Saint of the Day – 18 July – St Frederick (c 815 – c 838) Martyr, Bishop – died on 18 July 8383 by being stabbed to death just after saying Mass.
Frederick was born around 780 in Friesland and was a grandson of the Frisian King Radboud. At a young age he was taught at Utrecht by the clergy, including Bishop Ricfried. He was trained in piety and sacred learning among the clergy of the Church of Utrecht. Being ordained priest, he was charged by Bishop Ricfried with the care of instructing converts and about 825 he was chosen to succeed him as Bishop of Utrecht. The new bishop at once began to establish order everywhere and sent St Odulf and other zealous and virtuous labourers, into the northern parts, to dispel the paganism which still subsisted there.
Given his reach and reputation, Saint Frederick was soon embroiled in the political matters of the times. Saint Frederick found himself in the position to admonish the Empress Judith, after her sons raised charges against her, citing immorality. While Frederick spoke to her with patience, prudence and charity, she became irate and worked to undermine him. Similarly, he raised the ire of many of those throughout the land who did not ascribe to the Christian faith, enforcing marriages and spreading the Gospel. Through his labours, he found himself greatly disliked by many dangerous and powerful individuals. Saint Frederick refused to be intimidated, however, certain in the power of the Lord.
On 18 July 838, following celebration of the Mass, Saint Frederick was stabbed by two assassins. He died only minutes later, reciting Psalm 144, “I will praise the Lord in the land of the living.” It is unclear as to who had ordered the assassination but historians agree it was due to his preaching and enforcing of the tenets of the faith. As such, the Church considers Saint Frederick a holy Martyr, having given his life to the faith and suffered death as a consequence.
St Frederick composed a prayer to the Blessed Trinity which for many ages was used in the Netherlands. The reputation of his sanctity appears from a poem of Rabanus Maurus, his contemporary, in praise of his virtues.