Willibrord's father was a recluse and eventually became a hermit. At the age of 7 yrs, Willibrord was sent away to be trained as a church boy and was educated by Wilfrid in his monastery at Ripon.
In 678 Willibrord went to Rathmelsigi, Ireland, to improve his education, and while there, became enthusiastic about missionary work. After 12 years in Ireland, he was ordained as priest, and with a number of companions, set out to preach the gospel on the lower Rhine, in what we now call The Netherlands. The Frisians who inhabited this region were being incorporated into the growing Frankish Empire.
In 695, Willibrord went back to Rome and was himself consecrated bishop, with instructions to put the organisation of the church on a sound footing. He established his centre at Utrecht and founded several monasteries, the largest of which was at Echternach in what is now Luxembourg.
Willibrord is described as shorter than average and cheerful. He possessed a quick tongue, a good education, an appetite for adventure, and a sense of humour - not to forget: faith, hope, and charity. He was a patient, thorough worker, content to lay good foundations, on which later evangelists could build. This was the beginning of a century of English missionary work in Europe. He founded monasteries and appointed bishops to new dioceses and did much to establish the church on a sound base in the face of pagan opposition.
BORN: 658 in Northumbria, England.
DIED: 7 November 739 in Echternach, Luxembourg.