Saint William of Roskilde
Jul 10, 2015 / Written by: America Needs Fatima
Feast September 2
Bishop of Roskilde
William was an Anglo-Saxon priest, who was appointed as chaplain to Canute, the King of England and Denmark.
He traveled with the king to Denmark and remained behind to evangelize the country when he saw how the people were in need. He was consecrated as the Bishop of Roskilde in 1044.
During the subsequent reign of King Sweyn Estridsson Ulfsson, or Sweyn II, the friendship that had been forged between the king and the bishop was sorely tested.
One New Year's Eve it was reported to the king that several of his guests and hired men had insulted him. King Sweyn was so angry that he had them slain in church while they were hearing Matins sung.
The next morning, the king, accompanied by his armed entourage, attempted to enter the church to attend Mass. At the door, they were blocked by the unarmed bishop. “Stand back, executioner!” the holy bishop exclaimed and declared the king excommunicated.
The king's men drew their swords, but Bishop William stood his ground, and the king and his party withdrew.
Some time later, the repentant monarch, barefooted and garbed in sackcloth returned.
Expressing his heartfelt contrition, the king humbly asked for forgiveness and, in the presence of his subjects, performed public penance, whereupon the bishop gave him absolution for his crime and lifted the excommunication.
From that time onward, the two worked in perfect harmony together to counter superstition and spread the light of the Faith in Denmark. When King Sweyn died, his body was temporally held at Ringsted until the construction of the Cathedral of Roskilde was completed.
It is said that when the bishop went out to meet the body, he himself died and was buried next to his friend.