Memorial of St. Evermode of Ratzeburg, O. Praem.
(b. unknown, † February 17, 1178)
- Crosier and miter = Bishop
- Aspergilla and aspersorium = Blessing
- O.I. = Anointing
Evermode was born in Belgium around 1100. After hearing a sermon preached by Norbert of Xanten, he was so struck by the personality and words of this apostolic man that he left everything to join him in 1120, becoming one of his most loyal disciples. Evermode was probably ordained a priest by Norbert himself and was certainly present when Norbert transformed the chapter of Our Lady in Magdeburg into a community of the order. He remained Norbert’s companion until Norbert’s death on June 6, 1134. Evermode stood by his master at his deathbed and later took care to see that Norbert was buried in the church of the monastery of Our Lady in Magdeburg.
Evermode adhered to what Norbert considered the stricter rule of St. Augustine, the “ordo monasterii,” and followed in Norbert’s footsteps in the areas of clerical reform and the conversion of the pagan Wends. He was elected leader of Our Lady at Magdeburg, a post he held from 1138 to 1154. In this function he founded the Norbertine monasteries of Havelberg, Jericho, Quedlinburg, and Pöhlde.
When the diocese of Ratzeburg was reestablished in 1154, Evermode became its first bishop and converted the newly-installed cathedral chapter into a Norbertine chapter. It was not easy for Evermode to be caught between the prince of Bavaria and Saxony (upon whom he was dependent both politically and financially) and the prince’s adversary (who claimed the rights of the Metropolitan over Ratzeburg and was opposed in principle to bishops who were members of religious orders). Consequently, Evermode had himself consecrated bishop by the Archbishop of Mainz.
Driven by apostolic ideal, Evermode traveled throughout his diocese preaching the Word and became for his people a light of truth. The conversion of the pagan Wends was his first concern. Future generations, even among the Protestants, gave Evermode the titles “Light of the Saxons” and “Apostle of the Wends.”
Old and weakened by his many labors, Evermode died as bishop of Ratzeburg on February 17, 1178, after an episcopate of 24 years. He was buried in the Romanesque cathedral of Ratzeburg. Pope Benedict XIII confirmed his cult on January 22, 1728.
Date(s) - Sunday February 17, 2019