sustentavit. 



62 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

whom we have already mentioned, he sent a hermit 
named Ardgar* into those parts, and specially directed 
him to attach himself to Herigar. On his arrival he 
was courteously received by Herigar and his presence 
brought great joy to the Christians who were there. 
These began again to do as they had done before, 
namely, to search diligently for the things of God and 
to observe with a willing mind the customs of the 
Christian religion. None of the unbelievers was able 
to withstand his preaching, because they remembered 
with fear the punishment that had come upon those 
who had expelled God s servants from this place. On 
the suggestion of Herigar, and with the command and 
permission of the king who was then reigning ,f he 
began to celebrate the divine mysteries in public. 
This most faithful man (Herigar) endured many 
reproaches at the hands of unbelievers during the time 
when there was no priest present there ; but by the 
help of divine grace and as a result of his prayers the 
true faith was proclaimed and accompanied by signs 
from heaven. Some of these, in accordance with our 
promisej have added to our narrative in order that 
his invincible fidelity may be made manifest. 

On one occasion he himself was sitting in an 
assembly of people , a stage having been arranged 

*Adam Brern. writes Hardgar. 

fThe words imply that Biorn II. (c.f. chap, xi.), was no longer 
reigning. In this case the king referred to was probably Anound 
(or Emund), who had endeavoured with the help of the Danes 
to recover his former kingdom. He was a brother of Biorn II. 

%c.f. Chap. xi. finis. 

Councils called " things " which were summoned to decide 
on public policy or to settle private disputes were held in the open 
air or in a large tent constructed out of the branches and foliage 
of trees. In the middle of the site was placed the " thing stone," 
on which the king or president sat. c.f., Dreves, Leben des 
heiligen Ansgar, p. 63 n. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 63 

for a council on an open plain. In the course of a 
general discussion some praised their own gods, by 
whose favour they had secured great prosperity, 
whilst others heaped reproaches upon him because he 
alone, by accepting a worthless creed, had separated 
himself from them all. He then, being fervent in 
spirit, is said to have replied, " If there be so great 
uncertainty in regard to the divine majesty, which 
nevertheless ought not to be called in doubt by anyone, 
let us prove by miracles who is the more powerful, 
the many beings whom ye call your gods or my one 
Almighty Lord Jesus Christ. See, rain is at hand," 
a shower was then imminent " call upon the names 
of your gods and ask that no rain fall upon you, and 
I will ask my Lord Jesus Christ that not a drop of 
rain may touch me, and he who on this occasion has 
regard to those who call upon him let him be God." 
This was mutually agreed, and as all the rest sat on 
one side, he and one small boy sat on the other side, 
and each of them began to invoke his own god, whilst 
he invoked the Lord Christ. Thereupon a great 
stream of rain descended, and they were so completely 
soaked that it seemed as though they and their garments 
had been thrown into a river. Even the foliage from 
the branches with which their meeting place had been 
constructed, fell upon them and thereby proved to 
them that it was by divine power that they were 
overcome. On himself and the boy who was with him, 
not a single drop fell. When this happened they were 
confused and astonished. " Ye see," said Herigar, 
" who is God. Do not, unhappy men, try to draw 
me away from His worship, but rather be confounded 



64 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

and, renouncing your errors, learn the way of truth."* 
On another occasion it happened that Herigar was 
suffering great pain in his leg, so that it was impossible 
for him to move out of his place except when he was 
carried. When he had endured this distress for some 
time, many persons came to visit him, some of whom 
urged him to sacrifice to the gods in order to regain 
his health, whilst others assailed him with jeers, 
saying that his illness was due to the fact that he had 
no god. When this had occurred on several occasions 
and he had strenuously resisted their evil suggestions, 
and when at length he could no longer bear their 
reproaches, he replied that he would not seek aid from 
vain images but from his Lord Jesus Christ who, if 
He wished, could cure him in a moment of his sickness. 
He then summoned his servants and told them to carry 
him to his church. When he had been placed there 
he poured out his supplications to the Lord in the 
presence of all the bystanders and said : " My Lord 
Jesus Christ grant to me thy servant now my former 
health in order that these unhappy men may know 
that Thou art the only God and that there is none 
beside Thee, and in order that my enemies may behold 
the great things that Thou doest, and may turn in 
confusion from their errors and be converted to the 
knowledge of Thy name. Accomplish, I beseech 
Thee, that which I ask for the sake of Thy holy name, 
which is blessed for evermore, that they who believe 
in Thee may not be confounded, O Lord." Having 

*Kruse, in commenting upon this and the two following 
incidents, maintains that Rimbert himself knew that they were 
due to natural causes, but being a monk, and writing for credulous 
readers left his readers to interpret them as miraculous 
occurrences, c.f., St. Anschar, p. 130 f. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 65 

said this he was forthwith healed by the grace of God, 
and was made completely well. He, accordingly, left 
the church unaided and rendered thanks to God for 
his health, and, strengthened in the faith of Christ, he 
more and more confounded those who disbelieved. 

About the same time it happened that a certain 
Swedish king named Anoundus had been driven from 
his kingdom, and was an exile amongst the Danes. 
Desiring to regain what had once been his kingdom > 
he sought aid of them and promised that if they would 
follow him they would be able to secure much treasure. 
He offered them Birka, the town already mentioned > 
because it contained many rich merchants, and a large 
amount of goods and money. He promised to lead 
them to this place where, without much loss to their 
army, they might gain that which they wanted. 
Enticed by the promised gifts and eager to acquire 
treasure, they filled twenty-one ships with men ready 
for battle and placed them at his disposal ; moreover 
he had eleven of his own ships. These left Denmark 
and came unexpectedly upon the above mentioned 
town. It so happened that the king* of the town was 
absent and the chiefs and people were unable to meet 
together. Only Herigar, the prefect of this place, was 
present with the merchants and people who remained 
there. Being in great difficulty they fled to a 
neighbouring townf and began to promise and offer 
to their gods, who were demons, many vows and 
sacrifices in order that by their help they might be 
preserved in so great a peril. But inasmuch as the 
town was not strong and there were few to offer 

*i.e. Biorn. 
f*.. Sigtuna. 



66 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

resistance, they sent messengers to the Danes and asked 
for friendship and alliance. The king* before- 
mentioned commanded them to pay a hundred pounds 
of silver in order to redeem Birka and obtain peace. 
They forthwith sent the amount asked and it was 
received by the king. The Danes resented this 
agreement, because it was not in accord with their 
arrangement and they wanted to make a sudden attack 
upon them and to pillage and burn the place because 
they said that each individual merchant in the place 
had more than had been offered to them and they 
could not endure that such a trick should be played 
upon them. As they were discussing this and were 
preparing to destroy the town to which the others had 
fled, their design became known to those in the town. 
They gathered together then, a second time and, as 
they possessed no power of resistance and had no hope 
of securing refuge, they exhorted one another to make 
vows and to offer greater sacrifices to their own gods. 
Herigar, the faithful servant of the Lord, was angry 
with them and said, " Your vows and sacrifices to 
idols are accursed by God. How long will ye serve 
devils and injure and impoverish yourselves by your 
useless vows. You have made many offerings and 
more vows and have given a hundred pounds of silver. 
What benefit has it been to you ? See, your enemies 
are coming to destroy all that you have. They will 
lead away your wives and sons as captives, they will 
burn your city and townf and will destroy you with 
the sword. Of what advantage are your idols to you " ? 
As he said this they were all terrified and, as they knew 

*i.e. Anoundus. 

t.. Sigtuna and Birka. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 67 

not what to do, they replied all together : " It is for 
you to devise plans for our safety, and whatever you 
suggest we will not fail to perform." He replied : " If 
you desire to make vows, vow and perform your vows 
to the Lord God omnipotent, who reigns in heaven, 
and whom I serve with a pure conscience and a true 
faith. He is Lord of all, and all things are subject 
to His will, nor can anyone resist His decree. If 
then ye will seek His help with your whole heart ye 
shall perceive that His omnipotent power will not fail 
you." They accepted his advice and in accordance 
with custom, they all went out of their own accord to 
a plain where they promised the Lord Christ to fast 
and to give alms in order to secure their deliverance. 
Meanwhile the king proposed to the Danes that they 
should enquire by casting lots whether it was the will 
of the gods that this place should be ravaged by them. 
" There are there," he said, " many great and powerful 
gods,* and in former time a churchf was built there, 
and there are many Christians there who worship 
Christ, who is the strongest of the gods and can aid 
those who hope in Him, in any way that He chooses. 

We must seek to ascertain therefore whether it is 
by the will of the gods that we are urged to make this 
attempt." As his words were in accord with their 



*In Sigtuna there was a temple and an altar dedicated to 
Odin. At Upsala, which was within a day s journey of Sigtuna, 
there was a specially magnificent temple, c.f., Adam Brem. 
Descriptio Ing. Aq. xxvi. 

fi.c. The church built by Gautbert, see chap. xiv. 



68 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

custom* they could not refuse to adopt the suggestion. 
Accordingly they sought to discover the will of the 
gods by casting lots and they ascertained that it would 
be impossible to accomplish their purpose without 
endangering their own welfare and that God would 
not permit this place to be ravaged by them. They 
asked further where they should go in order to obtain 
money for themselves so that they might not have to 
return home without having gained that for which they 
had hoped. They ascertained by the casting of the 
lot that they ought to go to a certain townf which was 
situated at a distance on the borders of the lands 
belonging to the Slavonians. The Danes then, 
believing that this order had come to them from heaven, 
retired from this place and hastened to go by a direct 
route to that town. Having made a sudden attack 
upon its people, who were living in quiet and peace, 
they seized it by force of arms and, having captured 
much spoil and treasure, they returned home. More 
over the king who had come with the object of 
plundering the Swedes, made peace with them and 
restored the money that he had recently received from 
them, He remained also for some time with them as 
he wished to become reconciled to their nation. Thus 

*For reference to the custom of casting lots in order to 
ascertain the will of the gods, see Tacitus Germ. chap, x., see also 
Vita Willehadi, chap. iii. In casting lots the Danes were 
accustomed to cut a branch from a fruit-bearing tree from which 
they broke off a number of small sticks. Having cut certain 
marks on these, they placed them on a spread-out cloth. The 
priest, or chief then picked up three of these sticks and, in accord 
ance with the marks that he found on them, answered " yes " or 
" no " to the question addressed to him. 

fDreves (p. 70 n.), suggests that this may have been Bineta in 
the island of Wollin. This town was destroyed by Northmen in 
the ninth century. Kruse suggests that the town was in the 
district of Novgorod. Gesch. des Ethnischen Volksstamms, p.457 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 69 

did the good Lord, on account of the faith of his 
servant Herigar, free the people of this place from the 
attack of their enemies and restore to them their 
possessions. After these occurrences Herigar brought 
forward a proposal in a public assembly and advised 
that they should try more earnestly to ascertain who 
was God. " Alas, wretched people," he said, " ye 
now understand that it is useless to seek for help from 
demons who cannot succour those who are in trouble. 
Accept the faith of my Lord Jesus Christ, whom ye 
have proved to be the true God and who in His 
compassion has brought solace to you who have no 
refuge from sorrow. Seek not any more after super 
stitious worship, or to appease your idols by useless 
sacrifice. Worship the true God who rules all things 
in heaven and earth, submit yourselves to Him, and 
adore His almighty power. His own faith having been 
strengthened by the abounding goodness of the Lord, 
he was the more ready to come forward both publicly 
and otherwise, and at one time by reproach, at another 
time by persuasion, he declared unto them the power 
of the Lord and the benefits resulting from faith in 
Him. And thus he continued the good fight even to 
the end of his life. 

When at length his good deeds were complete and 
his weakness had increased, having been commended 
to the mercy of God in the presence of the priest 
Ardgar, and having received the Holy Communion, he 
departed this life happily in Christ.* Much more 
might be said concerning the constancy of his faith, 
but this must suffice, inasmuch as we desire our 
narrative to be brief. 

*Herigar s death apparently occurred towards the end of the 
year 851. 



70 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

CHAPTER XX. 

At that time there was amongst the Swedes a very 
pious matron, whom the frowardness of wicked men 
had been unable to turn aside from the true faith. 
It was frequently suggested to her, when she was 
placed in any difficult position, that she should, in 
accordance with their custom, offer sacrifices to idols, 
but she remained unmoved and did not abandon the 
performance of her religious duties. She declared that 
it was useless to seek for help from dumb and deaf 
images and that she thought it detestable to do again 
the things that she had renounced in her baptism* and 
to fail to perform the promise that she had made to 
Christ. If it be an evil thing to lie to men how much 
worse is it to lie to God ? And if it be a good thing 
that faith should be preserved amongst men how much 
greater is the obligation that rests upon one who 
receives the faith of the Lord to continue firm and not 
to mingle falsehood with truth ? The Lord," she 
said, " even my Jesus Christ, is omnipotent, and if I 
continue to believe in Him, He can give me health 
and everything that I need according to His good 
pleasure." This devout woman, whose name was 
Frideburg, who was deserving of praise for the good 
ness of her life and the constancy of her faith, continued 
even to old age. When she believed that the day of 
her death was approaching, and no priest had come 
there since the death of Gautbert, desiring the due 
performance of the ceremonyf which she had heard 

Candidates for baptism were called upon definitely to 
renounce Wodan and Odin, and the gods associated with them. 
c./., Dreves, 73 n. 

fCodex Ambianensis adds " sacrificii." 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 71 

was the " viaticum " of Christians, she caused some 
wine that she had bought to be reserved in a certain 
vessel.* She further requested her daughter, who was 
also a devout woman, that when her last moments 
came, as she had not the sacrifice she should drop 
some of the wine into her mouth and thus commend 
her departure to the mercy of the Lord. She kept 
this wine with her for nearly three years by which time 
the priest Ardgar had arrived there. After his 
appointment she performed her religious duties as long 
as she retained her strength, and she sought at his 
hands the customary rites and helpful admonition. 
Meanwhile weakness overtook her and she became sick. 
Being anxious, in view of her death, she caused the 
priest to be summoned, and having received from his 
hand the viaticum she departed with joy to the Lord. 
She had ever been intent on almsgiving and, as she 
was rich in this world s goods, she had enjoined her 
daughter Catlaf that, after her departure from this life, 
she should distribute all that she possessed amongst 
the poor. " And because," she said, " there are here 
but few poor, at the first opportunity that occurs after 
my death, sell all that has not been given away and go 
with the money to Dorstadt. There are there many 
churches,^ priests, and clergy, and a multitude of poor 
people. On your arrival seek out faithful persons who 
may teach you how to distribute this, and give away 

*This was apparently un consecrated wine, though Kruse 
(P- X 33) an d Klippel (p. 83), refer to it as consecrated wine that 
had been bought from a priest. 

fCodex Amb. reads Cathie. 

j According to Trithernius there were here in 856 as many as 
55 churches and chapels, but this is probably an exaggeration. 
See chap. vii. p. 43. 

