Willibrord of Utrecht
Archbishop + Missionary
7 November 729
From the Satucket Lectionary
Willibrord, first Archbishop of Utrecht, is one of the missionaries sent out by the Anglo-Saxon Christians about a century after they had themselves been Christianized by missionaries in the south and east of England from Rome and the Continent, and in the north and west from the Celtic peoples of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.
Our information about Willibrord comes to us from the Venerable Bede (History of the English Church and People, v. 10-11) and from a biography by his younger kinsman Alcuin (see 20 May), Minister of Education under the Emperor Charlemagne. Willibrord was born in Northumbria in England about 658, and studied in France and Ireland. In 690 he set out with 12 companions to preach to the pagans of Frisia (a region roughly coextensive with the province of Friesland in the Netherlands, including some adjacent territories and the Frisian islands in the North Sea). His work was interrupted several times by wars, and he left for a while to preach to the Danes instead. He died 7 November 739.
Willibrord is a symbol of ties between the Christians of England and those of Holland. Today the historic See of Utrecht is in full communion with the Church of England.
by James Kiefer
(These stamps honor Willibrord because of his founding of the Abbey at Echternach, in Luxemburg, and were used to aid renovations there.)