Frederick lived in ninth-century Utrecht, in the central part of the Netherlands. When he was ordained a priest, Bishop Ricfried put him in charge of instructing converts. Around 825, he was chosen to succeed Ricfried as bishop of Utrecht. Bishop Frederick became acquainted with the people of his diocese. He really cared about them. He gave high priority to missionary work too. In fact, he sent St. Odulf and other brave priests to areas where the people were still pagan. He wanted them to hear the Good News.
Because of his position as bishop, Frederick made a few enemies. The emperor's sons were very outspoken about their stepmother's immoral living. They asked Bishop Frederick to speak to Empress Judith. The bishop approached her gently but honestly. The empress did not take the advice well. She grew angry and was insulted.
Another challenge was the people who lived in the northern part of Frederick's diocese called Walcheren. St. Frederick sent priests to bring the people there the love of Jesus. Frederick knew the area was dangerous and unfriendly. He kept close to the priests whom he sent. He encouraged them and tried to help the people receive Christianity. But they were not ready to listen in any way. They resented the bishop's concern for them.
St. Frederick continued his care of the diocese with love and diligence. Then on July 18, 838, a tragedy happened. The bishop had just celebrated Mass. He was quietly making his thanksgiving when two men lunged at him with knives. A sentence from Psalm 116 came to mind. Slowly, the dying bishop prayed: "I walk before the Lord in the land of the living." A few minutes later he died.
Some say Empress Judith sent the hired killers because of her hatred for the bishop. Others think the guilty party was the people from Walcheren. The murderers were never caught and convicted. But Bishop Frederick is honored as a martyr and a saint.
When we find ourselves fearful of the things that surround our world, we may want to slowly pray from Psalm 116: "I walk before the Lord in the land of the living."