For qui rite doceant we should probably read qui te doceant, 
so Codd. Parisiensis and Ambianensis. 



72 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

everything as alms for the benefit of my soul." After 
the death of her mother the daughter diligently 
accomplished everything that she had ordered. She 
took her journey to Dorstadt, and on her arrival she 
sought out some devout women who accompanied her 
to the holy places in the town and told her what to give 
to each person. On a certain day as they were visiting 
the holy places for the purpose of distributing charity, 
when half had already been distributed, she said to her 
companion, " We are already weary, we had better buy 
some wine wherewith to refresh ourselves so that we 
may accomplish the work that we have begun. She 
provided, therefore, four denarii* for this purpose, and 
having recovered their strength they finished their 
task. When it was completed and she was returning 
to her lodging, she placed the empty bag which had 
contained the money, in a certain spot, but, as a 
result of divine intervention, when she came again to 
the spot she found that the bag was as full as it had 
been before. Amazed at so great a miracle, she 
summoned the devout women who had gone with her 
and explained to them what had happened to her. 
In their presence she reckoned up the money that was 
in the bag and found that it was exactly the sum that 
she had brought thither with the exception of the four 
denarii. At their suggestion she went to the priests 
who were of repute in that place and told them what 
had happened. They rendered thanks to God for His 
great goodness, and said that the Lord had thus repaid 
her toil and her good intention. " Forasmuch," they 
said, " as you have obeyed your mother and have kept 

*c.f. y Dreves, p. 76 n. Der Denar mag ungefahr den Werth 
eines hamburger Schilling oder drei rheinischer Kreuzer gehabt 
haben. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 73 

your pledge to her unimpaired, and, by undertaking 
this toilsome journey, have accomplished her generous 
purpose, the Lord of all good, who repays and rewards, 
hath given you this in order to supply your own needs. 
He is almighty and self-sufficient and is in need of 
nothing. He will repay in His heavenly kingdom 
everything that is distributed by His faithful followers 
to supply the needs of the poor and of His servants. 
The Lord hath deigned to assure you by a miracle 
that this is so, lest you should doubt or repent having 
distributed your treasure. By this same sign be 
assured that thy mother is safe with the Lord, and, 
admonished by this miracle, fear not to give up your 
property for the sake of Christ, knowing that the Lord 
will repay you in heaven. This is God s gift to you, 
and it is for you to distribute in accordance with your 
own will. That which you have taken and use.d for 
your own purposes He would not restore, for in His 
kindness He gave back only that which out of love 
for Him had been distributed amongst the poor." 

The priest Ardgar, after the death of Herigar, 
then moved by the desire to lead a solitary life as 
he had formerly done, departed from those parts and 
sought again his own place. Thus were the Christians 
who lived here deprived once again of the presence 
of a priest. In this way it became clearly manifest 
that the hermit Ardgar had been providentially sent 
to these parts in order that he might strengthen the 
faith of Herigar and of the matron above mentioned, 
and might commend their departure to the mercy of 
God and that, in accordance with their constant desire, 
they might receive the sacrament of the Holy Com 
munion to serve as their final viaticum. 



74 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

CHAPTER XXI. 

While the events above related were occurring it 
came to pass by divine ordering that the emperor 
Ludovic, of happy memory, departed this life.* When, 
after his death, a great disturbance arose in connection 
with the division of the kingdomf the status of our 
pastor as an (imperial) delegate was weakened. For 
when the above mentioned monastery of Turholt had 
come into the possession of King Charles, he set it 
free from the servitude which his father had ordained 
and gave it to Raginar,J who is well known to you. 
On this account his brothers, the most noble kings, 
and many others also besought him frequently, but 
he refused to heed their requests, and our father began 
to be worried by many needs and distresses. Thus 
it came about that your brethren who were with him 
here at that time returned to your society and many 
others also left him on the ground of poverty. He, 
however, continued to live as he best could with the 
few who remained with him ; and, though he was very 
poor, he would not abandon the task that had been 
assigned to him. 

CHAPTER XXII. 

When the Lord beheld his humility and his patient 
courage inasmuch as the heart of the king is in the 
hand of the Lord He stirred up the mind of our most 

*He died on June zoth, 840. 

fThe division of the empire was arranged by the Peace of 
Verden in 843. 

JThere was a bishop of Amiens of this name in 844, who may 
perhaps be the person mentioned, but there is nothing to indicate 
that Raginar was a bishop. 

That is at Hamburg. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 75 

gracious lord and ruler King Ludovic, who took charge 
of the kingdom after his father s death, and incited 
him to discover how he might secure for him a com 
fortable subsistence, so that he might accomplish the 
trust committed to him. And because he possessed 
no monastery in this province suitable for this purpose 
he arranged to give him the bishopric of Bremen, which 
was near at hand and was at that time without a pastor.* 
Accordingly, at a public meeting of bishops and of his 
other faithful servantsf he discussed with them 
whether canonical law would permit of his doing this. 
For our lord and pastor, fearful lest this should prove 
dangerous to himself, and in order to guard against 
being blamed by any for covetousness, did not readily 
assent to this arrangement. By command of the king 
this matter was threshed out in the council of bishops. 
They showed by many precedents J that it could easily 
be done, inasmuch as the diocese to which he had been 
ordained was very small it had only four churches in 
which baptisms were held. Moreover, this diocese 
had been many times devastated by the incursions of 
barbarians, and on this account they urged that it 
should be joined to the diocese of Bremen in order to 
afford him relief. But in order that the Bishop of 
Verden might not suffer injury if he (Anskar) were to 

*Bishop Leuderic had died on August 24th, 845. 

fThis synod was held at Mainz in October, 847. 

J Gregory the Great had on four separate occasions joined 
two dioceses together, see Dreves, p. 81, n. 

viz. those at Hamburg, Heiligenstatten and Schonfeld in 
Holstein, and Meldorf in Ditmarsen c.f. Adam Brem. Hist, 
chap. xv. and Ixi. In addition to these there were smaller churches 
or chapels in which services would be held but in which public 
baptisms, which took place especially at Easter and Whitsuntide, 
would not be held. 



76 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

retain, in addition to the whole of the Bremen diocese, 
that part of his own diocese which lay beyond the 
river Elbe, and which had been taken away, they 
decided that, as there had been the two dioceses of 
Bremen and Verden in the time of the Emperor 
Ludovic these should be restored and that Anskar 
should keep Bremen, out of which the greater part of 
his own diocese had been taken, the diocese of Bremen 
being at that time bereft of a pastor.* 

When this decision had been confirmed by the 
bishops he undertook, at the command of the king, 
to govern the diocese of Bremen ; whilst Waldgarf the 
Bishop of Verden, took over that part of his own 
diocese which lay beyond the river Elbe. After this 
had been settled the matter was again carefully dis 
cussed in a council of bishopsj who thought that it 
was not right that the episcopal see to which he had 
been ordained should be held by another bishop for 
Hammaburg had at that time fallen to the share of 
Waldgar. They said, moreover, that it was within the 
king s rights to extend a small diocese and one which 
had been devastated, but that a place to which 
archiepiscopal rank had been attached by apostolic 
authority ought, on no account, to be transferred. 
With the approval of the most pious King Ludovic 
the bishops who were there present, unanimously 
decided that our father Anskar should receive the see 
to which he had been consecrated, and that if he 
retained any territory beyond the river Elbe that 

*c./. Adam Brem. I., chap. xxiv. 

fWaldgar, or Walter, was the successor to Bishop Hdligad, 
who died in 845. 

IThis synod was held at Mainz in October, 848, to discuss the 
doctrine of predestination. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 77 

belonged to the diocese of Verden, he should make 
restitution to the bishop of that diocese out of the 
diocese of Bremen. This was carried into effect by 
the command of the king and by the decree of the 
episcopal synod, with the approval and consent of 
Waldgar, the Bishop of Verden. 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

When these things were being done the town of 
Cologne to which the diocese of Bremen was subject, 
was at that time bereft of a bishop. And as this had 
been the case for some time, this matter had to be 
decided without the presence of a bishop of this place. 
When later on the Venerable Gunthar* had been 
consecrated as bishop of this place, our lord and father 
desired to put the matter before him so that it might 
be confirmed by his authority. Gunthar, however, 
was opposed to this scheme. For this reason, at a 
council held by the two kings Ludovic and Lothair, 
at Worms, at which there were present many bishops 
belonging to both kingdoms,! including our venerable 
father, the same matter was brought forward. When 
this decision had been universally approved they all 
asked Bishop Gunthar to confirm and sanction it. 
He was at first strenuously opposed to them, and 
declared in many words that it was not right that a 
suffragan see should be transformed into an arch 
bishopric, or that the dignity of his own see should be 
in any respect diminished. At length, however, when 
the kings and all the bishops present besought this of 

*Gunthar was consecrated on May zoth, 850. 
f Bremen belonged to the kingdom of Ludovic, and Cologne 
to that of Lothair. 



78 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

him, saying that it was lawful because it was necessary, 
he replied that he would ratify the proposal provided 
that it were supported by apostolic authority. When 
this reply had been received and all his suffragans* had 
agreed, King Ludovic, who desired to extend the 
charitable purpose of his father and that the arrange 
ment which he had made should be completely 
established, sent the most reverend Bishop Salomon, 
the Bishop of Constanzf to the apostolic see in order 
to promote this object. With him our lord and father 
Anskar, as he could not go himself, sent his son,{ our 
brother, the priest Nordfrid. These were most kindly 
received by the most holy Pope Nicholas , and to him 
they explained fully and clearly the mission with which 
they had been entrusted. He considered with wisdom 
and care the things which they told him, and, as he 
perceived by the help of God that this arrangement 
would conduce to the winning of the souls of these 
races, he confirmed by his own author! ty|| the wish 
expressed by our king. In order that we may the 
more clearly explain the matter, which was carefully 
elucidated by him, we have determined to give his own 
words. After he had fully and at the same time 
briefly recapitulated the reason for the sending of the 
messengers by the king, and other matters which we 
have included in our previous account, he went on to 
say : " The written statement relating to the authority 

*The suffragan bishoprics were those of Utrecht, Luttich, 
Miinster, Minden and Osnabriick. 

{Salomon was bishop of Constanz from 839 to 871. 

jc./., chap. xix. note p. 61. 

Nicholas I., who was Pope from 858 to 867. 

||The decree is dated May 3ist, 858. A translation of the 
complete decree is given by Kruse, p. 3, ff : also by Klippel, 
p. 224, ff. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 79 

of the messengers, and to the reception of the pallium, 
which was sent to us from our son Ludovic by the hand 
of the most holy Bishop Salomon, was authenticated 
in accordance with the custom of the holy Roman 
Church. 

From the contents of his written statement we find 
that matters are even as the pious king made known 
to us by his trusty messenger Bishop Salomon. We 
therefore, following in the steps of our predecessor, 
the great Bishop Gregory, and recognising that the 
arrangements made by his foresight were deserving of 
divine approval, have decided to sanction the wish 
expressed by the great chiefs, viz., the Emperor 
Ludovic, of sacred memory, and his most excellent 
son, who bore the same name, by a writing bearing 
apostolic authority and by the presentation of the 
pallium in accordance with the custom of our pre 
decessors. In order that Anskar may be authorita 
tively established as the first archbishop of the North- 
albingians, and that his successors, who strive for the 
salvation of the nations, may be strong to resist the 
attack of the evil one, we appoint our son Anskar as 
our legate* amongst all the surrounding races of 
Swedes, Danesf and Slavs, and amongst all others 
living in those parts, wherever the grace of God may 
open a way, and we grant him authority to preach the 
gospel openly. 

*Codex Monasteriensis adds " et successoress ejus legates." 

fCodex Monasteriensis reads, Suecmum, Danorum, Farriae, 
Norweorum, Gronlondon, Islondon, Scridevindun, Slavorum 
necnon septentrionalium et orientalium nationum quocumque 
modo nominatarum delegamus et sibi suisque successoribus 
vicem nostram perpetuo retinendam publicamque evangelizandi 
tribuimus auctoritatem. 



8o LIFE OF ANSKAR 

We decree also that Hamburg, the see of the 
North Albingians, which has been dedicated to our 
holy Saviour and to Mary His undefiled Mother, 
should henceforth be an archiepiscopal see. We call 
God to witness that we decree this in order that after 
the death of the great preacher, Archbishop Anskar, 
there may ever hereafter be chosen persons worthy of 
this great office. But inasmuch as King Charles, the 
brother of Ludovic, after the death of his father the 
emperor, Ludovic, of pious memory, took away from 
Hamburg the monastery called Turholt, which his 
father had given to the bishop and his clergy in order 
to supply them with food and other necessaries, 
all those who ministered at the altar began to 
leave the place, because, after the division of the 
kingdom between the two brothers, it appeared to lie 
within his kingdom, being situated in Western France. 

When the necessary funds were no longer available 
they left these races, and the mission to them which 
had been carried on in this way, ceased : even the 
metropolis, Hamburg, was well nigh deserted. While 
these events were taking place the Bishop of Bremen, 
the diocese of which is said to be contiguous to this 
see, died. W r hen the king perceived that this diocese 
was without a bishop and that the newly instituted 
diocese had been weakened, and that in addition the 
churches in both dioceses had been enfeebled by the 
savagery displayed by the barbarians, he began to ask 
whether the diocese of Bremen might be united and 
made subject to the new archiepiscopal see and whether 
his project might be authorised by our decree. 
Accordingly this matter was referred to us by his 
messenger Salomon, the venerable Bishop of Constanz, 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 81 

in order that we might approve it and we were asked 
to confirm the same by our authority. We therefore, 
after carefully weighing and considering the proposal, 
think that it will be advantageous in view of the 
pressing need and in order to win souls amongst the 
heathen. For we doubt not that all things that are 
proved to be profitable to the Church and which are 
not opposed to divine ordinances are lawful and ought 
to be done, especially in a district in which the faith 
has so recently been introduced and in which many 
different issues are wont to arise. Wherefore, by the 
authority of Almighty God and the blessed apostles 
Peter and Paul, and by this our decree we decide, in 
accordance with the wish of King Ludovic, that these 
dioceses of Hamburg and Bremen shall henceforth be 
called not two dioceses but one diocese, and that they 
shall be subject to the see which was raised to 
archiepiscopal rank by the decree of our predecessor, 
provided that the diocese of Ferden receive back from 
the Church of Bremen that territory which before had 
been taken away. No archbishop of Cologne shall 
henceforth lay claim to any authority in this diocese. 
Moreover we exhort him and all who accept the true 
faith to assist and support those who carry out this 
commission, so that for their good deeds they may 
deserve to receive full reward from Him who said : 
* Go and teach all the nations/* and * whosoever 
receiveth you receiveth me. f We confirm by our 
authority therefore, all the wishes expressed by our 
beloved son King Ludovic, relating to this important 
matter. And inasmuch as what has happened in the 

*St. Matt, xxviii., 19. 
fSt. Matt, x., 40. 



