Berthold of Ratisbon

Berthold of Ratisbon also called Berthold the Franciscan, a Franciscan monk, and one of the most powerful preachers that ever spoke in the German tongue. He is supposed to have been born about 1225 in Regensburg, where he died in 1272. His theological education he received chiefly in the Franciscan convent of Ratisbon, where a pious and learned mystic, Brother David of Augsburg, was professor of theology and master of the novitiate. It is doubtful whether, as has been asserted by some (Dr. Schmidt, in Studien und Kritiken, see below), he continued his studies in Paris and Italy. His first public appearance, as far as we know, was in the year 1246, when the papal legate, Philippus of Ferrara, charged him, Brother David, and two canons of Ratisbon, with the visitation of the convent of Niedermunster. His labors as a travelling preacher began in 1250 (according to others in 1251 or 1252) in Lower Bavaria, and extended to Alsatia, Alemannia (Baden), Switzerland, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Thuringia, Franconia, and perhaps Hungary. When he was unacquainted with the language of the country he used an interpreter. Rudelbach, in the Zeits fur Luth. Theol. 1859, calls Berthold "the Chrysostom of the Middle Ages." No church was large enough to hold the multitudes that flocked to hear him; from a pulpit in the fields he often addressed 60,000 hearers. He fearlessly rebuked sinners of all ranks. He was especially severe against the preachers of indulgences, whom he styled "penny preachers" and "the devil's agents." A volume of his sermons, edited by Kling, was published at Berlin in 1824 (B. des Franciscaner's Predigten). The first complete edition of his sermons was published by F. Pfeiffer (Vienna, 2 vols. 1862

sq.). A translation of his sermons from medieval into modern German was published by Gobel, with an introduction by Alban Stolz (2 vols. 8vo). Recently the German jurists have found that the sermons of Berthold are of the greatest importance for the history of the German law. The passages in these sermons which agree with the popular law-book called the Schwabenspiegel are so numerous that some (as Laband, Beitrage zur Geschichte des Schwabenspiegels, Berlin, 1861) have regarded Berthold as its author. The best treatise on Berthold is by Schmidt, B. der Franciscaner in Studien und Kritiken (1864, p. 7-82). See also Kling, in Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 2, 101, and Wagenmann, in Herzog, Supplem. 1, 183; Jahrbucher fur deutsche Theologie, 1863, p. 386 sq.; Piper, Evang. Kalend for 1853; Pfeiffer, Deutsche Mystiker (vol. 1, p. 26 sq.); Kehrein, Gesch. der kath. Kanzelberedsankeit (2 vols. Ratisbon, 1843): Neander, Ch. Hist. 4, 318, 351.

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