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oud zeilschip op zee

2.27 How did Northern Europe become Catholic?

Muslims, barbarians, and the Orthodox

At the beginning of the fifth century AD, St. Patrick brought the gospel from England to Ireland, where thriving monastic communities developed. In turn, these communities preached the gospel in Scotland and on the European mainland.

In the late sixth century, Pope Gregory the Great sent missionaries to Northern Europe, including the Low Countries (i.e. the present-day Netherlands). The faith in Northern Europe was particularly influenced by the Irish and English missionaries who crossed the sea to the mainland in the seventh and eight centuries, like St. Willibrord and St. Boniface.

> Read more in the book

In the eighth century, missionaries from England and Ireland, such as Willibrord and Boniface, proclaimed the faith in Northern Europe.

This is what the Popes say

The commemoration of the founder of the Church in the Netherlands has shown his great qualities: Christian, monk, missionary, bishop, saint. He left everything behind to spread the faith in Christ, to bring the good news to people that had not heard this before… Saint Willibrord wrote about himself: "Now he lives happily in the name of God in the year 728 after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ”. [John Paul II, Homily, 8 Nov. 1990]