82 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

past renders us cautious for the future, we smite with 
the sword of our anathema everyone who opposes, or 
contradicts, or tries to interfere with this our desire, 
and we condemn him to share with the devil everlasting 
vengeance. We do this in accordance with the custom 
of our predecessors and in our pious zeal for God, 
in order that we may render the exalted apostolic see 
more secure against the attack of all enemies." 

By the decrees and dispositions of the holy Pope 
Nicholas, the Church of Bremen was joined and united 
to the see of Hamburg, which had formerly been made 
a metropolitical see and now became an archbishopric. 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

But inasmuch as we have spoken in advance 
concerning the arrangements that were made relating 
to this diocese for a long time elapsed after Anskar 
had undertaken the government of this see before it 
was settled by apostolic authority let us now go back 
to the events of an earlier period. For after he took 
over the diocese of Bremen and became possessed of 
some resources he began once more to desire vehe 
mently that, if it were possible, he might labour on 
Christ s behalf amongst the Danes. For this reason 
he paid frequent visits to Horic,* who was at that time 
sole monarch of the Danes, and endeavoured to 
conciliate him by gifts and by any possible kinds of 
service in the hope that he might gain permission to 
preach in his kingdom. On several occasions he was 
sent to him as an ambassador of the kingf and sought 
strenuously and faithfully to bring about a peace that 

*See chap. vii. note p. 38. This Horic was known as Horic the 
elder as distinguished from Horic the younger, see chap, xxxii. 

t.e. Louis " the German " who became king on the death 
of his nephew Lothair, in 869. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 83 

should be advantageous to either kingdom. His fidelity 
and goodness having been thus recognised, King 
Horic began to regard him with great affection and 
to make use of his advice and to treat him in every 
respect as a friend ; so that he was allowed to share 
his secrets when with his fellow counsellors he was 
dealing with matters relating to the kingdom. As 
concerning the matters which had to be arranged in 
order to establish an alliance between the people of 
this land, that is the Saxons, and his own kingdom, 
the king only desired that it should be guaranteed by 
his pledge, as he said that he had complete confidence 
in regard to everything that he approved and promised . 
When Anskar had thus gained his friendship he began 
to urge him to become a Christian. The king listened 
to all that he told him out of the Holy Scriptures, and 
declared that it was both good and helpful and that 
he took great delight therein, and that he desired to 
earn the favour of Christ.* After he had expressed 
these desires our good father suggested to him that he 
grant to the Lord Christ that which would be 
most pleasing to Him, namely, permission to build a 
church in his kingdom, where a priest might always 
be present who might commit to those who were 
willing to receive them the seeds of the Divine Word 
and the grace of baptism. The king most kindly 
granted this permission and allowed him to build a 
church in a part belonging to his kingdom, called 
Sliaswic,f which was specially suitable for this purpose 

*Adam Brem. (chap, xxi.) states that Horic actually became 
a Christian. 

fAlso called Heidaby. This was probably the place where 
Anskar established a school on the occasion of his first visit to 
Denmark, see chap. viii. c.f., Dreves, p. 32. Saxo Grammaticus, 
writing in the i2th century, says that a church had existed here 
since the time of Harald. 



8 4 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

and was near to the district where merchants from all 
parts congregated ; he gave also a place in which a 
priest might live, and likewise granted permission to 
anyone in his kingdom who desired to become a 
Christian. When our lord bishop obtained this per 
mission he at once did that which he had long desired.* 
And when a priest had been established there, the 
grace of God began to bear much fruit in that place, 
for there were many who had already become 
Christians and had been baptized in Dorstadt or 
Hamburg, amongst whom were the principal people 
of the place, who rejoiced at the opportunity afforded 
them to observe their religion. Many others also, 
both men and women, followed their example, and 
having abandoned the superstitious worship of idols, 
believed in the Lord and were baptised. There was, 
moreover, great joy in that place, as the men of this 
place could now do what was before forbidden, and 
traders both from heref and from Dorstadt freely 
sought to visit this place,J and opportunity was 
afforded for doing much good there. And whilst many 
who were baptised there have survived, an innumerable 
host of those who were clothed in white have 
ascended to the heavenly kingdom. For they were 
willingly signed with the cross|| in order to become 



*Codex Monasteriensis adds, et consecrata ecclesia in honore 
sanctae genitricis Dei Mariae. At a later period this church was 
dedicated to St. Anskar. 

JThat is Hamburg. 
Schleswig. 
dbatorum. The expression is applied to those who deferred 
their baptism to the hour of their death, and who died after being 
clothed in white. See Cyprian Ep. 76. 

||These were called primi signati, or, in Scandinavian, prim- 
signing. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 85 

catechumens, and that they might enter the church 
and be present at the sacred offices ; but they deferred 
the reception of baptism, as they judged that it was 
to their advantage to be baptised at the end of their 
life, so that, having been cleansed by water unto 
salvation, they might without any delay enter the gates 
of eternal life as those who were pure and spotless. 
Many also amongst them, who were overcome with 
sickness, when they saw that their sacrifices offered to 
idols in order to secure their recovery were of no 
avail, and when their neighbours despaired of their 
getting well, took refuge in the Lord s mercy and vowed 
that they would become Christians. When a priest 
had been summoned and they had received the grace 
of baptism, by divine help they forthwith recovered 
their health.* In such wise did the divine compassion 
spread in that place and a multitude of people were 
converted unto the Lord.-f 

CHAPTER XXV. 

Meanwhile our lord and master Anskar being 
greatly distressed on behalf of the Swedish race 
because it was at that time without a priest, begged 
King Horic, who was his intimate friend, that he might 
with his help make an effort to reach this kingdom. 
The king received this request with the utmost goodwill 



*Dreves refers to the case of Odilia, who afterwards became 
Abbess of Hohenburg, who, on being baptised, immediately 
recovered her sight. Rimbert s biographer states that by the 
sacrament of confirmation he was wont to restore sight to the 
blind, c./., Vita Rimberti, chap. 20. 

f-The period covered would be from 848 to 852. 



86 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

and promised that he would do everything to help. 
Accordingly the bishop began to negotiate with Bishop 
Gautbert,* saying that a further attempt must be made 
to discover whether this race, having been divinely 
admonished, would permit priests to dwell amongst 
them, so that the Christian faith, which had been 
established in those parts, might not perish in con 
sequence of their neglect. Bishop Gautbert, who is 
also called Simon, replied that, as he had been expelled 
from that country, he would not venture to go thither 
again, and that the attempt could not be advantageous, 
but would on the contrary be dangerous, should those 
who remembered what happened before raise a 
disturbance about him. He said that it seemed to 
him to be more fitting that he should go who was the 
first to undertake this mission and who had been kindly 
treated there, and that he would send with him his 
nephewf who might remain there, should he find 
opportunity for preaching, and might perform the 
duties of a priest amongst the people. When they 
had so decided, they came to King Ludovic and told 
him the reason for their action and begged that he 
would permit them to do this. He asked whether 
they themselves had come to an agreement, whereupon 
the venerable Bishop Gautbert replied : "In the 
service of God we are, and have always been, united, 
and it is our unanimous desire that this should be 
done." Accordingly, the king, who was ever ready to 
further God s work, enjoined this mission upon our 
holy father, in accordance with the terms they had 
agreed among themselves, and on his part entrusted to 

*He was at this time bishop of Osnabriick, he died in 845. 
fErimbert, see chap, xxviii. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 87 

the bishop injunctions addressed to the king of Sweden, 
as his father had done before. Oar good father then 
began to prepare for this journey and became the more 
eager to accomplish it with the utmost speed. More 
over he believed that he was commanded by heaven to 
undertake it, as he was influenced by a vision which 
he had before seen. For in the vision he thought that 
he was anxious in view of this very journey and it 
seemed to him that he came to a place where there 
were large buildings and dwellings of different kinds. 
A certain man met him there and said, " Do not be 
overmuch distressed, for the journey concerning which 
you are anxious, for there is a certain prophet in this 
place who will inform you concerning all these matters. 
And lest in regard to this matter any hesitation should 
take possession of your mind, I will tell you who this 
prophet is : Adalhard,* the once famous abbot, is the 
prophet whom the Lord hath sent to you to tell you the 
things that are to come to pass." Being greatly 
encouraged by what he heard in his vision, Anskar 
replied : " Where shall I find him, O Lord ? " " You 
will find him," was the reply, " by your own effort, and 
no one may bring him to you." Then it seemed to him 
that he passed round the dwellings seeking for him and at 
the same time he said to himself, " If without my asking 
him he shall tell me what is in my mind, then I shall 
be satisfied that he is a true prophet." He went on 
then to a bright and beautiful dwelling, and saw him 
sitting on his chair and recognised him forthwith. He 
(the prophet) looked upon him and said immediately : 

*Adalhard, who was a grandson of Charles Martel, was born 
in 753. In his twentieth year he became the gardener at the 
monastery of Corbey. In 796 he became the trusted adviser of 
Pepin, and in 820, he became Abbot of Corbey, where Anskar was 
a pupil. He died in 826. 



88 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

" Hear, O islands, and give ear ye peoples from afar. 
The Lord hath called thee from the womb and from 
thy mother s belly ; he hath remembered thy name, 
and he hath made thy mouth as a sharp sword and hath 
covered thee with the shadow of his hand and hath 
made thee like a choice arrow. He hath hidden thee 
in his quiver, and hath said unto thee, * Thou art my 
servant, for in thee I will be glorified. "* Having said 
this he stretched out his arm and lifted his right hand 
to him. When Anskar saw this he advanced to his 
knees hoping that he would be willing to bless him. 
But he added these words, " Now saith the Lord that 
formed thee from the womb to be his servant, I have 
given thee to be a light to the Gentiles that thou mayest 
be unto them salvation even to the end of the earth. 
Kings shall see and princes shall rise up together and 
they shall worship the Lord thy God, even the Holy 
One of Israel, for He shall glorify thee."f 

God s servant, having beheld this vision long before 
he set out on his journey, was assured that he was 
summoned by a divine command to go to those parts, 
and specially by the word that had been spoken 
" Hear, O islands," because almost all that country 
consisted of islands ; and by that which had been 
added, " Thou shalt be unto them for salvation, even 
unto the end of the earth," because in the north the 
end of the world lay in Swedish territory. Finally the 
word quoted from the end of Jeremiah s} prophecy : 
" For He shall glorify thee," encouraged his eager desire, 
as he thought that this referred to the crown of 
martyrdom that had once been promised to him. 

*Isaiah xlix., 1-3. 
flsaiah xlix., 5-7. 
JA mistake for Isaiah. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 89 

CHAPTER XXVI. 

As he was then about to set out on this journey* 
he took with him the message and the tokenf givei; 
him by King Horic, who directed him to give the 
message to the Swedish king named Olef,J and to say 
that the messenger whom King Ludovic had sent to 
his kingdom was well known to him and that he had 
never before in his life seen so good a man, nor had 
ever found any other human being so trustworthy. 
In recognition of his goodness he had allowed him to 
do whatever he wished in his kingdom in the interests 
of the Christian religion, and he (King Ludovic) begged 
that he would permit him to establish the Christian 
religion in his own kingdom, as he (Anskar) desired, 
for he would do nothing that would not be good and 
right. Anskar accomplished the journey on which he 
had set out, and after spending nearly twenty days in 
a ship, he arrived at Birka, where he found that the 
king and many of the people were perplexed by 
grievous errors. It happened, at the instigation of the 
devil, who knew beforehand of the coming of this good 
man, that someone had come thither and said that he 
had been present at a meeting of the gods, who were 
believed to be the owners of this land, and had been 
sent by them to make this announcement to the king 
and the people : " You, I say, have long enjoyed our 

*i.e. probably in 852, see Dreves, p. 99, n. 

f see chap. xii. 

JThis was apparently a son of Biorn II. c.f., chap.xi. n. p. 48. 

The voyage was apparently made from Schleswig in South 
Jutland, this being the port nearest to Sweden. c.f. t Adam 
Brem. Hist. xxii. 



9 o LIFE OF ANSKAR 

goodwill, and under our protection the land in which 
you dwell has long been fertile and has had peace and 
prosperity. You have also duly sacrificed and per 
formed the vows made to us, and your worship has 
been well pleasing to us. But now you are keeping 
back the usual sacrifices and are slothful in paying 
your freewill offerings ; you are, moreover, displeasing 
us greatly by introducing a foreign god in order to 
supplant us. If you desire to enjoy our goodwill, offer 
the sacrifices that have been omitted and pay greater 
vows. And do not receive the worship of any other 
god, who teaches that which is opposed to our teaching, 
nor pay any attention to his service. Furthermore, 
if you desire to have more gods and we do not suffice, 
we will agree to summon your former King Eric* to join 
us so that he may be one of the gods." This devilish 
announcement, which was publicly made on the arrival 
of the bishop, disturbed the minds of all, and their 
hearts were deceived and disquieted. For they had 
resolved to have a temple in honour of the late king, 
and had begun to render votive offerings and sacrifices 
to him as to a god. When, then, the bishop came 
thither, he asked his friends whom he had formerly 
known there how he might speak to the king on this 
matter. They all, with one accord, deprecated his 
doing so, and said that for the time being this mission 
could effect nothing, and that if he had anything of 
value with him he should give it to the king so that 
he might escape with his life. He replied, " For the 
saving of my life would I give nothing, for, if my 
Lord shall so ordain, I am ready to submit to torments 

*i.e. Eric III., the predecessor of Biorn. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 91 

and to suffer death for His name." Being in great 
uncertainty in regard to this matter, he acted on the 
advice that he received, and invited the king to partake 
of his hospitality. Then, as a fellow-guest, he offered 
what gifts he could and gave him the things with which 
he had been entrusted, for the cause of his coming 
had already been explained to the king by Horic s 
messenger, and by the bishop s friends who resided 
there. The king was delighted with his kindness and 
liberality, and said that he gladly agreed to what he 
had proposed. " In former time," he said, " there 
have been clergy* who have been driven out by a rising 
of the people and not by the command of the king. 
On this account I have not the power, nor do I dare, 
to approve the objects of your mission until I can 
consult our gods by the casting of lots and until I can 
enquire the will of the people in regard to this matter. 
Let your messenger attend with me the next assemblyf 
and I will speak to the people on your behalf. And 
if they approve your desire and the gods consent, that 
which you have asked shall be successfully carried out, 
but if it should turn out otherwise, I will let you know. 
It is our custom that the control of public business of 
every kind should rest with the whole people and not 
with the king." When our good pastor received the 
king s reply he turned to the Lord for refuge, and gave 
up his time to fasting and prayer, and with heartfelt 
contrition he humbled himself before God. 



