A Saint a day: April 24
Ecgberht was an Anglo-Saxon nobleman, probably from Northumbria. In 664, as a youth, he traveled to Ireland to study. One of his acquaintances at this time was Chad. He settled at the monastery of Rathelmigisi (Rathmelsigi), identified with Mellifont in County Louth or else in Connaught. His Northumbrian traveling companions, including thelhun, died of the plague, and he contracted it as well.
Ecgberht vowed that if he recovered, he would become a “peregrinus” on perpetual pilgrimage from his homeland of Britain and would lead a life of penitential prayer and fasting. He was twenty-five, and when he recovered he kept his vow until his death at age 90. According to Henry Mayr-Harting, Ecgberht was one of the most famous pilgrims of the early Middle Ages, and occupied a prominent position in a political and religious culture that spanned northern Britain and the Irish Sea.
He began to organize monks in Ireland to proselytize in Frisia; many other high-born notables were associated with his work: Saint Adalbert, Saint Swithbert, and Saint Chad. Ecgberht arranged the mission of Saint Willibrord, Saint Wigbert and others to the pagans. He, however, was dissuaded from this by a vision related to him by a monk who had been a disciple of Saint Boisil (the Prior of Melrose under Abbot Eata). Ecgberht instead dispatched Wihtberht, another Englishman living at Rath Melsigi, to Frisia.
In 684, he tried to dissuade King Ecgfrith of Northumbria from sending an expedition to Ireland under his general Berht, but he was unsuccessful.
While in Ireland, Ecgberht was one of those present at the Synod of Birr in 697, when the Cin Adomnin was guaranteed.
Ecgberht had influential contacts with the kings of Northumbria and of the Picts, as well as with Iona, which he persuaded to adopt the Roman Easter dating about 716. He died on the first day that the Easter feast was observed by this manner in the monastery, on 24 April 729.
His feast day in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, April 24, is found in both the Roman, Irish, and Slavic martyrologies and in the metrical calendar of York. Though he is now honoured simply as a confessor, it is probable that St. Ecgberht was a bishop.
Saint Ecgberht ought not to be confused with the later Ecgberht, Archbishop of York.