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Saint Willibrord

Bishop, Confessor, and Apostle to the Frisians. 

Willibrord was born in Northumberland, being the son of a godly Englishman named Wilgis, who became a monk, and was a most holy man. Before Willibrord was seven years of age, he was taken to the monastery of Ripon and given in charge to Saint Wilfrid, the founder and ruler thereof, to be trained up in a holy life and learning. There, in a short while, he wonderfully stepped forward, not in knowledge only, but also in grace, and led the life of a monk until the twentieth year of his age. Then he had a desire for a harder life, and with the leave of his Abbot and brethren, went into Ireland to the holy men Egbert and Wigbert, who both had journeyed thither for the love of heavenly things. In their devout companionship and conversation, and amid the most excellent teachers of godliness and sacred learning, with whom the Isle of the Saints then abounded, this future teacher of many nations passed twelve years, and himself gained learning and character.

Somewhere around the age of thirty he was ordained priest, and was sent by Egbert to convert the pagans of Friesland, along with eleven companions of his own countryfolk eminent for learning and holiness of life, among whom were Saints Swithbert and Adalbert. He landed at Utrecht, and was welcomed, along with his companions, by Pepin of Heristal, who had brought Southern Friesland under his power, and who mightily helped the preaching of the Gospel, so that in a short while many were turned from the worshipping of idols unto the Christian Faith. Thereafter Willibrord journeyed to Rome to seek a wider knowledge of missionary work in that great Christian centre, where he was welcomed by Saint Pope Sergius I who sent him back much comforted. Later, when Saint Wilfrid had consecrated holy Swithbert as regionary bishop, Pepin sent Willibrord to Rome to be consecrated Archbishop by the same holy Pope Sergius.

Willibrord returned to Friesland as soon as he could, and established his See at Utrecht. He proclaimed the Word of God with much fruit in Friesland, Holland, Zeeland, and Flanders, (even unto the uttermost tribes of those countries,) brake their idols, destroyed their temples and shrines, dedicated many temples to Christ, and established bishops, priests, and other ministers of the Church, eminent for knowledge and grace. He founded houses of religious of both sexes, among which the principal was that for monks at Echternach, in Luxemburg, the government whereof he himself took, and held until his death. At length, after a life of holy and unwearied apostolic labors, he passed away, to be ever with Christ, on November 7th, 739, and of his own age the eighty-first. He is usually reckoned as the Apostle of the Frisians, for it was through his labours and those of his blessed companions, especially of Saint Swithbert, that this barbarous people were made gentle in Christ. He was buried in the Abbey of Echternach. After his death his apostolic labours were taken up by many other Englishmen, eminent among whom were Saints Willehad, Marcellinus, and Edwin, all of whom are commemorated in the Martyrology.

Collect

O GOD, who didst vouchsafe to send thy blessed Saint Willibrord to preach thy glory to the Gentiles: we humbly pray thee; that, by his merits and intercession, we may both see and know the things which we ought to do, and by thy mercy be enabled to perform the same. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, pages 1547-1548

Additional Information:

The Anglican Breviary is available at the Anglican Breviary website

The Ordo Kalendar may be purchased from the Anglican Parishes Association.