archbishop of Bremen. Born near Amiens of a noble family, Anskar was educated at Corbie (Picardy), where he became a monk. Later he moved to Corvey (Westphalia), where he began apostolic work. Harold, king of Denmark, who had become a Christian while in exile, took back to his country Anskar, who under royal patronage evangelized the people. After a missionary journey in Sweden, he was appointed bishop of Hamburg (832) and, after the sack of Hamburg by Vikings in 845, archbishop of both Hamburg and Bremen by Pope Nicholas I, who also gave him some jurisdiction over Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
He founded schools, was an indefatigable preacher, and was outstanding in his charity to the poor. He was also prominent in diminishing the effects of the Viking slave-trade, being powerless to abolish it. His most lasting achievements as Christian missionary were in Denmark, whose patron he is, and in north Germany; Sweden, however, relapsed into paganism and was re-evangelized by Sigfrid and others in the 11th century.
Anskar often wore a hairshirt, lived on bread and water when his health allowed it, and added short personal prayers to each psalm in his psalter, thus contributing to a form of devotion which soon became widespread. He died and was buried at Bremen. Feast: 3 February.
AA.SS. Feb. 1 (1658), 391–445 for contemporary Life, also ed. G. Waitz in Scriptores Rerum Germanicarum (1884), Eng. tr. by C. H. Robinson (1921);modern Lives by E. de Moreau (1930) and P. Oppenheim (1931). See also C. J. A. Opperman, English Missionaries in Sweden and Finland (1937);B.L.S., ii. 35–7 and Bibl. SS., i. 1337–9.
Subjects: Christianity — Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).