*i.e. Gautbert and Nithard. The latter was not driven out 
but was killed. 

fSee chap. xix. note p. 62. 



92 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

CHAPTER XXVII. 

While he was in this difficult position and the time 
for the assembly drew near, he was one day engaged 
in the service of the Mass, and while the priest* was 
standing by the altar and was blessing the sacred 
mysteries, a divine inspiration came upon him as he 
prostrated himself on the ground. 

Strengthened then, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, 
and endued with the most complete confidence, he 
recognised that all would turn out as he desired. 
Accordingly, when the Mass was finished, he declared 
to this same priest, who was his most intimate associate, 
that he ought to have no fear, for God Himself would 
be his helper. When the priest asked how he knew 
this he replied that his knowledge was divinely 
inspired. The brother was able to recognise this 
divine illumination, as he knew that he had been 
divinely inspired in many previous instances, and the 
result speedily justified his confidence. As soon as 
his chiefs were assembled the king began to discuss 
with them the mission on which our father had come. 
They determined that enquiry should be made by the 
casting of lots in order to discover what was the will 
of the gods. They went out, therefore, to the plain, 
in accordance with their custom, and the lotf decided 

*Klippel identifies this priest, who is described as sibi in 
omnibus familiarissimus, with Rimbert, Anskar s biographer. He 
deduces this from the statement in the Vita Rimberti, chap, ix., 
in quo videlicet libro ubicunque commemoratio fit cujusdam 
fidissimi discipuli ejus, quod frequenter ibi lector inveniet ipsum 
sciat fuisse Rimbertum. It would appear however, that at this 
time Rimbert was still in deacon s orders, and therefore could not 
have celebrated Mass. c.f. y Adam Brem. chap, xxvii. It is 
more likely that the priest referred to is Erimbert. 

"\~c.f. chap, xix., note p. 68. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 93 

that it was the will of God that the Christian religion 
should be established there. When this happened, one 
of the chief men, who was a friend of the bishop, told 
him forthwith and bade him be comforted, and said, 
" Be strong and act with vigour, for God has not 
denied your wish nor rejected your mission." He 
then became of good courage and rejoicing in spirit 
exulted in the Lord. When the day for the assembly 
which was held in the town of Birka drew near, in 
accordance with their national custom the king caused 
a proclamation to be made to the people by the voice 
of a herald, in order that they might be informed 
concerning the object of their mission. On hearing 
this, those who had before been led astray into error, 
held discordant and confused opinions. In the midst 
of the noise and confusion one of the older men amongst 
them said : " Listen to me, O king and people. In 
regard to the worship of this God it is well known to 
many of us that He can afford much help to those 
who place their hope in Him. For many of us have 
proved this to be the case on several occasions when 
in peril by sea and in other crises. Why, then, do 
we reject that which we know T to be both needful and 
serviceable ? Some of us who on various occasions 
have been to Dorstadt have of our own accord adopted 
this form of religion, believing it to be beneficial. 
Our way thither is now beset by those who lie in wait 
for us and is rendered dangerous by the attacks of 
pirates. Why then do we not take that which is 
brought to us and which, when it was at a distance, 
we sought eagerly to obtain ? We, who have frequently 
proved that the help afforded by this God can be useful 
to us, why should we not gladly agree to continue as 



94 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

his servants ? Consider carefully, O people, and do 
not cast away that which will be to your advantage. 
For, inasmuch as we cannot be sure that our gods will 
be favourably disposed, it is good for us to have the 
help of this God who is always, and under all circum 
stances, able and willing to succour those who cry to 
Him." When he had finished speaking all the people 
unanimously decided that the priests should remain 
with them, and that everything that pertained to the 
performance of the Christian mysteries should be done 
without let or hindrance. The king then rose up from 
amongst the assembly and forthwith directed one of 
his own messengers to accompany the bishop s 
messenger, and to tell him that the people were 
unanimously inclined to accept his proposal and at 
the same time to tell him that, whilst their action was 
entirely agreeable to him, he could not give his full 
consent until, in another assembly, which was to beheld 
in another part of his kingdom*, he could announce 
this resolution to the people who lived in that district. 
Once again, then, our good father sought, as was his 
custom, for divine assistance, and eagerly besought 
God s mercy. When the time for the assembly came 
and the king had caused to be proclaimed by the voice 
of a herald the object for which the bishop had come, 
and all that had been said and done at the previous 
assembly, by divine providence the hearts of all 
became as one, so that they adopted the resolution 
passed by the former assembly and declared that they 
too would give their entire and complete assent. 

*Birka, in which this assembly had been held, was not, strictly 
speaking, in Sweden, but in Gotland. Thus Adam Brem. 
(de Sit, Dan. chap, clxxii.), writes, Gothia habitant usque ad 
Bircam, postea longis terrarum spatiis regnant Sueones. The 
second assembly was held to the south in Sweden proper. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 95 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 

When this had been done the king summoned the 
bishop and told him what had occurred. The king 
accordingly, with the goodwill and approval of all, 
determined that churches might be built among the 
people, and that priests might come to them and that 
whoever so desired might become a Christian without 
let or hindrance. Our lord and pastor then com 
mended to the care of the King Erimbert the nephew 
of the venerable Bishop Gautbert, in order that, with 
his help and protection, he might there perform the 
sacred mysteries, and to him the king granted per 
mission to build a hall to serve as a place of prayer 
in the town already mentioned ; the bishop also bought 
another courtyard, together with a house in which the 
priest might live. The king displayed further his 
affectionate regard for the lord bishop* and promised 
that in every district he would show the utmost kind 
ness to his companions who were concerned with the 
observance of the Christian religion. When, then, by 
the Lord s grace everything had been duly accom 
plished the bishop returned to his own house. 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

While preparations were being made for his 
journey j- our good father foresaw in advance, by divine 
revelation, the mental anguish which he afterwards 
endured during his journey ; for one night he saw, as in 
a vision, that it was the time of our Lord s passion and 

* According to the Hist. Archiep. Bremensis, p. 70, King 
Olaf was baptised by Anskar. 
[i.e. To Sweden. 



96 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

that he was himself present when the Lord Jesus Christ 
was led from Pilate to Herod, and again from Herod to 
Pilate, and when He endured the spitting and insults 
at the hands of the Jews and the soldiers, and it 
seemed to him that he was himself scourged all over 
because he would not suffer Him to be so punished, 
but came forward and gave his back to the scourgers 
and received in his own body the blows that were 
inflicted on Him, His head only being excepted 
because, being taller of stature, He seemed to reach 
beyond him and he could not therefore protect His 
head. Christ s invincible soldier did not understand 
what this meant till, on his return from this journey, 
he considered how much insult and derision he had 
borne and in what great straits he had been placed 
and what blasphemies against God he had there 
endured. For, in so far as he was himself concerned, 
he undoubtedly suffered there on Christ s behalf and 
Christ in His servant bore again the reproaches that 
were directed against Himself. Furthermore, he 
thought that the fact that he was not able to protect 
His head signified that the head of Christ is God and 
the sufferings which the saints endure in this world 
on Christ s behalf, pertain in part to the majesty of 
God who, in virtue of His sympathy, endures them 
for a time, but will some day severely judge, even as 
it is written : " Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith 
the Lord."* 

CHAPTER XXX. 

Nor should we omit to mention how, after the 
completion of this journey, the power of the Lord 

*Rom. xii., 19 : Heb. x. 30 : Deut. xxxii., 35 f. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 97 

was manifested to the Swedes. For a certain people 
named Cori* had in former time been in subjection to 
the Swedes, but had a long while since rebelled and 
refused to be in subjection. The Danes, being aware 
of this, at the time when the bishop had come into 
Swedish territory, collected a large number of ships, 
and proceeded to this country, eager to seize their 
goods and to subject them to themselves. Their 
kingdom contained five towns. When the inhabitants 
knew of their coming they gathered together and began 
to resist manfully and to defend their property. Having 
obtained the victory they massacred half the Danes 
and plundered their ships, obtaining from them gold 
and silver and much spoil. On hearing this, King 
Olaf and the Swedes, who wished to win for themselves 
the reputation that they could do what the Danes had 
not done, and because this people had formerly been 
subject to them, collected an immense army and pro 
ceeded to these parts. In the first instance they came 
to a town in their kingdom called Seeburg.f This 
town, which contained seven thousand fighting men, 
they ravaged and despoiled and burnt. They left it 
with strengthened hopes and, having sent away their 
ships, set out on a five-days journey and hastened 
with savage intent to another of their towns called 
AputraJ in which there were fifteen thousand fighting 
men. When they reached it, these were shut up in 
the town, and whilst the one party vigorously attacked 

*That is the inhabitants of Curlandia. See Adam Brem. 
De Sit. Dan. chap, ccxxiii. 

fSeeburg may perhaps be identified with Seleburg on the 
River Duna. 

JThis has been identified with Pilten on the River Windawa, 
in Courland, but the identification is uncertain, see E. Kunikzur 
Vita Anskarii, p. 195 f. 



98 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

the town from outside, the other party defended it 
from within. In this way eight days went by with 
the result that, though they fought and waged war from 
morning till night, and many fell on both sides, 
neither side obtained the victory. On the ninth day 
the Swedes, being exhausted by the daily slaughter, 
began to be distressed, and in their terror considered 
only how they might get away. " Here," they said, 
" we effect nothing and we are far from our ships." 
For, as we have said, it was five days journey to the 
port which contained their ships. As they were greatly 
disturbed and knew not what they should do, they 
resolved to enquire by casting lots whether their gods 
were willing to aid them either to obtain a victory or to 
get away from the place where they were. Having 
cast lots they failed to discover any god who was willing 
to aid them. And when this was announced to the 
people there arose much outcry and lamentation in 
their camp, and all their courage left them. " What," 
said they, " shall we, unhappy people, do ? The gods 
have departed from us and none of them will aid us. 
Whither shall we flee ? Our ships are far away, and 
if we flee (those in the city) will follow after us and 
will utterly destroy us. What hope have we ? " 
When they were in this great difficulty some merchants, 
who remembered the teaching and instruction given 
by the bishop, offered them advice. " The God of 
the Christians," they said, " frequently helps those who 
cry to Him and His help is all powerful. Let us 
enquire whether He will be on our side, and let us 
with a willing mind promise offerings that will be 
agreeable to Him." Accordingly, at their unanimous 
request, lots were cast and it was found that Christ 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 99 

was willing to help them. When this had been 
publicly notified, the hearts of all were forthwith so 
greatly encouraged that they wished to proceed 
immediately to make a bold attack on the town. 
" What," said they, " have we now to fear or dread ? 
Christ is with us ; let us fight and behave like men ; 
nothing can withstand us, nor shall we fail to secure 
certain victory, for we have the mightiest of the gods 
as our helper." When all were gathered together with 
courage and joy to attack the town, and they had 
invested it and were eager to commence the fight, 
those inside asked that an opportunity for speech be 
afforded them, and when the Swedish King had 
agreed, they immediately said, " We desire peace 
rather than fighting, and we wish to enter into an 
agreement with you. In the first place we are pre 
pared to give you for the sake of securing an agreement 
all the gold and the arms that we took as spoil from 
the Danes last year. Furthermore, we offer half-a- 
pound of silver for each individual man now in this 
town, and in addition we will pay you the tribute 
which we formerly paid and will give hostages, for we 
desire henceforth to be subject and obedient to your 
rule, as we were in former time. When this offer 
had been made, the passions of the young men could 
not be assuaged, but, being eager for action and devoid 
of fear, they desired only to fight and said that they 
would destroy by force of arms the town and all that 
the people possessed, and would carry them off as 
captives. The king, however, and his chief men, were 
of a wiser opinion, and, having accepted their offer 
and entered into an agreement with them, they gladly 
returned home, taking with them countless treasures 



ioo LIFE OF ANSKAR 

and the thirty hostages that were provided. When at 
length peace had been established between the two 
peoples, the Swedes extolled with utmost zeal the 
omnipotence and glory of Christ our Lord and declared 
that He was greater than all other gods. They began 
also to ask with solicitude what they ought to give to 
Him by whom they had obtained so great a victory. 
At the suggestion of some Christian merchants who 
were present at the time they promised that they would 
observe a fast that would be acceptable to the Lord 
Christ, and accordingly when they returned, after 
spending seven days at home they all abstained from 
eating flesh for another seven days. Moreover, when 
forty days had elapsed they unanimously agreed to 
abstain from eating flesh for the forty days following. 
This was done, and all who were present carried out 
their resolve with willing minds. After this, many in 
their reverence and love for Christ, began to lay stress 
upon the fasts observed by Christians and upon alms 
giving, and began to assist the poor because they had 
learnt that this was pleasing to Christ. Thus with the 
goodwill of all did the priest Erimbert accomplish 
amongst them the things that pertained to God, and, 
whilst all applauded the power of Christ, the observance 
of the divine religion from that time forward increased 
in these parts and encountered opposition from no one. 

CHAPTER XXXI. 

Meanwhile* it happened by divine judgment that 
King Horic was killed in war in a disturbance caused 
by pirates whilst his relations were attempting to invade 

*.. In 854. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 101 

his kingdom.* Together with him all the chief men 
of that land, who had formerly been acquaintances and 
friends of the bishop, perished by the sword. When 
at length the younger Horicf had been established in 
the kingdom, some of those who were then his chief 
men and had not been so well known to the bishop, 
tried to persuade him that the church that had been 
built amongst them! should be destroyed, and that the 
Christian religion should be abolished ; for they said 
that their gods were angry and that these great evils 
had come upon them because they had accepted the 
worship of another and an unknown god. Accordingly 
the headman of the village of Sliaswich, whose name 
was Hovi, who was specially opposed to this religion, 
urged the king to destroy the Christian faith, and he 
ordered the church that had been built there to be 
shut and forbade the observance of the Christian 

*Guttovn, King Horic s nephew, who had been driven out of 
Denmark, and had lived as a pirate, made an agreement with his 
brother Harald, and having gathered together a large number of 
ships, attacked his uncle. As a result of the fight Horic and all 
his chief men were killed, see Klippel, p. 102 n. 3. See also 
Adam Brem : Lib. I, c. 28 : Contendentibus ad invicem 
Gudurin principe Nordmannorum, cum patruo suo Horico, 
scilicet rege Danorum, tanta caede utrinque mactati sunt 
ut vulgus omne caderet ; de stirpe autem regia nemo omnium 
remaneret, praeter unum puerum, nomine Horicum. Iste mox 
ut regnum Danorum suscepit, ingenito furore super Christicolas 
efferatus, sacerdotes Dei expulit, et ecclesias claudi praecepit. 
Ad quern sanctus Dei confessor Ansgarius venire non trepidans, 
comitante tyrannum gratia divina, crudelem sic placatum reddidit, 
ut chritianitatem ipse susciperet, suisque omnibus, ut Christiani 
fierent, per edictum mandaret. Insuper et in alio portu regni 
sui apud Ripam exstrueret ecclesiam, in Dania secundam. 

f According to Saxo Grammaticus (ix., p. 160), the younger 
Horic was only nine years old when he became king. He died in 
863. 

