Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume XI: November. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Harold VI., King of Denmark, Martyr
THE ARCHBISHOPS of Bremen from St. Willehad the apostle of Saxony, and St. Anscharius, the first archbishop of Bremen, laboured successfully in planting the faith in the northern parts of Europe. Eric the Younger, king of Denmark, was converted to the faith by St. Anscharius. But his successors persecuted the Christians till Fronto VI. king of Denmark, brother and successor of Swein I. embraced the faith of Christ in his wars in England, and sent an ambassador to Pope Agapetus II. about the year 950; but died before the return of the embassy, so that his conversion produced little fruit in that nation. Gormo III. the third king from him, was a cruel persecutor of the Christians, and demolished a church which they had built at Sleswic. But marrying Thyra, an English princess, he promised to become a Christian. His son and successor, Harold VI. surnamed Blodrand, embraced the faith with great ardour, and filled his dominions with churches and preachers; in which, he was chiefly assisted by Adalbag, the most zealous archbishop of Bremen, the seventh from St. Anscharius, contemporary with Otho the Great, who, about the same time, founded the city and church of Magdeburgh. Adalbag instituted three bishoprics in Jutland, which this king endowed. When he had reigned many years, his son Swein, surnamed Tweskegk, who remained at that time an idolater,1 stirred up the people to demand the restoration of their idols, and their ancient liberty to plunder their neighbours. The king was wounded in battle by one Toko, a leader of the malecontents, and died some days after of his wounds, on the 1st of November, 980. He was buried in the church of the Holy Trinity, which he had founded at Roschilde, and which continues to this day the burial-place of the Danish kings. On a pillar in the choir, over the grave of this king, is his effigies, with this inscription: Harold, King of Dacia, (or Denmark,) England, and Norway, founder of this church. Though many historians style him martyr, he is not named in the Roman Martyrology. See Vetus Historia Regum Daniæ, prefixed to Lindenbruchs edition of Adam Bremensis.
Note 1. Swein Tweskegk for his crimes was expelled Denmark by has own subjects; but, after having lived fourteen years in Sweden, recovered the crown, and was converted to the faith by Poppo, a preacher sent from Bremen. Afterwards he invaded and conquered great part of England, where he died. He was succeeded in Denmark by his eldest son Harold; after whom his second son Knut the Great, called by the Danes Gamle Knut, became king of Denmark, Norway, and England, and by sending over many learned preachers from England, completed the conversion of Denmark. The Danish kings took the title of kings of England during the space of one hundred and twenty years, till Harold VII. The churches of Denmark continued subject to the archbishops of Bremen till the reign of Eric III., surnamed the Good, when an archbishopric was erected at Lunden about the year 1100. [back]