Ratramnus of Corbey
Ratramnus Of Corbey, an Aquitanian monk of the first half of the 9th century, is noted in ecclesiastical history as the controversialist of Paschasius Radbertus on the subject of the holy eucharist (q.v.). Ratramnus's personal history is scarcely known, except that he was the personal friend of Godeschalcus, and was regarded in his day as one of the ablest defenders of Augustinianism. He is sometimes called Bertram the Monk, or Bertram the Priest, but it is thought that this is a corruption of B. Ratramnus, "Beatus" being sometimes prefixed to the names of venerated writers, even when there had been no act of beatification. His literary activity falls between 830 and 868. One of the works in defence of Augustinianism which proves its author to have been more than ordinarily versed in patristic literature is by Ratramnus, and is entitled De Predestinatione Dei. It was written at the request of king Charles the Bald in 850. He lays down the following Augustinian dogmatics: "The elect are destined to mercy and salvation; the godless to eternal punishment; the latter are given over to sin only in so far as, on account of their foreseen hard-heartedness and wickedness, the divine help towards goodness is denied them." More important is his controversy with Paschasius on the eucharist, which led to the composition of his work Liber de Corpore et Sanguine Domini, also written at the express wish of the king in 844, and being a defence of pure symbolical sacramental doctrine. To the question of Charles the Bald, "Quod in ecclesia ore fidelium sumitur, corpus et sanguis Christi utrum in mysterio fiat an in veritate?" he answered with the distinction of what occurred really, perceivably, "in veritate," and what "in mysterio" comes to pass. A change, he held, occurred in the eucharist, but not a real, perceivable one; it is the mere act of faith which makes bread and wine the spiritual food and drink of the body and blood of Christ. The book was lost sight of after a time, and it was even ascribed, when met with, to Scotus Erigena, anid as such it was burned in 1050 by the Synod of Vercelli in the Berengarian Controversy. During the English Reformation the work was suddenly resurrected from its obscurity, and had much influence. It was published at Cologne in 1532, after having been brought into notice by bishop Fisher, of Rochester, as early as 1526, that prelate referring to it as maintaining the
Catholic doctrine of the eucharist. It largely influenced the minds of archbishop Cranmer and bishop Ridley; and, as it proved of more service to the Protestants than to the Romanists, it was put into the Index in 1559 by the censors of the Tridentine Council. In England an edition was brought out in English by William Hugh, under the name of The Book of Bertram, in 1548. In the Bibliotheca Maxima, containing Ratramnus's writings, this work is omitted, on the ground that it is a forgery of the Reformers, or is, at least, so hopelessly interpolated by supposititious heretics that it is not worth while to attempt its restoration. Yet there are theologians even in the Church of Rome who maintain the position assumed by Ratramnus as defensible. Against Hincrnar of Rheims Ratramnus defended Godeschalcus in the dispute over the trinat deitas; but this apology is lost. Another work is his Liber de Eo, quod Christus ex Virgine natus est, in which it is not questioned that Mary, utero clauso, conceived, but rather the opinion which sprang up at about that time, that the conception had been incerto tramsite. Ratramnus gained most renown among his contemporaries by his work Contra Grcecorum Opposita, with which, by request of Hincmar of Rheims, he opposed the encyclica of Photius in 867, and defended the Oriental Church and her dogmas. In the Migne edition, these works are in the Patrologie, 121, 1-346 and 1153-1156. See Mabillon, Benediktiner Annalen, vol. 2 and 3; Hist. Litteiraire de la France, v, 332-351; Hilgenfeld, Zeitschriftf. hist. Theol. 1858, p. 546 sq.; Baur, Dogmengesch. vol. ii; Gieseler, Eccles. Hist.; Soames, Hist. of the Reformation, 3:118 sq.