%i.e. In Schleswig, c.f., chap. xxiv. note p. 83. 

" comes," count or chief : it corresponds to the Scandinavian 
" jarl." 



102 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

religion. On this account the priest who was there 
retired thence, being forced to do so by the bitter 
persecution. 

CHAPTER XXXII. 

On this account the bishop was rendered very 
anxious and not a little sad because of the friends 
whom he had formerly attached to himself by generous 
gifts. There were none at the court of the younger 
Horic, by whose instrumentality he might win him to 
do what the Lord desired. Being then deprived of 
human aid, he hastened, as his custom was, to seek 
for divine assistance. Nor did he fail to secure that 
for which he hoped, for the Lord strengthened him 
with spiritual consolation and he became assured that 
the religion which had begun to be established (in 
Sweden) would not perish, as the enemies of Christ 
were planning. By the help of the Lord matters 
turned out in the following way soon afterwards. 
When on this account he was arranging to go to the 
king, the Lord anticipated his action and the headman 
was expelled from the above-mentioned village and 
had no prospect of being received back into favour, 
whereupon the king kindly sent his messenger to the 
bishop and asked him to send back his priest to his 
church. He at the same time declared that he, no less 
than the elder Horic, desired to deserve Christ s favour 
and to secure the friendship of the bishop. When then 
our venerable pastor came into the presence of the 
king, having as his helper the most noble Burghard,* 

*Codd. Parisiensis and Ambianensis read Birchardi. 
Langebek maintains that he was a brother-in-law of the elder 
Horic. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 103 

who had formerly assisted the elder Horic in all 
matters and had great influence with both kings 
because he was their relation, the king showed his 
pleasure in receiving him by permitting him im 
mediately to do everything connected with the 
Christian religion which his predecessor had formerly 
allowed to be done. Moreover, he agreed that there 
should be a bell* in the church, the use of which the 
pagans regarded as unlawful. In another village called 
Ripa,f situated within his kingdom, he likewise gave 
a site for the erection of a church and granted per 
mission for a priest to be there. J 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 

While these things were being done the venerable 
Bishop Gautbert sent to the Swedes a priest called 
Ansfrid, who was of Danish descent and had been 
trained by Ebo for the service of the Lord. When he 
came thither he and the priest Erimbert, who had 
returned thence, || continued there for three or four 
years and won the respect of all. But when he heard 
of the death of Gautbert, he returned, and having 

*There was a widespread Christian belief that devils, and 
therefore the heathen gods, were afraid of the sound of church bells. 
It is possible that the heathen Danes had come to share their 
belief, and that on this account they objected to the use of bells 
by the Christians. 

t Called Ribe in later time. In 948 it became the seat of a 
bishopric. 

JAccording to Adam Brem. (Hist. Eccl. xxiv.), the name of 
this priest was Rimbert, but he cannot be identified with the 
author of the Life of Anskar, who was not then in priest s orders. 
(c.f., Dreves, p. 18 n, 5.), see chap, xxxiii. Adam Brem. also 
states that this Horic became a Christian. 

Gautbert was at this time Bishop of Osnabriick. 

\\i.e. In 854 or 855. 



104 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

spent some time with us* was seized with sickness, 
and after suffering much pain he died. Whereupon 
the bishop, who would not allow the Christian faith 
which had arisen there to perish, arranged to send 
thither a priest named Ragenbert. He was specially 
fitted for this task and was most willing to undertake 
the journey, but while he was on his way to the port 
of Schleswig, where there were ships and merchants 
who were to make the journey with him, by the 
contrivance of the devil it happened that he was 
waylaid by Danish robbers and despoiled of all that he 
had, and on the Day of the Assumption of St. Mary 
he too, while endeavouring to carry out his good 
intentions, made a happy end. His death caused 
great distress to the bishop, but he could in no wise 
be hindered from carrying out his purpose, and 
soon afterwards he ordained for this work a priest 
named Rimbert, j- whose ancestors were of Danish 
extraction. When he had sent him in Christ s name 
to those parts he was kindly received there by the 
king and the people, and by the help of the Lord he 
celebrated without restraint the divine mysteries in 
their midst. To him, as to all the other priests whom 
he had before appointed to live among the pagans, 
Anskar gave strict orders that they should not desire 
nor seek to obtain the property of anyone, but he 
affectionately exhorted them that after the example of 
the Apostle St. Paul,J they should labour with their 

*i.e. In Bremen. 

fit is not clear whether this Rimbert is to be identified with 
the author of the Life of Anskar. According to Adam Brem., 
Rimbert could only have been in deacon s orders at this time, 
(see chap, xxxii., note 4). Adam Brem may, however, have been 
mistaken. 

Jc./. Acts xviii., 3. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 105 

hands and be content with food and raiment. He, 
however, gave them and those who followed them in 
abundance out of his own possessions all that they 
wanted, and in addition whatever they needed to give 
away in order to secure friends. 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 

Furthermore, amid the many and varied difficulties 
which, as we have said, he endured in connection with 
this mission, although he was constantly strengthened 
by divine inspiration, which prevented him from 
abandoning the task that he had undertaken, the piety 
and spiritual fervour of Ebo the Archbishop of Rheims, 
who had first received the members of the mission, 
afforded him no little comfort. For Ebo, being 
inflamed with the desire to render effective the call 
of the non-Christian races, urged him to carry the 
blessings of the faith into those parts and impressed 
upon him that he should not abandon what he had 
begun. The good bishop, stirred by his exhortations 
and his enthusiasm on behalf of this cause, accom 
plished unhesitatingly the duties of the task that had 
been entrusted to him, nor could he be diverted from 
it by any trouble or inconvenience. Amongst the many 
words of advice and admonition uttered by the arch 
bishop by which the bishop was gladdened and 
encouraged, he always remembered the last con 
versation* that they had when they conversed con 
cerning this mission. When our bishop had 
enumerated the many troubles that had befallen him, 
and asked Ebo what he thought of the mission, and 

*At that time Ebo had ceased to be Archbishop of Rheims, and 
had become Bishop of Hildesheim. 



io6 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

eagerly demanded whatever consolation he could offer, 
with a prophet s inspiration Ebo replied, " Be assured 
that what we have begun to do in the name of Christ, 
will bear fruit in the Lord. For it is my faith, and 
I firmly believe, nay I know of a truth, that although 
for the time being on account of our sins a hindrance 
may arise, the work that we have begun amongst these 
nations will never be entirely obliterated, but by the 
grace of God will bear fruit and prosper till the name 
of the Lord reach unto the ends of the earth." This 
too, was the faith of the others ; with this purpose they 
set out to visit the distant nations ; in their love for 
this religion they strove on behalf of the Lord, from 
whom they will, without doubt, receive the reward of 
their toil. Such love and devotion were ever present 
in the mind of our lord and father, nor did he ever 
cease to pray for the salvation of these nations. 

On the contrary, when the pirates, who came from 
the above-mentioned nations, were continually attack 
ing and the whole of his diocese was being devastated, 
and his household was being plundered, he nevertheless 
prayed earnestly for those who opposed and laid wait 
for him, and ceased not to entreat the mercy of God 
for those who ill-treated him and to pray that their 
sin might not be reckoned to them, because, being 
ignorant of God s justice and being deceived by the 
devil, they had shown themselves the enemies of the 
Christian religion. His anxiety on their behalf was 
so keen that in his last illness, even till his last breath, 
he never failed to concern himself with and to plan 
on behalf of this mission.* Possessed by this ardent 
zeal for religion he was taken from this mortal life, 

*c.f. Chap. xli. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 107 

and we believe that on the resurrection day he will 
pass with honour and joy into the celestial kingdom 
accompanied by a great multitude of believers whom 
he had won for the Lord from amongst the Danes and 
Swedes and by the divine mercy will receive the reward 
for the good contest that he waged. 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

As we have now spoken at length concerning this 
mission and his anxiety to save others, the time has 
come to tell how he behaved himself with a view to 
the salvation of his own soul, and how in the fear of 
God he afflicted his body. There is no need to 
describe what you know well, the kind of life he led 
with you, in the monastery, which was marked by 
abstinence and devotion. Nevertheless he appeared 
so we have heard to the elders and the aged to be 
wonderful and worthy of imitation. When he became 
a bishop amongst us he strove by every means to carry 
forward what he had begun in the monastery, and he 
specially endeavoured to imitate the life of all the 
saints and of Martin in particular. For he wore 
sackcloth *on his skin by night as well as by day, and 
in accordance with what he had read in Martin s life, 
he made a special effort to benefit the common people 
by preaching to them the word of God. At the same 



*cilicium i.e.,, KiX iKiov was originally used to denote a 
covering made of Cilician goats hair which was used by soldiers 
and sailors. It is used in the Vulgate for sackcloth ; c.f., Ps. 
xxxv. 13. Ego autern, quum mihi molesti essent, induebar cilicio. 
The wearing of sackcloth is attributed to Martin of Tours,whom 
Anskar endeavoured to imitate. 



io8 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

time he loved to be alone in order that he might 
exercise himself in divine philosophy.* With this end 
in view he had a special cell built for himself which he 
called a quiet place and one friendly to grief. Here 
he dwelt with a few companions and, as often as he 
could get free from preaching and ecclesiastical duties 
and the disturbances caused by the heathen, he dwelt 
here alone, but he never allowed his own convenience, 
or his love of solitude, to interfere with the interests 
of the flock that had been entrusted to him. Moreover, 
as long as he possessed any part of his youthful strength, 
he would often weigh out his bread and measure his 
water, and this more particularly as long as he was 
permitted to be alone. At this time he was, as he 
himself stated, greatly tempted by the spirit of ambition. 
For the enemy of the human race endeavoured to 
corrupt his mind by this evil and he appeared great 
in his own eyes, because of his abstinence. On this 
account he was rendered sad and he turned to the 
Lord in prayer with all his might and prayed that His 
grace might set him free from this baleful impiety. 
And when for this reason he had given himself to 
earnest prayer and had fallen asleep one night, he 
beheld himself caught up to heaven and all the 
(inhabitants of the) world gathered into a dark valley, 
from which, albeit at rare intervals, the souls of the 
saints were caught up by angelic ministry and led into 
heaven. In this dark valley there was shown to him 
as it were the soil from which the human race had its 



*The expression divina philosophia was used to denote the 
religious or monastic life. Gregory of Nazianzus writes (I. p. 337), 
Pietatis gymnasia quae illic (in Ponto) erant moderatur atque 
cum Elia et Joanne, summis philosophis, solitudinem amplectitur. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 109 

origin. When he beheld all this with astonishment 
and horror, he was bidden to note the starting point 
of his present life and it was said to him, " How can 
a man boast who has had so base an origin in this 
valley of tears ? And whatever good he possesses, has 
he not received it from Him from Whom comes * every 
good gift and every perfect boon. "* " If therefore," the 
voice said, " at any future time thou shalt be tempted 
by the pest of ambition, recall the origin of thy birth 
and by the grace of God thou shalt be set free." And 
thus it happened. But after he grew old, he could 
not abstain from food in this way, but his drink 
continued to be water, though, for the sake of avoiding 
vain-glory more than for the sake of taking anything 
pleasant, he was accustomed to mix winef with the 
small amount of water he was about to drink. And 
because in his old age he could not practise his 
accustomed abstinence, he endeavoured to make up for 
this deficiency by almsgiving, prayers and other good 
deeds. For this reason too he redeemed many captives 
whom he set free.J Some of these who were specially 
suitable he ordered to be given a religious education 
and to be trained for the service of God. Furthermore, 
the large manuscripts that are with us and which were 
copied out and marked by his own hand, witness to 
his zeal and his desire to intensify his devotion and love 



*St. James I, 17. 

fpotus. In early Latin writers the word was used to denote 
beer. Thus Pliny VIII, 42, 65, writes " potus est humor ex 
hordeo in quandam simititudinem vini corruptus," but in 
mediaeval Latin it is constantly used to denote wine. 

JSee chap. viii. 

z.e. In the monastery at Bremen. 



no LIFE OF ANSKAR 

to God. These books* are only known to include 
matters that belong to the glory of Almighty God, the 
refutation of sinners, the praise of eternal life, the 
terror of hell and whatever pertains to grief and 
lamentation. The brethren who are with you and 
those in New Corbey, whom he often asked to let him 
undertake this work and who sent him writings of this 
kind, are witnesses. But though he desired to 
pass his whole life in sorrow and tears he could never 
be satisfied. For although grief would often bring 
tears, he never considered this sufficient, though in the 
last year of his life by the goodness of the Lord he 
won the blessing which he had long sought of being 
able to shed tears as often as he desired. From the 
passages in Holy Scripture that relate to sorrow for 
sin and in the case of each separate psalm he would 
provide an appropriate prayer. This he was wont to 
call his pigmentumf and in this way the psalms became 

*Anskar s writings included a Life of Willehad (see Mon 
Germ Hist. II., Migne P.L. cxviii., col. 1016), also a Diary 
(Manuale sive Diarium), which included an account of his 
missionary labours. According to the Annales Corbeienses 
(II. 269), this was sent by the Abbot Tyrno to Rome in 1261 but, 
though search has often been made for it, it has not been found. 
Klippel (p. 150 n.) expresses doubt as to the accuracy of the 
statement in the Annales Corbeienses. 

