Ebner, Margaretha, Bl.

views updated


Mystic, Dominican virgin; b. c. 1291, Donauwörth (near Nuremberg), Bavaria, Germany; d. June 20, 1351, Medingen, Bavaria, Germany. A child of the nobility, Margaretha received a classical education at home. She was solemnly professed (1306) at the Dominican convent at Maria-Medingen near Dillingen. Dangerously ill for many years, Ebner offered penancesabstinence from wine, fruit, and the bathfor those who had died in the war devastating the countryside. She was suddenly cured, but then forced with the other sisters to leave the convent during the campaign of Ludwig the Bavarian. Shortly thereafter the death of her nurse, to whom she was emotionally attached, caused Margaretha to grieve inconsolably. But in 1332 she regained her composure through the efforts of Henry of Nördlingen, who then assumed her spiritual direction. The correspondence between them is the first collection of this kind in German. Under his tutelage, she wrote with her own hand a full account of all her revelations and conversations with the Infant Jesus, including the answers she received from him, even in her sleep. This diary is preserved at Medingen in a manuscript that dates to 1353. From her letters and diary we learn that she remained loyal to the excommunicated Ludwig the Bavarian, whose soul she learned in a vision had been saved. Among her other correspondents were many contemporary spiritual leaders, including Johannes Tauler. She is considered one of the leaders of the Friends of God. Her body now rests in a chapel built in 1755 in the Maria-Medingen Convent church. Pope John Paul II praised Ebner, the first person he beatified (Feb. 24, 1979), for her perseverance.

Feast: June 20 (Dominicans).

Bibliography: m. ebner, Major Works, tr. & ed. l. p. hindsley (New York 1993). m. grabmann, Neuaufgefundene lateinische Werke deutscher Mystiker (Munich 1922). p. strauch, Margeretha Ebner und Heinrich von Nördlingen (Amsterdam 1966). a. walz, "Gottesfreunde und Margarete Ebner," in Historisches Jahrbuch (1953), 72:253265. l. zoepf, Die mystikerin Margaretha Ebner (Berlin 1914).

[k. i. rabenstein]