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Egbert (Archbishop of Trier)

Archbishop of Trier, d. 8 or December 9, 993

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Egbert, Archbishop of Trier, d. 8 or December 9, 993. He belonged to the family of the Counts of Holland. His parents, Count Theodoric I and Countess Hildegarde, sent him to be educated in the Abbey of Egmont, located within their dominions. Egbert is first mentioned in history as head of the imperial chancery, then under Archbishop Willigis of Mainz. Documents of 976 and 977 record him as holding this office. In 977 he was made Archbishop of Trier, which see was vacant by the death of Theodoric. Here he remained till 993. He sought particularly to remove from this great diocese all traces of the ravages caused by the Northmen at the end of the ninth century, and to foster the ecclesiastical reforms that had been progressing since the days of Otto I. He completed the restoration, begun by his predecessor, of the Abbey of S. Maria ad Martyres near Trier. Just outside the city he built the abbey-church of St. Eucharius (St. Mathias), to which Otto II contributed generously. On this occasion the body of St. Celsus was discovered. The abbey itself was richly endowed and its monastic school flourished again. The collegiate church of St. Paulinus, near Trier, was similarly endowed, a regular income for its clergy assured, and a fitting solemnity in Divine worship made possible. Abbot Hetzel of Mettlach was deposed for conduct unworthy of his vows and station. The monastery was reformed, and its school became an active center of studious occupations. In Münstermaifeld St. Martin‘s was raised to the dignity of a collegiate church and was correspondingly endowed. From all these regenerated centers, like-wise from the Abbeys of Echternach and St. Maximin, that needed no reformation, a beneficent, spiritual, and intellectual influence radiated in all directions through the diocese.

Egbert was an intimate friend of Otto II, and with Willigis of Mainz exerted a wholesome influence over the emperor, whom he accompanied on his journey to Italy in 983. After Otto’s death he stood at first for Henry the Wrangler (Zanker), but soon went over to Otto III and his mother Theophano. Other evidence of the religious renaissance in the Diocese of Trier is found in the admirable works of ecclesiastical art inspired by Egbert and executed mostly in Trier itself. Among these are several valuable manuscripts: the famous “Codex Egberti”, a book of Gospels written at Reichenau and richly adorned with miniatures, now preserved in the city library of Trier; the “Psalterium Egberti”, written in 981 and now in the chapter library of Cividale (Italy), to which it was donated by St. Elizabeth of Thuringia (also called the “Codex Gertrudianus”, after the Russian Grand Duchess Gertrude, who became its possessor in 1085); the “Codex Epternacensis”, which contains also the Four Gospels and is kept in the Gotha library; likewise several Sacramentaries, transcripts from the “Letter Book” (Registrum) of St. Gregory the Great (596-604), etc. The arts of the goldsmith and of the worker in enamel were particularly well cultivated at Trier. Among valuable specimens still extant are: at Trier a portable altar, at Limburg the golden case or covering with richly adorned head of the so-called St. Peter’s Staff, once a part of the relics of the Trier cathedral, now in the sacristy of the Franciscan church at Lim-burg. Egbert was buried in the chapel of St. Andrew, built by him near the cathedral of Trier.


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