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Rabanus Maurus, Bl.


Rabanus (Hrabanus, Rhabanus) Magnentius Maurus, Benedictine theologian, Praeceptor Germaniae, abbot of Fulda, archbishop of Mainz; b. Mainz, of a noble family (hence Magnentius?), 776 (784?); d. Winkel (Vinicellum) on the Rhine, Feb. 4, 856. Rabanus received his early education at Fulda, where he was ordained deacon in 801. In 802 he was sent to Tours to study under alcuin, from whom he received the sobriquet "Maurus" (a reference to St. Maur, disciple of St. Benedict) in recognition of his scholastic abilities. Recalled to Fulda in 803, he was made director of the monastic school there, which became, under his guidance, one of the most outstanding in Germany, numbering among its pupils such famous personages as walafrid strabo and Otfrid of Weissenburg. Rabanus was ordained on Dec. 12, 814. From 822 to 842, as abbot of Fulda, he furthered the spiritual, intellectual, and temporal welfare of the monastery, erected buildings and churches, collected MSS and art treasures, and continued his own scholarly, literary, and exegetical endeavors. In the political struggle between Louis the Pious and his sons, Rabanus supported Louis and, on Louis' death, gave his allegiance to lothair i. When the latter was defeated by Louis the German in 840, Rabanus fled his monastery. He returned in 841 but retired in 842 to nearby Petersberg, where he devoted himself to prayer and literary work until he was called in 847 to become archbishop of Mainz. As archbishop he was zealous in instructing clergy and laity, in combating social disorders, and in defending sound doctrine. He held three provincial synods: in 847, to deal with matters of ecclesiastical discipline; in 848, to condemn the monk gottschalk of orbais and his doctrine of predestination to evil as well as to good; in 852 (851?), to deal with the rights and disciplines of the Church.

Rabanus was a voluminous writer. He produced a study on grammar (De arte grammatica), a collection of homilies for the Church year (not all certainly his), two penitentials, a martyrology, and some Latin poetry (the veni creator spiritus is probably not his), which reveals him as a skilled versifier but a mediocre poet. In addition, he compiled a pedagogical treatise (De institutione clericorum ) in three books, composed not later than 819 and relying heavily on Augustine, Gregory the Great, and Isidore; an encyclopedic dictionary (usually entitled De universo, though more properly called De rerum naturis ), consisting of 22 books based on the Etymologies of isidore of seville; and extensive commentaries on the Bible (among others, on the Heptateuch, Ruth, Proverbs, Jeremias, Ezechiel, Wisdom, Maccabees, Matthew, and the Pauline Epistles). Though a learned and scholarly man (he was probably unequaled in his lifetime for scriptural and patristic learning), Rabanus was by no means an original thinker. His writings, compiled, like those of Alcuin, with the help of pupils, consist in large part of extracts from other sources and are important more for their role in the carolingian renaissance and in the establishment of learning in Germany than for any intrinsic merit of their own. There is no complete critical edition of his works. Rabanus was buried in the monastery of St. Albans at Mainz, but his relics were later translated to Halle by Abp. albrecht of brandenburg. He is honored as a saint (or beatus ) in Mainz, Fulda, Limburg, and Breslau.

Feast: Feb. 4.

Bibliography: Editions. Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v., indexes 4 v. (Paris 187890), v.107112, reproduces Hrabani Mauri opera, ed. j. de pamele (d. 1587) 6 v. in 3 (Cologne 162627). Rabanus' extensive and important correspondence is in Monumenta Germaniae Historica Epistolae (Berlin 1826 ), 5.2:37533. De institutione clericorum, ed. a. knoepfler (Munich 1900). The poems are in Monumenta Germaniae Historica Poetae (Berlin 1826), 2:154258; Analecta hymnica (Leipzig 18861922), 50:180209. The Life by his disciple Rudolfus [Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v., indexes 4 v. (Paris 187890), v.107] is unreliable. Literature. w. kosch, Deutsches Literatur-Lexikon, ed. b. berger in 1 v. (Bern 1963) 189, selected bibliog. to 1960. a. hauck, Kirchengeschichte Deutschelands, 5 v. (9th ed. BerlinLeipzig 1958), 2:638659, passim. p. lehmann, "Zu Hrabans geistiger Bedeutung," in Sankt Bonifatius: Gedenkgabe zum zwölfhundertsten Todestag (Fulda 1954) 473487. h. peltier, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 13.2:160120, good bibliog. m. manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, 3 v. (Munich 191131) 1:288302. m. bernards, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Frieburg 195765) 5:499500.

[m. f. mccarthy]

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