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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, 865.

This Saxon monk of Corbie, France, was one of the first Christian missionaries to the notorious Vikings. Most of the descendants of the Vikings are today's Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians. However, a significant Viking strain entered England through the Danelaw and the Norman Conquest.

Anskar established the first Christian school in Denmark, but was soon run out by local heathens. Undiscouraged, he moved on to Sweden where he founded that country's first Christian church in about 832. His interest in the Vikings did not wane when he accepted a call as bishop of Hamburg in Germany. He continued to initiate missions, especially in Sweden. It was not until long after his death that Sweden became a Christian country, but he had sown the seeds of her conversion, and it is for this reason that he is highly honored in Sweden to this day.

The Church of England has enjoyed centuries of happy relations with the Scandinavian churches, especially with the Church of Sweden. The Episcopal Church in America includes "Old Swedes" churches, established by the Church of Sweden in colonial times. The feast of Anskar provides an appropriate occasion to thank God for the gift of friendship among Swedish, English, and American Christians.

O Lord, bless Anskar and the Scandanavian peoples. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

Almighty and everlasting God, you sent your servant Anskar as an apostle to the people of Scandinavia, and enabled him to lay a firm foundation for their conversion, though he did not see the results of his labors: Keep your Church from discouragement in the day of small things, knowing that when you have begun a good work, you will bring it to a fruitful conclusion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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