Saint Willibrord: ‘My God Is Stronger Than Your Devils’

Kim Rendfeld

When Charlemagne destroyed the Irminsul in 772 (a devastating event for my heroine in The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar), he was not the first to meddle with a site sacred to pagans. Decades earlier, Saint Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, chopped down Donar’s Oak. And before Boniface, there was Saint Willibrord, a bishop Boniface assisted in Frisia from 719 to 722.

Statue of Willibrord by Albert Termote Statue of Willibrord by Albert Termote (1889-1978) (Wikimedia Commons image used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License).

In the late seventh and early eighth centuries, Willibrord traveled as a missionary to northern Francia, Frisia, and Denmark, the last of which he gave up on except for 30 boys. Alcuin’s The Life of Saint Willibrord recounts an unplanned visit to Fositeland (Heligoland), a North Sea island between Denmark and Frisia.

Willibrord and his companions were blown to the island by a storm and stayed there to…

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