St. Ansgar, "Apostle of the North"

My friend John Cecil is studying abroad in Denmark this semester. He informed me that the only Catholic church around (Denmark is about 2 or 3 percent Catholic) is St. Ansgar Catholic Church, so he asked before he left that I offer a prayer every now and then to this particular saint. Yesterday was his feast day, hence a reminder to offer another prayer.

I generally like to know (about) a saint before I ask for his intercession.

A Benedictine monk, St. Ansgar, from an early moment, wanted to be a martyr; he wanted to physically die for Christ, feeling that would give his life meaning.

It is said that Ansgar had a life-chaning experience when he had a vision in which his mother was in the heavenly kingdom in the presense of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Devotion to Mary was, from what I understand, the means by which he himself was converted. And probably the means by which he was able to convert so many others.

Ansgar never was able to achieve martyrdom in the physical sense, but he suffered enough that he did have to offer quite a bit up to the Lord. He converted many people, even when he encountered those who, through force, attempted to silence him. You see, he knew it was wise to begin spreading the faith with those at the top of the food chain. He converted the king of Denmark and countless others. He was influential in the king of Sweeden allowing many missionaries to conduct their work.