Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Eskill, Bishop and Martyr in Sweden

Article

This saint was an Englishman by birth; but so long as the Catholic religion flourished in the northern kingdoms of Europe, was honoured in that part of the universe as one of the most illustrious martyrs of the gospel of Christ. Saint Anscharius, archbishop of Bremen, having by his zealous labours laid the foundation of a numerous church in Sweden, was obliged to return into Germany. After his departure the Swedes returned to their paganish superstition, and expelled Simon, whom Saint Anscharius had left bishop of that church. The news of this apostacy afflicted extremely the servants of God who inhabited the northern provinces of England, and Saint Sigefride, archbishop of York, resolved to undertake a mission in person to rescue so many souls that were running upon the very brink of perdition. Eskill, his kinsman, desirous to have a share in this laborious and dangerous enterprise, accompanied him thither, and behaved in that country with so much zeal and prudence that, at the request of the king and people, Saint Sigefride, before his return to England, consecrated him bishop at a place called Nordhan’s Kogh. By his zealous labours, which were supported by the example of his apostolic life, the church was exceedingly propagated, till good King Ingon was slain by the infidels, and the wicked Sweno, surnamed the Bloody, placed on the throne. Upon this revolution they revived their most impious and barbarous superstitions, with which they celebrated a most solemn festival at a place called Strengis. Saint Eskill’s zeal was enkindled at such abominations, and attended by several of his clergy and of the faithful, he hastened to the place of the sacrilegious assembly. There he strongly exhorted the idolaters to renounce their impious worship. Finding them deaf to his remonstrances, he addressed his prayers to the Almighty, beseeching Him by some visible sign to give evidence that He alone was the true God. Instantly a violent storm of hail, thunder, and rain fell upon the spot, and destroyed the altar and sacrifices. This prodigy the infidels ascribed to art or magic, with which they charged the saint, and by the king’s orders they stoned him to death. His sacred body was buried in the spot upon which he suffered martyrdom, and soon after a church was there built, in which his sacred remains were exposed to the veneration of the faithful, and were honoured with miracles. He glorified God by martyrdom in the eleventh century. His festival was formerly kept on this day in Sweden, Poland, and other northern countries.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Eskill, Bishop and Martyr in Sweden”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 15 June 2013. Web. 20 April 2014. <>