Ebbo archbishop of Rheims, was the son of a Saxon serf, and was born about 775, or, according to other accounts, about 786. While a boy he became known to the young king Louis, the son of Charlemagne, who sent him to a convent school, and had him educated for the ministry. As he belonged to a serf family, and could not receive orders, Louis set him free, after which he was ordained. After the accession of Louis to the throne, Ebbo's influence rapidly rose, and in 817 the king secured his election as archbishop of Rheims. Soon after, in 822, he placed himself at the head of a mission to the Danes. His plan highly pleased both the king and the Pope.
The Danish king Harald allowed him to preach Christianity, but refused to become a Christian himself. Many Danes were baptized; but, owing to some threatening movements against Harald, Ebbo in 823 returned to the emperor, and at the Diet of Compiegne made a full report on his mission. Soon after he undertook a second missionary visit to Denmark, at which he disposed the king favorably towards Christianity. In 826, the king, with his wife, his oldest son, his nephew, and a suite of 400 men, came to the emperor's court at Mayence and was baptized. The mission in Denmark was now placed under Ansgar, and Ebbo returned to his archbishopric. He took an active part in the affairs of the state, and in the war of the sons of Louis against their father, he, with most of the bishops, took side with the sons. He presided at the assembly of bishops which in 833 compelled Louis to do public penance, as such an act, according to the laws of the Church, made him unfit to bear arms. But when, in 834, Louis regained his power, Ebbo was arrested and kept a prisoner in the convent of Fulda. He was brought before the Diet of Diedenhofen in 835, and confessed himself guilty of offenses which, in the opinion of the judges, made him unfit for any further administration of his office. He was again confined in the convent of Fulda, where he remained until the death of Louis in 840. He then prevailed upon Lothaire, who made an attempt to possess himself of the whole empire of his father, to reinstate him as archbishop of Rheims (December 6, 840). In May, 841, king Charles, the brother of Lothaire, again expelled him; and as, at the conclusion of peace, Lothaire did not take a special interest in Ebbo, he lost his archbishopric forever. In the last years of his life, king Louis of Germany appointed him, with permission of the Pope, administrator of the diocese of Hildesheim. He died March 20th, 851. Ebbo compiled an Indiculum Ebbonis de ministris Remensis ecclesiae, an instruction for the clergy of his diocese as to their mode of life, and an Apologia Archiepiscopi Remensis cum ejusdem ad gentes septentrionales legatione. They are of small size and no value. — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 19:447; Wetzer u.Welte, Kirchen-Lex. 3:349. (A.J.S.)