EGBERT, SAINT: Early English saint; b. of noble lineage in Northumbria 639; d. at Iona Easter day, Apr. 24, 729. In his youth he went to Ireland for study, accompanied by Ceadda (q.v.) and others. Seized by the plague in 664, he vowed that, if he recovered, he would never return to Britain, would recite the Psalter daily, and would fast a day and a night every week. This vow he kept faithfully and added to it new austerities. He became a priest, renowned for humility, kindness, and learning. He desired to preach the Gospel to the tribes on the continent from whom the Angles and Saxons of Britain had sprung, gathered a company, and set sail (686 or 687); but, warned by visions, as he supposed, and driven back by a storm, he returned to Ireland. His interest continued, however, and about 690 he sent an Englishman, Witbert, on an unsuccessful mission to the Frisians, and in 692 he despatched Willibrord (q.v.) and his company. He did much to persuade the Irish to conform to Rome in regard to Easter and the tonsure, and in 716 went to Iona and worked successfully and with much tact for the same end there and on the mainland of Scotland.


Bibliography: Bede, Hist. eccl., iii. 4, 27, iv. 3, v. 9, 10, 22, 23; ASB, April, iii. 313-315, cf. 997; Rettberg, KD, ii. 513; W. F. Skene, Celtic Scotland, ii. 278-282, Edinburgh, 1880; DCB, ii. 49 sqq.; DNB, xvii. 146 sqq.; Hauck, KD, i. 416-417.