St. Frederick, grandson of King Radbon of the Frisians, was educated by the clergy of the church of Utrecht, and later became a priest known for his great piety and learning. He was placed in charge of instructing catechumens and was eventually elected Bishop of Utrecht around the year 825.
The new bishop at once began to put his diocese in order and sent St. Odulf and other missionaries into the northern parts to dispel the paganism which still existed there. For himself, Frederick reserved the most difficult territory, Walcheren, an island belonging to the Netherlands which was rampant with incestuous marriages. He worked unceasingly to eradicate this evil and brought countless penitents back to God.
During this same period, Frederick was told of immoralities committed by the Empress Judith. The saintly bishop went to the court with the purpose of admonishing her with charity, but only succeeded in incurring the Empress’ ill will.
On July 18, 838, after Frederick had celebrated Mass and was about to make his thanksgiving in a side chapel, he was stabbed by two assassins. He died a few minutes later, reciting the psalm “I will praise the Lord in the land of the living.” One theory claims that the assassins were sent by the Empress in revenge; more likely, however, is that they were sent by some inhabitants of Walcheren who deeply resented the bishop’s evangelization efforts in their territory.
St. Frederick composed a prayer to the Blessed Trinity which for centuries was used in the Netherlands. The reputation of his sanctity appears in a poem in praise of his virtues by Blessed Rabanus Maurus, his contemporary.
1. Correcting others with charity is not something most people enjoy doing; however we have our Lord’s admonition to do so in the Gospel of Matthew: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault….” Let us ask Christ for the grace to know when to speak and when to keep silent, and like St. Frederick, not to be afraid of possible retribution when we do speak the truth.
2. Paganism and incest sound like sins of the past that have no bearing today. While they may not worship gods of stone and wood, many today still worship the gods of fame, power, and wealth. Incest may not be as common, but unspeakable sins of the flesh are still rampant. Let us pray to St. Frederick for help in eradicating these evils from our lives and the lives of those around us.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Camillus de Lellis (1614), Priest, Founder, Patron of the sick and nurses
St. Symphorosa and her 7 sons (120), Martyrs
photo via Wikimedia Commons