St. Sigfrid of Wexlow, Bishop
Born in Glastonbury, England (?); died at Vaxjo, Sweden, c. 1045.
Tradition says that the patron saint of Sweden is an Englishman, Sigfrid, who reached Sweden as a result of a call from King Olaf Tryggvason of Norway, who had been converted himself by another Englishman, Saint Alphege. Sigfrid is said to have been born in Northumberland, become a priest at York or Glastonbury, and was sent by King Ethelred as a missionary to Norway with two other bishops, Grimkel and John.
They laboured under the protection of the archbishop of Bremen (Germany). After converting many pagans, Sigfrid continued on to Sweden in 1008. Saint Ansgar had planted the seeds of faith in Sweden in 830; but the country had relapsed into paganism soon after his time. A second wave of missionary saints, including Sigfrid, followed about two centuries later.
There he built himself a wooden church at Vaxjo in southern Sweden, and laboured with success in the Smaeland and Vastergotland districts. He converted twelve of the principal men of the province, then many others followed their example. The fountain near the mountain of Ostrabo, since called Wexlow) in which Sigfrid baptized the catechumens, long retained the names of the first 12 converts, engraved on a monument.
Others, including the King Saint Olaf Skotkonung of Sweden, were attracted out of curiosity to see the rich fabrics and beautiful vessels used during the celebration of the Divine Service, to hear his preaching, and to observe the dignity and majesty of the Christian worship. That attracted them first. But it was the example of the lives of Sigfrid and his companion missionaries that open their eyes of faith and led to the baptism of so many others including the king, who was baptized at Husaby (one of the sites in Sigrid Undset’s book Kristin Lavransdatter) in a spring that later bore Sigfrid’s name and was the channel of many miracles.
Sigfrid ordained and consecrated two native bishops to govern neighbouring territories, but he retained the episcopacy of Vaxjo while he lived. His three nephews– Unaman, a priest; Sunaman, a deacon; and Winaman, a subdeacon
Image: Photo by Klafui – http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sankt_Sigfrid http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bild:Sigfrid_Overgarn.gif, Public Domain, Link