Memorial of St. Isfried of Ratzeburg, O. Praem.
(c. 1115, † June 15, 1204)
- Mitre = Bishop
- Flagellum = Penance
Isfried was born around the year 1115 and eventually became a canon in the abbey of Cappenberg. In 1159 he was named the first provost of Jerichow where he built a magnificent Romanesque church.
At the urging of Prince Henry of Bavaria and Saxony, the followers of Norbert turned their attention to the conversion of the pagan Wends. Through the intervention of Prince Henry, Isfried was chosen Bishop of Ratzeburg in 1178 as successor of St. Evermode. He completed the building of the cathedral begun under Evermode and established many parishes.
Isfried was inclined to be strict in penitential practices. Toward the rebellious Wends, however, he was a mild judge, converting them through his preaching. In the year 1190 he visited the abbey of Floreffe in Belgium and consecrated the seven altars of its church, which had been destroyed by a fire. In the same year he also consecrated the Romanesque church of Postel, a daughter house of Floreffe.
In the struggles between the imperial and the papal parties, in spite of all the threats and protests, he sided with the defeated Duke Henry of Saxony and Bavaria, to whom he had once swore fealty. He remained the confessor and spiritual director of Prince Henry, to whom he ministered at his deathbed in 1195.
Exalted through many miracles during his life and after death, he was a true light in a time of much darkness. Isfried died on June 15, 1204, at the age of 90, and was buried in the Cathedral of Ratzeburg next to St. Evermode.
On March 20, 1728, Pope Benedict XIII approved of Isfrid’s sanctity and cult. His memorial to Isfried reads: “St. Isfried of Ratzeburg died as a man of great patience, of greatest temperance, totally dedicated to religious practices. His influence extended far over the German Northeast. When the monastery of Floreffe at Namur was devastated by fire and the religious were dispersed, Isfried called them back.”
Date(s) - Saturday June 15, 2019