For examples of other saints who possessed similar powers, 
see Dreves, p. 127 n. 

f These " pigmenta " were lost for many centuries, but were 
rediscovered by Dr. Lappenberg in Hamburg. In an intro 
ductory note prefixed to them, pigmenta is explained as equivalent 
to odoramenta (perfumes) or aromata (spices). They consist of 
short prayers prefixed to each of the 150 Psalms. The one 
prefixed to Psalm i reads, " Make us, O Lord, to be as a fruitful 
tree in Thy presence, that, being refreshed by Thy showers, we 
may become fit to please Thee by the abundance of our fruit, 
through Christ the Lord." They are printed in Klippel s 
Lebenbeschreibung des Erzbischofs Ansgar, pp. 230-50. It has 
been suggested that Anskar desired to imitate Bezalel concerning 
whom it was written, " He made the holy anointing oil and the 
pure incense of sweet spices, after the art of the perfumer." 
Ex. xxxvii., 29. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR in 

sweet to him. And in these pigmenta he paid no 
attention to the arrangement of the words but sought 
only to attain sorrow of heart. In them at one time 
he praises the omnipotence and the judgment of God, 
at another time he upbraids and chides himself ; at one 
time he lauds the saints who are obedient to God, at 
another time he mourns for those who are wretched 
and sinful. He was wont to say that he was himself 
worse than any of them. When as others sung psalms 
with him the psalm came to an end he would meditate 
alone and in silence and would declare his meditations 
to no one. One of us who was a special friend* of 
his persuaded with difficulty and after much 
entreaty to dictate to him exactly that which he was 
wont to sing, but as long as he lived he made known 
to no one what he had written, though after Anskar s 
death he showed it to those who desired to read it. 
Whilst singing psalms he would frequently work with 
his hands, for at this time he was accustomed to make 
nets. In regard to the psalms he arranged to sing 
some by night and some by day, some while he was 
preparing to sing Mass and some while he was returning 
with bare feet to his bed. In the morning while he 
was putting on his shoes and washing he would sing 
a litany and when he went to church he would himself 
celebrate Mass three or four times, f standing as he 
performed his office. At the usual appointed time he 
would sing the public Mass unless some difficulty 
intervened, and in this case he would listen to the 

*This probably refers to Rimbert. 

f Until far into the Middle Ages it was left to the discretion of 
a priest how often he should say Mass in the course of the day. 
The Synods of the i3th century prohibit more than one as a 
rule, see Catholic Encyclopaedia, x. p. 23. 



H2 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

Mass. Who can declare how great was his liberality 
in the giving of alms, for he desired to make everything 
that he possessed minister, by the will of the Lord, to 
the needs of sufferers. Whenever he knew that anyone 
was in need he was concerned to aid to the utmost of 
his ability, and not only in his own diocese, but in 
distant regions he would provide help and assistance. 
In particular he founded a hospital for the poor at 
Bremen, to which he assigned the tithes from certain 
hamlets so that those who were poor and sick might 
be daily sustained and refreshed. Throughout the 
whole of his episcopacy he gave away for the support 
of the poor a tenth of the animals and of all his revenues 
and a tenth of the tithes which belonged to him, and 
whatever money or property of any kind came to him 
he gave a tenth for the benefit of the poor. In addition 
every fifth year he tithed again all his animals although 
they had been already tithed in order to give alms. 
Of the money that came to the churches in the 
monasteries he gave a fourth part for this purpose. 
He was ever most careful of scholars and of widows 
and wherever he knew that there were hermits, 
whether men or women,* he endeavoured to visit them 

*One of these women to whose wants Anskar ministered 
was Liutbirga. The author of the Vita Liutbirgae (c. 35) writes, 
" Ansgerus Bremensis episcopus earn sanctae filiationis amore in 
tantum colebat, ut pro ejus visitationis gratia tarn magnae 
prolixitatis viam devotus pater sumrna benivolentia proripiens, 
et earn non solum suae praesentiae colloquiis, sed et corporalibus 
subsidiis venerabilis praesul, et cunctorum necessitudinem 
voluntarius suffragator, sua munificentia maxime consolabatur." 
Liutbirga conducted a school where psalmody and various kinds of 
handiwork were taught. 

Adam Brem. I, 30, writes, Ubi (in Bixinon) devota Christi 
matrona Liutgart totum patrimonium suum offerens celesti 
sponso magnum chorum castitatis suo ducatu nutrivit ad curam 
autem pauperum et susceptionem peregrine rum multis locis 
hospitalia preparavit. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 113 

frequently and to strengthen them in God s service by 
gifts, and minister to their wants. He always carried 
in his girdle a little bag containing coins, so that, if 
anyone who was in need came and the dispenser of 
charity was not there, he might himself be able to give 
at once. For in all things he strove to fulfil the saying 
of the blessed Job, that he would not even cause the 
eyes of the widow to wait.* Thus did he endeavour 
to be an eye to the blind, and a foot to the lame and 
the father of the poor. He ordered that four indigent 
persons, two men and two women, should be received 
and fed daily at Bremen during Lent. He joined with 
the brethren in washing the feetf of the men ; in the 
case of the women this was done in the above 
mentioned hospital for the poor by one who was 
consecrated to God and whom he had himself approved 
for her devotion to God and her love of religion. As 
he went round his parishes after the manner of a 
bishop, before he came to a meal he ordered that some 
poor persons should be brought in, and he himself 
gave them water to wash their hands and blessed the 
food and drink and gave it to them. Then a table 
was placed in front of them and he and his guests 
began their own meal. We saw on one occasion an 
illustration of his compassion and piety which was 
afforded by the son of a certain widow who with many 
others had been carried as a captive to a distant land, 
that is to Sweden, and had been redeemed and brought 
back by him to his own country. When his mother 

*c.f. Job. xxxi, 16, " If I have caused the eyes of the widow 
to fail." 

fThis custom, which was called pedilavium or mandatum, 
was regularly observed in the Benedictine monasteries. 



U4 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

was rejoicing at the sight of his return and, as is the 
habit of women, was weeping for joy as she stood in 
his presence, the bishop, who was no less moved, 
began to weep also. He then immediately restored to 
the widowed mother the son to whom he had given 
his freedom and suffered them to go home rejoicing. 

CHAPTER XXXVI. 

And inasmuch as, in accordance with the teaching 
of St. Paul, his conversation* was always in heaven, 
he, though on earth, was frequently enlightened by 
celestial revelations, as we have already set forth, 
though with many omissions. Thus it was that almost 
everything that was about to happen to him became 
known to him by a dream, or by mental enlightenment, 
or by an ecstatic vision. When we speak of mental 
enlightenment we think that it resembled that referred 
to in the Acts of the Apostlesf where it is written, 
" The Spirit said to Philip." For in the case of every 
important decision that he had to make he always 
desired to have time for consideration and he decided 
nothing rashly till, being enlightened by God s grace, 
he knew what was best to be done. When he had thus 
obtained assurance by means of a heavenly vision he 
arranged everything that had to be done without 
hesitation. Moreover, in regard to the things which 
he beheld in dreams, as has already been frequently 
noted, they came true so often that we never remember 
a failure : in proof whereof let us refer to one instance 

*" conversatio " i.e., conversation or intercourse. The 
original word TroXireu/ta denotes citizenship, and is so translated 
in the R.V., see Phil, iii., 20. 

fActs viii., 29. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 115 

that has not been mentioned. Before he was invited 
to take charge of the Church at Bremen, he had a vision 
one night in which he appeared to have arrived at a 
most delightful place where he found the Apostle St. 
Peter. As he was gazing on him with astonishment 
certain men came who begged that he, St. Peter, would 
send them a teacher and pastor, and when he replied, 
" See here is the man whom you should have as your 
pastor," putting before them as he spoke the bishop 
who was standing before him, it seemed to him that 
there was a great earthquake and that he fell to the 
earth and that a voice above him spoke, and that he 
experienced a great mental happiness, even the unction 
of the Holy Spirit, so that he felt himself born again 
in the grace of Christ. The voice which came poured 
as it were a blessing upon him. Afterwards, as it 
seemed to him, the men before-mentioned urged the 
Apostle to send them a teacher, and he replied, as 
though he were displeased with them, " Did I not tell 
you that he should be your teacher who stands before 
you ? Why do you doubt ? Did you not hear the 
voice of the Holy Spirit that came for this purpose, to 
consecrate a pastor for you ? " 

When he awoke from this dream which he had three 
years before he was invited to rule over the Church at 
Bremen, he was assured by what had been said that 
it was his duty to go somewhere in the Lord s name, 
but whither he knew not. When later on he came 
by order of the king to this church and learnt that it 
was consecrated in honour of St. Peter and found some 
there who would not willingly receive him, he remem 
bered his vision, and because of it he agreed to 
undertake the charge of this diocese for, as he solemnly 



ii6 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

declared, he would not otherwise have been willing to 
do this. At the time when he had the above-mentioned 
monastery at Turholt, and the calling of the heathen 
was his special care, in order that he might be able to 
help them he caused some boys whom he had bought 
from the Northmen or Slavs to be brought up in the 
same monastery so that they might be trained for the 
holy warfare. When this monastery was given to 
Raginar he took some of these boys and sent them out 
as his servants, and on this account the bishop was 
specially distressed. In a vision which he had soon 
afterwards, he appeared to have come to a certain 
house and to have found there King Charles and 
Raginar. It seemed to him that he reproached them 
in regard to these boys and said that he had arranged 
to train them for the service of Almighty God and not 
to act as servants to Raginar. When he said this, it 
seemed to him that Raginar lifted his foot and kicked 
his mouth, and when this happened he thought that 
the Lord Jesus Christ stood by him and said to the 
king and to Raginar, " To whom does this man whom 
ye treat so shamefully belong ? Know that he has a 
Master and because of this you will not go unpunished." 
When he said this they were terrified and affrighted, 
whereupon the bishop awoke. The divine vengeance 
which overtook Raginar showed how true was the 
revelation. For a little later he incurred the dis 
pleasure of the king and lost the monastery and 
everything that he had received from the king, nor did 
he ever regain his former favour. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 117 

CHAPTER XXXVII. 

We must not appear to pass over the quality and 
the extent of his pastoral service, for in him we have 
proof of what St. Gregory said concerning the pastors 
of the Church, when he was speaking figuratively of 
the shepherds who were watching over their flock when 
our Lord was born.* " Why," said he, " did the angel 
appear to the watching shepherds, and why did God s 
light shine around them ? Was it not because they, 
above all others, deserve to behold the heavenly vision, 
who know how to superintend with care their faithful 
flocks ? While they keep watch with pious care over 
their flock the divine grace shines ever more and more 
above them." In everything that he did God s grace 
was with him, as we have proved by many examples. 
For inasmuch as he was solicitous for the protection 
of his flock, he won the right to see heavenly visions 
and in many cases, as we have shown, his mind was 
inspired by the sight of things divine. Moreover, as 
the grace of God shone more and more in his body, 
his preaching had a special charm, though it was at 
times awe inspiring, so that it might be clearly seen 
that his words were controlled by divine inspiration. 
By mingling gentleness with terror he would make 
manifest the power of God s judgment, whereby the 
Lord when He comes will show Himself terrible to 
sinners and friendly to the just. His grace of speech 
and appearance were so attractive that he inspired with 
fear the powerful and rich and still more those who 
were impenitent and shameless, and whilst the common 
people embraced him as a brother, the poor with 

*Homilia in Evang. xl. 8., Migne, P.L., Ixxvi., col. 1104. 



ii8 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

utmost affection venerated him as a father. Although 
he carefully avoided the signs of supernatural power 
as being an incentive to pride, nevertheless, though he 
sought it not, such signs were not wanting, and it was 
thereby manifestly proved that the commandment of 
the Lord that came forth from his mouth did not fail. 
For when on one occasion he was preaching to the 
people in the village of Ostarga* in Frisia on the 
Lord s day, and in the course of his address was 
warning them not to do any manual work on a Feast 
Day, some who were obstinate and foolish, on their 
return home, seeing that the day was fine, went out 
into the meadow and collected hay into a heap. When 
this had been done and it drew towards evening, all 
the heaps that had been made on that day were 
destroyed by fire from heaven, whilst those remained 
uninjured which stood in the midst of the meadow 
and had been made on the previous days. Thereupon 
the people who dwelt round, when they saw the smoke 
from a distance, thought that an enemy was approaching 
and were greatly afraid, but when they had made 
careful enquiry into the facts they assured themselves 
that obstinacy had received its punishment. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

We ought not to pass over in silence the fact that 
the Northalbingians on one occasion committed a great 
crime and one of a terrible nature. When some 
unhappy captives, who had been taken from Christian 



*Also called Ostraga and Asterga, c.f., Vita Willehadi, chap, 
viii. Adam Brem. I. 10. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR no 

lands and carried away to the barbarians, were ill- 
treated by these strangers, they fled thence in the hope 
of escaping and came to the Christians, that is to the 
Northalbingians who, as is well known, live next to 
the pagans, but when they arrived these Christians 
showed no compassion but seized them and bound 
them with chains. Some of them they sold to pagans, 
whilst others they enslaved, or sold to other Christians. 
When the bishop heard this he was greatly distressed 
that so great a crime had been perpetrated in his 
diocese, but he could not devise how he might mend 
matters because there were many involved who were 
esteemed to be powerful and noble. When he was 
much distressed on this account there was granted to 
him one night the customary consolation. For it 
seemed to him that the Lord Jesus was in this world, 
as He had once been, when He gave to men His 
teaching and example. It seemed to him that He 
went with a multitude of the faithful and that he, the 
bishop, was with Him on His journey, glad and 
rejoicing because there was no opposition, but a 
divinely infused fear was upon the arrogant, and the 
oppressors were removed and a great quiet prevailed, 
so that there appeared to be no contradiction or 
opposition on the journey. Having seen this vision 
he prepared to go to this people with the desire by 
some means or other to set free the unhappy men who 
had been sold and given over to an outrageous servitude 
and by the Lord s help to prevent anyone from com 
mitting hereafter so great a crime. On this journey 
the Lord so greatly assisted him and caused the fear 
of his power so to overawe those who were arrogant 
that, though these men were of rank and exercised 



120 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

harmful influence, none of them ventured to oppose 
his advice or resist his authority, but the unhappy men 
were sought out wherever they had been sold and were 
given their liberty and allowed to go wherever they 
desired. Furthermore, in order to prevent any deceit 
being practised thereafter they made an agreement that 
none of those who had defiled themselves by the 
seizure of these captives should defend himself, either 
by taking an oath* or by producing witnesses,! but 
should commend himself to the judgment of Almighty 
God,J whether it was the man who was accused of the 
crime or the captive who accused him. Thus did the 
Lord manifest on this journey the truth of the promise 
which He made to those who believe when He said, 
" Lo I am with you all the days even unto the end of 
the world. " So prosperously and joyfully did he 
accomplish this journey that those who were with him 
said that never in his life did he have such a good and 
pleasant journey, for they said, " Now of a truth we 
know that the Lord was with us." 



*The taking of an oath was regarded with great solemnity by the 
north German peoples. The heathen were accustomed to take 
an oath with hand resting on their sword whilst the Christians 
swore with their hand on the Cross. 

fWhen a solemn oath had been sworn it was customary to 
produce a number of witnesses or friends, who swore that the man 
who had taken the oath was worthy of credence. These witnesses 
were called consacramentales. 

JThe reference is apparently to trial by ordeal, the commonest 
forms of which at this time were judicium aquaticum, judicium 
ignis, judicium sortis and judicium Eucharistiae. In the last 
mentioned ordeal it was believed that if the guilty party partook 
of the Eucharist he would fall down dead. 

