13 Things to Know About St. Ansgar of Scandinavia + 2 Free Wallpapers!
Ansgar comes across as a a wiley and bull-headed man, filled with conviction for Christ and an inveterate trust in God’s will, despite the incessant ebbing and flowing of his fortunes. As the Apostle to the Vikings, he was born during a time of violence and invasion, and while still young, volunteered to travel into the heart of the throbbing Viking empire and preach Christ. Almost every one of his missions ended in ashes, and yet he always found a way to negotiate, return and rebuild.
For all his efforts, historians record that his work was washed away by fresh invasions after his death. He is remembered with deep devotion in Scandinavia for his personal austerity, unflinching charity to the poor and downtrodden, and his ability to bring the light of Christ into a world dark with paganism.
Here we’ve rounded up a couple of things about this generally unknown saint that are sure to brighten your day!
At the end, we have a couple of free wallpapers to download. All these images are 2550x1440px, and should be beautifully HD for all your devices. Just click the image to download the original size. They’re all free for personal use. Ask if you have any requests!
Ansgar is one of our first members in SaintNook, the social network where the Saints are always online!
We’ve set up for him a:
9 Life Moments to Know
- Born in War: He was born during the life of Charlemagne, when the western medieval world was rocked by the concerted conquests of the Vikings. Maps of Europe bristled with the crossed swords of defensive battles to protect convents, clergies and communities all along the Frankish and Germanic coastlines.
- Young Prodigy: Ansgar’s devotion started young; at 5 he had a vision of his mother in Heaven, which inspired his entire life. At 13, the death of Charlemagne impressed in him the search for eternal values. At 25, he was elected abbot of New Corbey in Westphalia.
- A New ‘Sam’: Inspired by the vision of bringing the living Christ the Vikings, he educated himself and championed a mission into Denmark. None of the other monks or priests wanted to go with him. At all. Except for the steward, Autbert. He volunteered wi th Ansgar, but died two years later.
- Fiery Education: Ansgar’s first outpost was a school in Schleswig, where he baptized the local king Harold and tore down the pagan temples. The ensuing rebellion routed the king and forced Ansgar to start from scratch in Sweden.
- Plundered: On the way to Sweden, “pirates plundered them of everything: the presents for the king, their sacred books, and all their ecclesiastical vestments. In this forlorn and destitute condition they reached Birka, a haven and village on the Mälar lake, not far from the ancient capital Sigtuna, the residence of rich merchants, and the centre of the northern trade.”
- The Lord Giveth: After establishing a new Church in Birka, he went to Rome to be authorized to preach to the North. He returned to find everything in ashes from invaders, and everyone forced to flee to Bremen.
- Relic: Similar to the Assyrian conquest of the Ark of the Covenant, one of the Vikings stole a relic from Ansgar’s church. His family members started dying around him, and when he died as well, his father fled to a soothsayer, who identified that ‘the Christian God’ was meting vengeance for their injustice. He left the relic at a crossroads and begged public forgiveness. When Christians claimed it and returned the relic safely to Ansgar, the vengeance expired.
- Divine Vote: To allow Ansgar’s deputy, Ardgar, to preach in their area, the Vikings set up a challenge between gods; two representative parties were to sit in a field and be rained on. The Christian God was to keep the Christians dry. God pulled through.
- Christian Slave Trade: Throughout his life, especially in his later years, Ansgar championed the freedom of Christians from the Viking slave trade – at the risk of his life and negotiations.
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