St. Anscharius of Bremen
February 3, Saint


Roman martyrology: St. Anscharius, bishop of Bremen, who converted the Swedes and the Danes to the faith of Christ.

Short Biography

St. Anscharius was a monk, first of Old Corbie in France, afterwards of Little Corbie in Saxony. Harold, or Heriold, prince of Denmark, having been baptized in the court of the emperor Louis Débonnaire, Anscarius preached the faith with great success, first to the Danes, afterwards to the Swedes, and lastly in the north of Germany. In 832, he was made archbishop of Hamburg, and legate of the holy see, by pope Gregory IV. That city was burnt by an army of Normans, in 845. The saint continued to support his desolate churches, till, in 849, the see of Bremen becoming vacant, pope Nicholas united it to that of Hamburg, and appointed him bishop of both. Denmark and Sweden had relapsed into idolatry, notwithstanding the labors of many apostolical missionaries from New Corbie, left there by our saint. His presence soon made the faith flourish again in Denmark, under the protection of king Horick. But in Sweden the superstitious king Olas cast lots whether he should be admitted or no. The saint, grieved to see the cause of God and religion committed to the cast of a die, recommended the issue to the care of heaven. The lot proved favorable, and the bishop converted many of the lower rank, and established many churches there, which he left under zealous pastors at his return to Bremen. He wore a rough hair shirt, and, while his health permitted him, contented himself with a small quantity of bread and water. He never undertook any thing without recommending it first to God by earnest prayer, and had an extraordinary talent for preaching. His charity to the poor had no bounds; he washed their feet, and waited on them at table.

St. Anscharius died at Bremen in the year 865, the sixty-seventh of his age, and thirty-fourth of his episcopal dignity; and was honored with miracles.


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