Saturday, February 4, 2017

Alcuin of York's Pupil, Rabanus Maurus

Rabanus Maurus died on February 4, 856; he was a German Benedictine and pupil of Alcuin of York. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Abbot of Fulda, Archbishop of Mainz, celebrated theological and pedagogical writer of the ninth century, born at Mainz about 776 (784?); died at Winkel (Vinicellum) near Mainz on 4 February, 856. He took vows at an early age in the Benedictine monastery of Fulda, and was ordained deacon in 801. A year later he went to Tours to study theology and the liberal arts, under Alcuin. He endeared himself to his aged master, and received from him the surname of Maurus in memory of the favourite disciple of St. Benedict. After a year of study he was recalled by his abbot, became teacher and, later, head-master of the monastic school of Fulda. His fame as teacher spread over Europe, and Fulda became the most celebrated seat of learning in the Frankish Empire.

The author of this entry concludes that "Rabanus was probably the most learned man of his age. In Scriptural and patristic knowledge he had no equal, and was thoroughly conversant with canon law and liturgy. His literary activity extended over the entire field of sacred and profane learning as then understood."

Two great hymns are attributed to him: the Veni, Creator Spiritus (to be distinguished from the Sequence for Pentecost, Veni, Sancte Spiritus) and Christe, sanctorum decus Angelorum ("Christ, the Fair Glory of the Holy Angels").

The Oratorian Father Edward Caswall translated the former:

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
And make our hearts Your place of rest;
Come with Your grace and heav'nly aid
And fill the hearts which You have made.

To You, the Counselor, we cry,
To You, the gift of God Most High;
The fount of life, the fire of love,
The soul's anointing from above.

In You, with graces sevenfold,
We God's almighty hand behold
While You with tongues of fire proclaim
To all the world His holy name.

Your light to ev'ry thought impart,
And shed Your love in ev'ry heart;
The weakness of our mortal state
With deathless might invigorate.

Drive far away our wily foe,
And Your abiding peace bestow;
With You as our protecting guide,
No evil can with us abide.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And You, from both, as Three in One
That we Your name may ever bless
And in our lives the truth confess.

Praise we the Father and Son,
And Holy Spirit, with them One,
And may the Son on us bestow
The gifts that from the Spirit flow!

The illustration depicts Alcuin of York in the center, with Rabanus on the left presenting his work to Otgar, the Archbishop of Mainz.

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