Wilbrord (or Willibrod), St
Wilbrord (or Willibrod), St.
commonly known as, "The Apostle to the Frisians," was born in the Sax on kingdom of Northumbria about A.D. 657. He was placed in Wilfred's monastery at Ripon while still a child, and adopted the monastic profession before he was twenty years old. He then visited Ireland, where he spent thirteen years under the instruction of St. Egbert and the monk Wigbert, two members of the Anglo Irish Church, the latter of whom had preached Christianity in Friesland for two years in vain. Having determined to undertake the work which had baffled his preceptor, Wilbrord departed for Friesland in the year 690, taking with him eleven or twelve disciples. When they arrived at Utrecht, they were warmly received by Pepin the Big, who had just gained a victory over the Frisians. In 692 he visited Rome to gain the favor and influence of the pope, and in 695 made a second visit to the papal capital, and was made bishop of the Frisians with the ecclesiastical name of Clezens. He established his episcopal chair at Utrecht, where he built the Church of St. Savior, and restored that of St. Martin. He visited the Danes and made many converts; then, proceeding by water, he came to the island called Fositisland (probably the present Heligoland), from the name of the idol worshipped there. Here his disregard of their superstitions and of the objects by them held sacred subjected him to great opposition and a severe ordeal, in which, however, he was successful in escaping punishment. His work was largely undone by the death of Pepin in 714, and the consequent restoration of the heathen monarch Radbod. But Wilbrord enjoyed the patronage of Charles Martel, whose successes re- established him in his episcopal authority and influence. He founded the monastery of Epternach, near Treves, about 698, and there died and was buried in 738. His day in the calendar is the 7th of November. See Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica, 5, 11:12; Mabillon, Annales Ordinis S. Benedicti, lib. 18; Wright, Biographia Britannica Literaria (Anglo-Saxon Period), p. 250-262; Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Géneralé, s.v.