Memorial of St. Evermode of Ratzeburg, O. Praem.
(b. unknown, † February 17, 1178)
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.
- Crosier and miter = Bishop
- Aspergilla and aspersorium = Blessing
- O.I. = Anointing
Feast of Bl. Oda of Bonne Rivreuille, O. Praem.
(c. 1134, † April 18, 1158)
Oda was born around 1134 in France of both noble and Christian stock. Oda wanted to contribute to the honor of her royal house and aspired to a life of holiness. From her childhood she was a very pious girl and had a special love for purity, believing that the life of the cloister would be her best protection. At the beginning of her adolescence she made a secret vow of chastity, but being too young to enter the convent she remained with her parents, devoting many hours to prayer.
Oda’s parents, however, wanted her to marry. On the day of her arranged wedding, she refused to respond to the usual questions. After being prodded to say something, Oda said, “Since you want me to say that it pleases me to take this young man as my husband, you must know that I will never marry him or any other. I have bound myself from my childhood to a Spouse to whom I have vowed my virginity. Neither love, nor riches, nor threats, nor even blows can separate me from His embrace.” Still, her parents continued to pressure their daughter to marry.
In order not to prolong the conflict, Oda disfigured her face by cutting off her nose. Hearing of her plight, Abbot Odon from the Premonstratensian convent at Rivreuille sent two confreres to the castle to console the brave child. Oda again asked her father’s permission to enter the cloister, declaring that if he did not accede to her wishes, she would continue to disfigure herself. Overcome, her father gave his permission. Abbot Odon clothed her with the white habit himself.
Oda began her religious life with profound humility, a burning desire for sanctification, complete detachment, and obedience. Eventually Oda was elected prioress. She had a heart full of compassion for the poor, the sick, and the needy, and did everything she could to lighten their burdens.
While still relatively young, Oda grew feeble and ill. She died on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1158, surrounded by her sisters. In his sermon at her funeral, Abbot Philip of Harvengt of Bonne-Espérance said, “She has borne her name with truth. She was indeed a very special ‘ode’ to the honor of God.”
- Crown = Nobility
- Pectoral cross = Prioress
- Nose and dagger = Disfigurement
- Lilies = Virginity
- Book = Biography