Memorial of St. Ludolph of Ratzeburg, O. Praem.
(b. unknown, † March 29, 1250)
- Mitre = Bishop
- Chains = Imprisonment
- Palm branch = Martyr
Ludolph was a Norbertine canon who was appointed to the See of the newly-formed Prince-Bishopric of Ratzeburg in 1236. He led such a strict religious life that his community was nicknamed the “carcer ordinis” (Prison of the Order).
Like a good shepherd, Ludolph focused all his energies on the care of souls. He preached and made pastoral visitations. The pope entrusted him with several political missions, forcing him to fight for the rights and freedom of the Church. His most difficult trial involved standing up to Prince Albert, the “Bear of Saxony,” who had taken possession of cathedral properties—an act that Ludolph resisted. The prince’s insults and threats did not intimidate him. The Duke had him imprisoned, where he was beaten and later sent into exile. Albert consequently ordered Ludolph thrown into a dungeon, where he had to suffer severe tortures. Realizing that his treatment of the bishop was unpopular, the prince decided to set Ludolph free. After his release from prison, he was brought half-dead to the Franciscans at Wismar, where he died a few days later on March 29, 1250.
After his death, those who visited his grave in the Cathedral of Ratzeburg reported numerous favors received. Ludolph is venerated as a “Martyr for the freedom of the Church.” The centuries-old veneration of Ludolph was confirmed and extended to the whole order by Pope Benedict XIII on April 12, 1728.
The head of Ludolph was kept in the possession of the Norbertine nuns of Meer in Prussia, beginning in the 17th century. After the secularization of this convent, the relic came into the possession the abbot of Hamborn in 1826. On March 5, 1984, the Congregation for Divine Worship granted permission for the public veneration of the three Norbertine bishop-saints of Ratzeburg: Ludolph, Evermode and Isfrid.
Date(s) - Sunday April 26, 2020