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Willibrord, St

Willibrord, St (658–739). Northumbrian monk and missionary to Frisia. He was educated at Wilfrid's Ripon, then for twelve years at Rath Melsigi (Clonmelsh, Co. Carlow) in Ireland, under Egbert, who in 690 directed him to work, as Wilfrid had, in Frisia. Consecrated archbishop (as Clement) of the Frisians by Pope Sergius I in 695, he was given Utrecht for his see by the Carolingian mayor of the palace, Pippin II. His monastery at Echternach (in modern Luxembourg), founded in 698, possibly as a base for work in Thuringia and Hesse, enjoyed Pippin's patronage. Its school and scriptorium were famous between the 8th and 10th cents. Willibrord took the cult of Oswald to Europe and prepared the way for the missionary Boniface, but his preaching in Denmark failed and whatever ecclesiastical administrative structure he established lapsed. He was buried at Echternach and soon venerated as a saint, his kinsman Alcuin writing his biography. His cult flourished more in Holland and Luxembourg than in England.

A. E. Redgate

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