St. Matthew, xxviii., 20. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 121 

CHAPTER XXXIX. 

It is impossible to count the number of those who 
were healed by his prayers and by his anointing.* 
For, according to the statement made by many persons, 
sick people came eagerly to him, not only from his own 
diocese, but from a great distance, demanding from 
him healing medicine. He, however, preferred that 
this should be kept quiet rather than that it should be 
noised abroad. For when these signs of power were 
spoken of on one occasion in his presence, he said to 
a friend, " Were I worthy of such a favour from my 
God, I would ask that He would grant to me this one 
miracle, that by His grace He would make of me a 
good man."f 

CHAPTER XL. 

The life that he lived involved toils which were 
accompanied by constant bodily suffering : in fact his 
whole life was like a martyrdom. He endured many 
labours amongst foreigners apart from those within his 
own diocese, which were caused by the invasions and 
ravages of barbarians and the opposition of evil men, 
and in addition the personal suffering which, for the 
love of Christ, he never ceased to bring upon himself. 
But what can we do when, after mentioning so many 
things that were pleasant and profitable, we are 
compelled to mention that which it is impossible for 

*Prior to the twelfth century the expression extrema unctio 
does not appear to have been generally used, nor was anointing 
confined to the dying. 

fit is uncertain whether these words should be regarded as a 
denial on the part of Anskar that any miracles had been wrought 
through him. c.f., Kruse, p. 193. Dreves, p. 144 n. 



122 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

us to explain without sorrow ? For in the sixty-fourth* 
year of his age, which was the thirty-fourth year of 
his episcopate, he began to suffer from a serious illness, 
namely dysentery. When after many days, that is four 
months, or even more, he was still in pain and felt 
that he was nigh unto death, he continued to give God 
thanks and said that his pain was less than his sins 
deserved, and he would often repeat the words of Job,f 
" If we have received good at the Lord s hand, why 
should we not endure evil ? " Nevertheless, he became 
very sad, because as a result of his visions he had 
believed that he would die by martyrdom rather than 
by an illness of this kind, and he began to reflect upon 
his sins, because by his own fault he had been deprived 
of what seemed to him a certain anticipation, and he 
would often repeat the words of the psalmist, " Thou 
are just, O Lord, and thy judgment is righteous. "J 
He would make known this grief to his most trusty 
disciple who shared with him his sorrows, and who 
would strive earnestly to comfort him by telling him 
that it had not been promised that he should be slain 
with the sword, or burnt in the fire, or killed by water, 
but that he should come into the presence of the Lord 
wearing a crown of martyrdom. Anskar, however, 
could receive no such consolation. He would often 
converse with his disciple concerning this matter, who 
in his eager desire to bring comfort tried to remind him 
of all that he had suffered in God s service and how 
much bodily pain he had endured : he urged, moreover, 

*i.e. In 864. 
fjob. II., 10. 
jPsalm cxix., 137. 

This almost certainly refers to Rimbert the author of this 
biography. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 123 

that, even if he had suffered none of these things, his 
last grievous illness, which had continued day after 
day, would by God s grace more than have earned for 
him the title of martyr. He would, however, receive 
no consolation of this kind but continued to grieve, 
and thus it came about that the Lord deigned to 
comfort his servant not, as formerly, by a dream but 
by an open revelation, in order that for so great a grief 
he might provide a surpassing remedy. For one day 
when he was standing in the Oratory at the Mass and 
was greatly distressed on this account, he experienced 
a sudden ecstasy and heard a voice which chided him 
earnestly because he had doubted God s promise, and 
had thought that any evil-doing could be mightier than 
God s goodness. The voice said, " Believe firmly and 
in no wise doubt that God of His grace will grant both 
favours, that is, He will forgive the sins concerning 
which you are anxious, and will accomplish all that 
He promised.* Having received this consolation he 
was comforted. 



CHAPTER XLI. 

After this he began to arrange with special care the 
matters that needed attention in his diocese. More 
over he gave orders that the privileges granted by th- 



*Kruse (p. 185), suggests that the voice which Anskar heard 
was that of one of his friends who was trying to console him, but 
this explanation is most improbable. We may compare the 
experience of St. Augustine whose conversion was hastened by 
hearing the words " Tolle, lege," uttered by an unseen speaker. 



124 LIFE O F AXSKAR 

apostolic see* which concerned his mission, should be 
set forth in a number of copies and should be 
distributed amongst nearly all the bishop? in Ludovic s 
kingdom. To Ludovic himself and to his son who 
bore the same name he sent a copy and added letters 
bearing his own name in which he begged that they 
would remember these matters and give help as 
circumstances might dictate, in order that, by the help 
of God and their assistance, the mission among the 
pagan races might bear fruit and develop. When then 
he had suffered from his sickness continuously for 
three months and the season of Epiphany had gone, 
he desired that he might be permitted to pass into the 
Lord s favourf on the feast of the Purification of St. 
Man-. And as this festival drew near he commanded 
that an entertainment should be prepared for the clersy 
and the poor so that they might feast on this most 
sacred day. He commanded also that three tapers 
should be made from his special wax, which he 
regarded as specially good. 

When these had been made he had them carried in 
front of him on the vigil J of this festival. When they 
were brought he ordered that one should be placed 
in front of the altar of St. Mary, another in front of 
the altar of St. Peter, and a third in front of the altar 

These included (a) The letter of Pope Paschal I. referring 
to the start of Ebo s Mission, c.f., chap. xiii. (b) The letter of 
Pope Eugenius II., entrusting to Ebo and Anskar the mission to 
the people of the North, (c) The letter of Gregory IV., relating 
to the establishment of the Archbishopric of Hamburg, (d) The 
letter of Pope Nicholas I., relating to the union of the sees of 
Bremen and Hamburg, and (e) The announcement by King 
Ludwig, relating to the foundation of the monastery of Rameslo, 
and the bull of Pope Nicholas I., see chap, xvii n. 

fThe Codex Ambianensis reads gloriam. 

.*. On February ist. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 125 

of St. John the Baptist, as he hoped that those who in 
his vision* had been his guides would receive him 
when he departed from the body. But he was so 
wearied and worn out by his sickness that hardly any 
thing of him was left in the body except his bones which 
were bound together with sinews and covered with skin. 
Nevertheless he continued constantly to praise the 
Lord, and when the day of this festival dawned nearly 
all the priests who were present celebrated Masses on 
his behalf, as had been their daily custom. He 
proceeded to arrange the nature of the discourse that was 
to be made to the people and declared that on this day 
he would not taste anything until the public Mass was 
finished.f When it was finished and he had eaten and 
drunken in moderation he spent nearly the whole day 
in giving counsel to his companions and in enkindling 
their devotion, inciting them as far as he was able, at 
one time as a community and at another time as 
individuals, to serve God. He was, however, most 
anxious and solicitous concerning his own mission to 
the heathen. He spent also the following night in 
giving advice of this kind. He asked the brethren who 
were present when they had said the litany and sung 
the psalms in view of his departing, in accordance with 
their custom, to sing together the Te Deum and the 
catholic creed, composed by St. Athanasius. When the 
morning came and almost all the priests who were 
present had celebrated Mass on his behalf and he had 
received the communion of the body and blood of the 

*See chap. iii. 

fThis Feast of the Purification, i.e., Candlemas, fell on a 
Friday in 865. It was not however, customary to observe the 
Friday fast when one of the principal Festivals fell on that day. 



i 2 6 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

Lord, he lifted up his hand and prayed that God in 
His goodness would forgive whoever had done him 
any wrong. Then he began to say over and over again 
the verses, " According to Thy mercy think thou upon 
me, according to Thy goodness, O Lord,"* and " God 
be merciful to me a sinner, "f and " Into Thy hands, 
O Lord, I commend my spirit. "J And when he had 
said these words many times and could not continue 
through lack of breath, he ordered one of the brethren 
to continue saying the same words in his behalf, and 
so, with his eyes fixed on heaven, he breathed forth 
his spirit which had been commended to the grace of 
the Lord. 1 1 

When his body had been treated in the customary 
manner it was placed upon a bier and taken to the 
church, as was done in the case of St. Martin,^ amidst 
the lamentations of all and the unanimous mourning 
of clergy, orphans, widows, scholars and the poor.** 



*Ps. xxv., 6. 

fSt. Luke xviii., 13. 

JId. xxiii., 46, Ps. xxxi., 6. 

i.e. Rimbert : c.f., Vita Rimberti, chap. ix. 

\\i.e. On Sunday evening, February 3rd, 865, in the 64th 
year of his life. The date is incorrectly given in the Annales 
Fuldensis as February 4th. 

Tic./. Chap, xxxv., note p. 107. 

**Anskar was buried in the church dedicated to St. Peter at 
Bremen. As soon as the funeral rites were accomplished, Rimbert, 
the author of the Life of Anskar, who was then in deacon s orders, 
and who had been named apparently by Anskar prior to his 
death as his successor, was nominated as archbishop. This 
nomination was subsequently accepted by Pope Nicholas, see 
Adam Brem. Hist, xxvii. The Pope s letter referring to the grant 
of the pallium is given by Klippel, p. 252. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 127 

CHAPTER XLII. 

Although no doubt could arise in regard to his 
salvation, what monk or other believer could refrain 
from weeping, in view of the fact that he, in whom the 
lives of nearly all the saints of early times were 
reproduced, had left us desolate. To go back to the 
Head of all God s elect, he as a poor man followed 
Christ who was also poor ; like the apostles he 
abandoned all that he possessed, and like St. John the 
Baptist he sought out the solitude of a monastery and 
lived his early life far removed from the coming and 
going of men.* When, in course of time, he had 
gradually grown up and had advanced from one virtue 
to another, he who was destined to become a chosen 
vessel in order, like the apostle St. Paul, to bear 
Christ s name to the heathen nations, f afterwards, like 
St. Peter the chief of the apostles, undertook the charge 
of feeding Christ s sheep. J As a ruler he displayed 
such qualities and such greatness that as can be 
abundantly proved he acted as a mediator between 
heaven and earth, and between God and his neighbour, 
and whilst on some occasions he enjoyed heavenly 
visions and celestial revelations, at other times he 
guided the life and actions of those entrusted to his 
care. The two wings of the active and the con 
templative life he himself completely possessed, for 
whilst, according to the teaching of the gospels, the 
pure in heart shall see God, he, who in his virgin 
purity was chosen by God, continued throughout his 

*St. Luke I., 80. 
fActs, ix., 15. 
JSt. John, xxi., 17. 
St. Matt, v., 8. 



128 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

life, like St. John the apostle and evangelist, as a virgin 
both in mind and body. He was, moreover, possessed 
by so great love towards all men that like the first 
martyr St. Stephen he prayed even for his enemies,* 
How blessed was he and worthy of all praise and 
commendation, who imitated the greatest of the 
saints,f an< ^ was endowed with unnumbered virtues, 
who, being holy in mind and chaste in body, 
shall, with the virgins, follow the Lamb whithersoever 
He goes, J and, who continuing ever as a confessor of 
Christ, shall have a glorious place amidst His confessors 
and in the regeneration shall sit with the apostles on 
their lofty seat of judgment, to judge the world which 
he had despised and to receive with the martyrs the 
crown of justice and the divinely promised palm of 
martyrdom. For it is clear that there are two 
kinds of martyrdom , one which occurs when the 
Church is at peace, and which is hidden from sight ; 
the other which occurs in a time of persecution and 
is visible to all. He desired both kinds of martyrdom, 
but one only did he attain. For day by day, by tears, 
watchings, fastings, tormenting of the flesh and 
mortification of his carnal desires, he offered up a 
sacrifice to God on the altar of his heart and attained 
to martyrdom as far as was possible in a time of peace. 
And inasmuch as the agent, though not the will, was 

*Acts, vii., 59. 

fFor quern tales ac tantos imitari the Codd. Parisiensis and 
Ambianensis read quern talem ac tantum imitari. If this be 
the correct reading, the reference would be to St. Martin : c.f. t 
chap, xxxv., omnium vitam sanctorum imitari studuit, specialius 
tamen beati Martini. 

JRev. xiv., 4. 

c./. Statement by Gregory Expos, in VII Pss. poenitentiae. 
Migne Ixxix., col. 622. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 129 

lacking in order to bring about the visible martyrdom 
of the body, he obtained in will what he could not 
obtain in fact. We cannot, however altogether deny 
that he attained actual martyrdom if we compare his 
great labours with those of the apostle. In journeyings 
often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils 
from his own race, in perils from the heathen, in perils 
in the city, in perils in lonely places, in perils in the sea, 
in perils among false brethren ; in labour and distress, 
in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings 
often, in cold and nakedness ; besides those things 
which are without, that which came upon him daily, 
the care of all the Churches. Who was weak and he 
was not ? Who was offended and he did not burn ?* 
How then, shall he, who, for the Lord s sake, was 
vexed by such great bodily troubles and mental dis 
quietude, be denied the title of martyr ? For if only 
a life that ends in suffering can be regarded as that of 
a martyr, then to no purpose did the Lord declare that 
the evangelist St. John, whose life, as we know, did 
not end in martyrdom, should drink of His cup.f If 
then we do not doubt that, in accordance with the 
statement of the Lord, St. John is to be reckoned 
amongst the martyrs, we ought to have no hesitation 
regarding this holy and blessed man who has gone 
before us. For he was indeed a martyr, because, 
according to the apostle, the world was crucified to 
him and he to the world. J He was a martyr because, 
amid the temptations of the devil, the enticements of 
the flesh, the persecutions of the heathen and the 

*c.f. II. Cor. xi., 26-29. 
fSt. Matt, xx., 23. 
JGal. vi., 14. 



130 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

opposition of Christians, he continued to the end of 
his life unperturbed, immovable, and unconquerable 
as a confessor of Christ. He was a martyr, for, whilst 
the word martyr* signifies witness, he was a witness 
of God s word and of the Christian name. Wherefore 
let no one be surprised that he did not attain to that 
martyrdom which he so greatly desired and which, he 
thought, had been promised to him,f for it cannot be 
proved that this was promised as he himself interpreted 
the word martyrdom. In the case of visible martyrdom 
pride might affect the mind. J In order to avoid this, 
God, in His providence, promised and granted that, 
his merits should suffer no diminution, while his 
humility, which is the guardian of all the virtues, 
should be preserved. Wherefore, inasmuch as it is 
clear from what we have above narrated how remarkable 
was his holiness and how great were his merits in God s 
sight, it remains that, as he was in all things an imitator 
of Christ, we too should strive to be imitators of him. 
So too will it become possible that he may live with us 
on earth to the end of the world, and we may be 
worthy to live with him in heaven after our present 
life is ended. For he will live with us on earth, if 
the holiness of his life and the remembrance of his 
teaching~fecaIThim~to us. We too shall live witETiim 
m heaven $ we follow his example, if with all our 
strength and desire we long for Him to Whom he has 
gone before us, Jesus Christ our Lord, Who with the 
Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth for 
ever and ever. Amen. 

