Blessed Rabanus Maurus

Author: Rev. Steven Clifford


Feast: February 4

Rabanus Maurus was a young boy who loved to study and became a disciple of the great Englishmen who brought learning and holiness to the kingdom of Charlemagne. He was born in 784, when the Carolingian renaissance was at its height, and his parents sent him to be educated at St. Boniface's great monastery of Fulda, which had a famous school. So remarkable was he as a student that the abbot of Fulda sent him to study under Charlemagne's own schoolmaster, Alcuin, at Tours, and it was under this teacher that he received the name Maurus, after St. Benedict's favorite disciple. On returning to Fulda, he was first a teacher, then head of the school there, which became famous all over Europe.

He continued the tradition of sacred learning begun by St. Boniface and Alcuin. He wrote homilies, scientific treatises, poetry, hymns, and commentaries on most of the books of the Bible. Like St. Bede, he was the marvel of his time for his learning and was unequaled in his time for his scriptural and patristic learning.

In 822, Blessed Rabanus Maurus was elected abbot of Fulda, and the monastery flourished under his guidance. He increased the library, built new buildings, and fostered learning of every kind. In 842, he retired, planning to live a life of prayer in solitude for the rest of his life.

In 847, he was chosen to be archbishop of Mainz, at the age of sixty-three, and the last years of his life were spent directing the affairs of his diocese, holding provincial synods, and directing a multitude of charitable works. During a famine, he fed three hundred poor people at his own house. He became bedridden shortly before his death and from the moment of his death was regarded as a saint.

He was buried at the monastery of St. Alban's in Mainz, but later his relics were transferred to Halle.

Thought for the Day: Learning, joined to holiness of life, has always been a powerful force for good. Knowledge is a gift of God, and the cultivation of the mind an important Christian duty. Those who teach are especially the ones who should be endowed with proper knowledge. Knowledge and understanding are gifts of the Holy Spirit and important tools of holiness.

From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets, and stones all those God sends to her! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me."—Matthew 23:37

Taken from "The One Year Book of Saints" by Rev. Clifford Stevens published by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, IN 46750.