Swithbert (Suidbert, Suitbert), St.

views updated


Anglo-Saxon bishop and missionary in the Netherlands; d. Kaiserswerth, Germany, ca. 713. A Northumbrian by birth, he became a monk and went to Rathmelsigi in Ireland to be under the tutelage of egbert of iona. He was one of the band who accompanied willibrord to Frisia in 690 to evangelize the pagans. He labored in the southern part of the present-day Netherlands. In 693 he went back to England to receive consecration as bishop from wilfred of york. Upon his return he seems to have devoted himself to the conversion of the peoples northeast of the Rhine. Pepin of Heristal gave him an island in the Rhine (modern Kaiserswerth) as a monastic base. During the pagan counterattack on the Rhineland missions, Swithbert retired to his monastery and died there, to be succeeded by (St.) willaik. Evidence of his scholarship exists in a manuscript of Livy now in Vienna, which probably was in his possession and in which he is described as bishop of Duurstede. In ecclesiastical art he is represented as a bishop holding an eight-rayed star between his hands.

Feast: March 1.

Bibliography: bede, Ecclesiastical History 5.911. m. bateson, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900; repr. with corrections, 21 v., 190809, 192122, 1938; suppl. 1901) 19: 155. f. flaskamp, Suidbercht (Duderstadt 1930). w. levison, England and the Continent in the Eighth Century (Oxford 1946) 5762. t. schieffer, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765); suppl., Das Zweite Vatikanische Konzil: Dokumente und Kommentare, ed. h. s. brechter et al., pt. 1 (1966) 9:1159.

[j. l. druse]