*i.e. The Greek word fj-dprvp. 

fSee chaps, iii. and xl. 

j Anskar himself admitted that he had been specially affected 
by the temptation to indulge pride, c.f., chap. xxxv. 

In the missal of the Church at Bremen this collect occurs : 

" O God, who didst grant to thy people the blessed Anskar to 
be a minister of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech thee, that 
he whom we have had as a teacher of life on earth, we may evermore 
be found worthy to have as our intercessor in heaven." 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 131 



This hymn occurs in the Breviary used in the Swedish 
Church at Upsala. 

Ansgari, pater optime, 
Errantes nos in devio, 
Reduc tuo juvamine 
Servans sub Christ! gremio. 

Danis et Suecis gratiae 
Donum fidemque praedicas 
Pugil fortis in acie 
Gentes Deo sanctificas. 

Notam facis incredulis, 
Doctrinan evangelicam, 
Lucem ministrans populis 
Ducis in viam coelicam. 

Bonus pastor viriliter 
Gregem pascis dominicum, 
Informans, quod veraciter 
Christum colat magnificum. 

Prudens talenta gratiae 
Cum lucri magnitudine 
Adduces regi gloriae 
In pacis pulchritudine. 



Deo patri sit gloria 
Ejusque soli Filio, 
Cum spiritu Paraclito 
In sempiterna saecula. 



132 LIFE OF ANSKAR 



The following represents an attempt to reproduce the 
original metre. 

Most noble father, Anskar, 

Restore us by thy grace, 
And those who wander now afar 

In Christ s own bosom place. 

In holy strife contending 

Thou did st the faith proclaim 

To Danes and Swedes declaring 
The honour of His name. 

An unbelieving nation 

From thee the light receives, 
The teachings of salvation, 

It now with joy believes. 

Thou to God s sheep hast given 
The food they fain would claim, 

And earnestly hast striven 
To glorify His name. 

To the great King thou bringest 
When earthly strife doth cease, 

The talents thou receivest, 
With manifold increase. 

To Father, and His only Son 

Be laud and honour given 
To Holy Spirit, Three in One 

In earth and highest heaven. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 133 

This hymn in honour of Anskar was written by Conrad 
Benne, who was a deacon in the monastery of S.S. Willehad 
and Stephen at Bremen from 1429 to 1456. It is included 
in the Missal of the Church at Bremen issued by Archbishop 
Johann Rode. 

Jocundare plebs Bremensis 
de tarn miris et immensis 
donis tibi hie ostensis 
cum deeore vario. 

Laeta tono psalle cano 
glorioso de patrono 
triumphante sum mo throno 
beato Anschario. 

Forma vitae Romanorum, 
pontifex Nordalbingorum 
arce tenet in polorum 
mercedem negocio. 

Antris sub Corbejae fotus, 
cunctis sanctitate notus, 
sic ad summum fit promotus 
gradum sacerdotium. 

Dispensator hie fidelis 
Danos adit tensis velis 
agnum dominantem caelis 
terrae pandit finibus. 

Corda sicca barbarorum 
dulci de eloquiorum 
fonte rigans divinorum 
signis et virtutibus. 

Victor trium fit regnorum, 
fana stravit prophanorum, 
cultu vano idoloyum 

facto prorsus exulem. 

Fide fulgent gens Danorum, 
Sueonumque, Norveborum, 
Grandlanddeum, Islandorum 
sub Bremensi praesule. 



134 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

O mens tendens ad superna, 
o sal terre, o lucerna, 
luce splendens sempiterna, 
latens non sub modio. 

Flet antistes in agone, 
se frustrari spe coronae, 
repromissa visione, 

spirans pro martyrio. 

Calice de passionis 
bibit veri Salomonis 
licet citra vim mucronis 
mortis cruciamina. 

Inter probra tot tortorum, 
fremitus tot tyrannorum, 
fidei persecutorum, 

vitae tot discrimina. 

Speculandi spe quietis 
cellam struit in rubetis, 
pastum potum ceres thetis, 
cui dat libamina. 

Nunc in ymis operatur, 
nunc in summis contemplatur, 
duplex ita colebatur 
vita sacro flamine. 

Cum triumphi gades fixit 
Christo, cui totus vixit, 
hunc commendo tibi, dixit, 
Jesu bone, spiritum. 

Corde sursum elevato, 
fratribus vale dato, 
raptu rapitur beato, 
caeli ad exercitum. 

O Anschari, pater pie, 
venerantur te hoc die, 
esto ductor hujus vitae 
virtutum in gressibus. 

In hac valle peregrina, 
gregem ad ovile mina, 
ne errantem faux lupina 
saevis voret morsibus. 



LIFE OF ANSKAR 135 

Ye men of Bremen sing with joy, 

Your hearts and minds and tongues employ, 

Such wondrous gifts without alloy 

Each with beauty all its own ! 
Of joyful sound the piercing reed 
To praise your glorious patron, speed, 
Blest Anskar, now from troubles freed 

High on his triumphal throne. 

He, God s high priest midst Northmen rude 
The pattern life to Romans shewed ; 
In Heaven s high fortress unsubdued 

Now holds his prize in glory. 
Once nurtured up in Corbey s Hall, 
His sanctity acclaimed by all, 
To highest priesthood hears his call, 

Rejoice, and sing his story. 



With wide stretched sails, in faith he flies 
Displays to wondering Danish eyes 
The Lamb of God that rules the skies, 

Bids them worship at His Shrine. 
In pagan lands hard hearts he breaks, 
Disciples for the Master makes 
Thy signs and merits conscience wakes, 

Fount of eloquence divine ! 



The conqueror of kingdoms three, 
Temples profane destroyed must be 
Vain idol worship fain must flee, 

For Christ are won these regions ! 
In faith shine forth the Danes and Swedes 
Where Bremen s faithful bishop leads 
Icelanders, too, forsake their creeds 

Greenlanders and Norwegians. 



Oh ! mind upraised, to things on high 
Oh ! salt of earth ! oh sanctity ! 
Oh ! light, no bushel hidden by, 

Shining now with heavenly beam ! 
The warrior weeps, with grief cast down 
Lest he should lose the martyr s crown, 
Twas surely promised for his own, 

Once in brightest vision s gleam. 



136 LIFE OF ANSKAR 

The Cup of Solomon the True* 

He drinketh yea, death s tortures too, 

Though not by violent sword thrust through 

Martyrdom he is denied. 
Abuse and threats on every hand, 
Tormentors, tyrants, round him stand, 
His life a sign to every land 

Faith triumphant will abide. 

In hope of contemplation sweet 
In thickest forest finds retreat 
And there pours out oblation meet, 

Corn and wine in Jesus name. 
For though absorbed in cares of earth 
He loves the things of highest worth 
Two lives he leads ; e en from his birth 

Brightly burns the sacred flame. 

To Christ, of all his life the End 
Triumphantly his steps do bend, 
" To Thee my spirit I commend, 

Dear Lord," he breathes, believing : 
Then to his brethren bids farewell, 
Is taken up, in heaven to dwell 
With rapture Those who loved him well 

Can scarce refrain their grieving. 

Oh ! Anskar blest, to thee we pray. 
As we revere thy name to-day, 
Be thou our leader that we may 

The path of virtue cherish. 
Guide ever through the trackless wold 
Thy pilgrrim sheep to the true fold, 
Lest wolves upon thy flock take hold 

And far from home we perish. 



*t.e., The Messiah, David s greatest son. 



INDEX. 



Page 

Adaldag, Bp. ... 21 

Adam, Bremensis 12, 13, 16, 18,22 

25, 39, 44, 48, 52, 55, 56, 59, 61 

67, 75, 83, 89, 92, 94, 97, 101, 103 

112, 118, 126 

Adalhard . . . 37, 87 
Amalhar ... 50 

Amiens . . . . .9 
Anound . . . 62, 65 

Apocalypse, The . . 32 

Aputra .... 97 

Ardgar . . 14, 62, 69, 71, 73 
Ausfrid .... 103 

Autbertus . . 11,41,44 

Baptism . 49, 70, 75, 84 

Bathilde ... 25 

Burghard . . . 102 

Bernhar ... 57 

Biorn ii., King 13, 48, 56, 62, 65, 89 
Birka, 12, 21 , 48, 65, 66, 89, 93, 94 
Boniface . . 10, 43, 56 

Bremen, 14, 16, 21, 51, 75, 80, 
104, 109, 112, 115, 124 

Caesar, Philip . . 21 

Catla .... 71 

Centuriatores Magdeburgienses 9 
Charlemagne, 7, 9, 13, 28, 30, 50 
74, 80, 116 

Christian, Bp.. . . 18 

Church, Holy Roman . 79 

Collect . . . . 130 

Cologne . . 43, 77, 81 

Communion, Holy . . 69, 73 
Corbey, New, 9, 21, 25, 37, 39, 44, 

110 



Page 
Corbey, Old, 9, 11, 12,22, 25, 27,28 

36, 37, 39, 87 

Cori .... 97 

Dahlmann . . 43, 49, 57 
Danes, . 8, 50, 53, 56, 62, 65, 68 

79, 82, 97, 99 

Denmark . . . 7, 14 
Dorstadt . . 43,71,84,93 

Dreves, 24, 28, 45, 62, 68, 70, 72 
75, 83, 85, 89, 103, 110, 121 
Drogo . . . . 52 

Ebo . 8, 20, 52, 103, 105, 124 
Epiphany . . . 124 

Eric, King . . . 13, 90 
Eric ii., King ... 14 

Erimbert, 59, 86, 92, 95, 100, 103 
Eugenius ii. . . . 124 

Franks . . . . 8, 9 

Frideburg ... 70 

Frotho vi., Danish King . 9 

Fulbert .... 35 

Gautbert, 13, 18, 55, 59, 67, 70 
86, 91, 95, 103 

Gislema . . . 11,47 

Goths .... 12 

Gregory i., Pope, 75, 79, 117, 128 
Gregory iv., Pope . 13, 53, 124 
Gregory Nazianzus . . 108 

Gualdo .... 21 

Gunthar . . . 77 

Guttovn . . . 101 

Hadebald ... 43 

Haligad ... 76 

Halitgar ... 8 

Hamburg, 8, 13, 51, 57, 59, 74 75, 
76, 80, 84, 110, 124 



137 



INDEX 



Page 

Harald . 38,39,40,42,47,83 

Helmold ... 22 

Heridac . . . 51 

Herigar . 49,61,65,69,73 

Honorius, Pope . . 9 

Horic, 38, 82, 83, 85, 89, 91 , 100, 101 
Hovi . . . .15, 101 
Isaiah .... 88 

James, St. . . 109 

Jeremiah 

Job ... 58, 113, 122 
John, St., the Apostle . 128 

John, St., the Baptist 30, 34, 125, 127 
Jorgensen . . . 19 

Judith .... 39 

Jutland . . . . 13, 38 
Klippel, 23, 71, 78, 92, 101, 110, 126 
Kruse, 9, 23, 42, 64, 68, 71, 78, 121 

123 

Kunik . . . .24,97 
Langebeck . . .43, 102 
Lappenberg . . . 23, 110 
Lent . . . 8,16,113 

Leuderic . . .59, 75 
Littgar . . . . 16 

Liutbirga . . . 112 

Livingstone . . . 18 

Lothair . . . . 77, 82 
Lots, Casting of . 68, 92, 98 
Louis, "the German" . 82 

Ludovic, Emperor, 1 1, 38, 39, 45, 49 
51, 52, 57, 74, 86, 89, 124 
Lull, Raymund . . 18 

Luxeuil . . . 10 

Mainz . . . 13, 75, 76 

Martel, Charles . . 87 

Martin, St. . 17, 107, 126, 128 
Martyn, Henry . . 18 



Page 

Martyrdom 10, 33, 36, 59, 128 

Mary, B.V. . . 29, 80, 84, 124 
Mass . 15,92, 111, 123, 125 

Meldorf ... 9 

Michael, Emperor . . 48 

Miracles . . 7, 63, 72, 121 

Missionaries, self support of 20, 104 
Nicholas, Pope 78, 82, 124, 126 

Nigellus ... 39 

Nithard . . 18, 59, 91 

Nordalbingians 51, 79, 80, 1 18 

Nordfried . . . 61, 78 
North Albingia . . 15 

Northmen . . 7, 21 

Oaths .... 120 

Odin .... 12 

Olaf . . 38,89,95,97 

Ordeal, Trial by . 120 

Ostarga .... 118 

Paschal, Pope . . 54, 124 

Paul, St. 17,20,81,104,114,127 
Pepin .... 87 

Peter, St. 28, 30, 32, 34, 54, 81, 115 
124, 126, 127 

Philosophy . . . 108 

Prayer, 30, 41, 91, 94, 102, 106, 108 

126, 128 

Ragenbert . . . 104 

Raginar . . . 74, 116 

Rameslo . . . 59, 124 

Reuterdahl ... 23 

Rimbert, 7, 18, 20, 25, 47, 52, 61 
64, 85, 92, 103, 104, 111, 122, 126 
Ripa . . . .15, 103 
Sackcloth . . 15, 107 

Salamon ... 78 

Saxo Grammaticus 9, 22, 83, 101 
Saxons . . . 7 





INDEX 


139 




Page 




Page 


Saxony, Dioceses of . 50 


Unmi, Bp. 


21 


Schleswig 


11, 14, 38, 84, 89, 101, 


Unction 


. 16, 121 




104 


Upsala . 


12, 67 


Seeberg 


97 


Verden . 


. 50, 51, 75, 81 


Sigtuna 


12, 48, 56, 65, 66, 67 


Vienna . 


20 


Slavs 


. 53, 56, 68, 79, 116 


Visions 10,29, 


34,46,87,95,114 


Sliaswic 


. 83, 101 




125 


Stephen, St. 


128 


Wala . 


11, 39, 47 


Sveas 


12 


Waldgar 


76 


Swedes 10, 


12,46,51,53,55,59,68 


Welanao 


. 54, 55 




70, 79, 97, 100, 103 


Willebald 


9 


Sweden 


7, 11, 14 


Willehad 


. 9,110 


Tacitus . 


. 48, 68 


Willibrord 


. 43, 56 


Tappelhorn 


. 23,43 


Witikind 


8 


Tithes . 


. 15,112 


Witmar . 


12, 36, 47 


Trithernius 


71 


Wordsworth, Bp. 


12, 19, 24 


Turholt 


52, 56, 74, 80, 116 


Worms . 


77 


Tymo 


110 


Xavier, Francis 


18 



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