Adalbert of Magdeburg


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(d. 981),

archbishop. Details of his early life are unknown, but he became a monk at St Maximin of Trier. The emperor Otto the Great and his English wife Edith founded a monastery at Magdeburg to provide a base for evangelizing the Slavs: this was a policy he favoured for both religious and political reasons. At the request of Olga of Kiev, a recently converted septuagenarian ruler, a Christian mission was sent there, headed by Adalbert. This mission ended in failure, not through Adalbert's fault, but because Olga's son Svyatoslav superseded her: he was not a Christian and some of the missionaries were killed.

Adalbert however escaped, remaining at the imperial court of Mainz until he was appointed abbot of Weissenburg. In 988 he became first archbishop of Magdeburg with papal jurisdiction over the Slavs beyond the Elbe together with the Wends whom he evangelized. In 973 Otto died; he was buried in Magdeburg cathedral by Adalbert, who outlived him for eight years. Feast: 20 June.

AA.SS. Iun. IV (1743), 30–7;Chronicle of Thietmar of Merseburg in G. Pertz, M.G.H. Scriptores, i. 613–29;B.L.S., vi. 147–8;Bibl. SS., i. 183–5.

Subjects: Christianity.

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