Born in Northumbria, from the age of seven, Willibrord (658-739) was brought up and educated at Bishop Wilfrid’s monastery at Ripon. For 12 years, 678-690, he was at an Anglo-Saxon religious community in Ireland, where he acquired his thirst for missionary work.
In 690, with twelve companions, he set out for Frisia (Holland), a pagan area that was increasingly coming under the domination of the Christian Franks. There Bishop Wilfrid and a few other Englishmen had made short missionary visits, but with little success. In 693, he secured Papal support for his mission. In 695, he was consecrated Archbishop of the Frisians. On his return from Rome, Pepin granted him a site for his cathedral at Utrecht. In 698, he established a monastery in Luxembourg.
His work was frequently disturbed by the conflict of the pagan Frisians with the Franks, and for a time he left the area to work among the Danes. For three years, he was assisted by St. Boniface.
…the most reverend prelate preached the word of God far and wide, recalling many from their errors and establishing several churches and a number of monasteries in those parts. – Bede’s account of Willibrord
Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank You for the life and ministry of Willibrord. Stir up within the Church of England and throughout the Anglican Communion prelates with a thirst for missionary work, who preach the word of God far and wide, recalling many from their errors and establishing churches and monastic communities. Amen.