Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Henry (fl.1150)

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HENRY, Saint (fl. 1150), an Englishman by birth, was bishop of Upsala in the reign of Saint Eric (IX), king of Sweden (1150?-1160). The statements of some Swedish historians, that he went to Sweden in the train of his fellow-countryman, Nicholas Breakspear, whom Pope Eugene III sent as legate to Scandinavia in 1148, and that he was consecrated by Nicolas in 1148 or 1152, seem to be mere conjectures; his earliest biographer simply says that he and the king were the two great lights who lighted their people in the way of true religion, righteousness, and peace; that he assisted Eric in his reforms, both secular and ecclesiastical; that he accompanied him in an expedition against the heathen Finns, which resulted in their total defeat and subjection, in the baptism of many converts, and the foundation of churches in Finland; that when the king returned home in triumph the bishop remained to water the seed which he had thus sown, till his zeal in enforcing the church's penitential discipline won him the crown of martyrdom at the hands of a man whom he had laid under ecclesiastical censure for homicide. Eric's conquest of Finland is placed by different authorities at dates ranging from 1150 to 1157; the date of Henry's martyrdom, therefore, remains in a like uncertainty. The name of his slayer, Lalli, seems to be preserved in a Finnish proverb (Scriptt. Rer. Svecic. vol. ii. pt. i. p. 332). No authority is known for the statement of Vastovius that St. Henry was canonised by Adrian IV in 1158; but he was undoubtedly recognised in the fourteenth century, if not earlier, as the apostle of Finland, and one of the patron saints of Sweden. Two festivals were kept in his honour, that of his martyrdom on 19 Jan., and that of his translation on 18 June; the latter commemorated the removal of his relics from their original burial-place at Nousis, near Abo, to the cathedral church of Abo itself, built after the foundation of a bishopric in that town, A.D. 1300, and dedicated to St. Henry. The relics, enclosed in an iron chest which had replaced the silver shrine made for them by the first bishop of Abo, were still there in the middle of the seventeenth century.

[Our earliest extant authority is the Vita et Miracula S. Henrici, which cannot have been written till near the middle of the thirteenth century; it is printed in Vastovius's Vitis Aquilonia and in the Acta Sanctorum, 19 Jan. ii. 613–14, and also, from another manuscript, in Benzelius's Monumentorum veterum Ecclesiæ Sveogothicæ Prolegomena, and in Scriptores Rerum Svecicarum, ed. Fant, &c., vol. ii. pt. i. The last-mentioned editors have collected some traditions relating to the saint; other accounts of him are summarised and sifted in H. G. Porthan's notes to P. Juusten's Chronicon Episcoporum Finlandensium.]

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