Augustine of Trondheim

(d. 1188)

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St Olaf (995—1030)


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(d. 1188),

archbishop. Born of a noble family, he studied at St Victor at Paris, returned to Norway and became the king's chaplain. In 1157 he was named archbishop of Nidaros (Trondheim), was consecrated by the pope, and in 1161 he returned with the pallium and with a legateship. This followed on the reorganization of the Church in Scandinavia in 1153 by the English legate (and future pope Adrian IV), whereby Trondheim became metropolitan of ten dioceses, which comprised not only Norway but also the Scandinavian empire of Iceland, Greenland, the Orkneys and Shetlands, with the western islands and Man.

As archbishop he encouraged neglected clerical celibacy by founding Cistercian and Augustinian monasteries and tried to ensure the policies of the Gregorian Reform. This brought him into conflict with the kings. Although he had crowned Magnus as king at Bergen in 1164 at the age of only eight, Augustine was in conflict with the child's successor Sverre, who obliged him to flee the country in 1181. He came to England, residing at the abbey of Bury St Edmunds and helping them to obtain from Henry II the free election of Abbot Samson. In 1183 he returned to Norway and was reconciled with the king.

This enabled him to undertake the rebuilding of his cathedral, where Olaf was buried; he employed English architects who built in the Gothic style. Of Olaf he also wrote the account of his passion and miracles, possibly during his stay in England.

Immediately after his death he was considered a saint, but various papal enquiries seem to have been unfinished. The local synod of Nidaros however declared him a saint in 1229 and Matthew Paris, who visited Norway for a few years, referred to his sanctity as being proved by many authentic miracles. Feast: 26 January.

B.L.S., i. 184–5;H.S.S.C., vi. 268–9;S. Undset, Saga of the Saints (1934).

Subjects: Christianity.

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