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Gerhoh of Reichersberg

Gerhoh of Reichersberg: provost and Austin canon; b. 1093; d. 1169

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Gerhoh of Reichersberg, provost of that place and Austin canon, one of the most distinguished theologians of Germany in the twelfth century, b. at Polling, Bavaria, 1093; d. at Reichersberg, June 27, 1169. He studied at Freising, Mosburg, and Hildesheim. In 1119, Bishop Hermann of Augsburg called him as “scholastic us” to the cathedral school of that city; shortly afterwards, though still a deacon, he made him a canon of the cathedral. Gradually Gerhoh adopted a stricter ecclesiastical attitude, and eventually withdrew (1121) from the simoniacal Bishop Hermann, and took refuge in the monastery of Raitenbuch in the Diocese of Freising. After the Concordat of Worms (1122) Bishop Hermann was reconciled with the legitimate pope, Callistus II, whereupon Gerhoh accompanied the bishop to the Lateran Council of 1123. On his return from Rome Gerhoh resigned his canonicate, and with his father and two half-brothers joined the Austin canons at Raitenbuch (1124).

Bishop Kuno of Ratisbon ordained him a priest in 1126, and gave him the parish of Cham, which he later resigned under threats from Hohenstaufen followers whom he had offended at the Synod of Wurzburg in 1127. He returned to Ratisbon, and in 1132 Archbishop Conrad I of Salzburg appointed him provost of Reichersberg, to the spiritual and material advantage of that monastery. Archbishop Conrad sent him several times on special missions to Rome; in 1143 he also accompanied, together with Arnold of Brescia, Cardinal Guido of Santa Maria in Porticu on his embassy to Bohemia and Moravia. Eugene III (1145-53) held Gerhoh in high esteem; his relations with the successors of that pope were less pleasant. On the occasion of the disputed papal election in 1159 (Alexander III and Victor IV) Gerhoh sided with Alexander III, but only after long hesitation; for this action the imperial party looked on him with hatred. For refusing to support the antipope, Archbishop Conrad was condemned to banishment in 1166, and the monastery of Reichersberg repeatedly attacked; Gerhoh himself was forced to take refuge in flight, and died soon after his return to Reichersberg. Gerhoh was a reformer in the spirit of the Gregorian ideas. He aimed particularly, perhaps with excessive zeal, at the reform of the clergy; it seemed to him that this object could not be attained unless the community life were generally adopted.

His reformatory views, and his ecclesiastical policy are set forth in the following works: “De aedificio Dei seu de studio et cura disciplinae ecclesiastieae” (P.L., CXCIVI 1187-13361 Sackur, 136-202) “Tractatus adversus Simoniacos” (P.L., 1335-1372; Sackur, 239-272; see also Jaksch in Mittheilungen des Instituts fur osterreichische Geschichtsforschung, VI [1885], 254-69); “Liber epistolaris ad Innocentium II. Pont. Max. de eo quid distet inter clericos saeculares et regulares” (P.L., CXCIV, 1375-1420; Sackur, 202-239); “De novitatibus hujus sculi ad Adrianum IV Papam” (selections in Grisar and in Sackur, 288-304); furthermore, the important work written in 1162, “De investigatione Anti-Christi” libri III [selections in P.L., CXCIV, 1443-1480; see also Stiilz in “Archiv fur osterreichische Geschichte, XXII (1858), 127-188; selections in Scheibelberger, see below; book I complete in Sackur, 304-395]; “De schismate ad cardinales” [Mtihlbacher in Archiv fur osterreichische Geschichte, XLVII (1871), 355-382; Sackur, 399-411]; his last work is the “De quarta vigilia noctis” [Oesterreichische Vierteljahresschriftfar kath. Theologie X (1871), 565-606; Sackur, 503-525]. His principal work he left unfinished, “Commentarius in Psalmos” (P.L., CXCIII, 619-1814; CXCIV, 1-1066); it offers much interesting material for contemporaneous history. This is particularly true of his commentary on Ps. lxiv, that appeared separately as “Liber de corrupto Ecclesiae statu ad Eugenium III Papam” (P.L., CXCIV, 9-120; Sackur, 439-92). We are indebted to him also for a number of polemical works and letters against the Christological errors of Abelard, Gilbert de la Porree, and Bishop Eberhard of Bamberg; others deal with the errors of Folmar, Provost of Triefenstein, on the subject of the Holy Eucharist.

The genuineness of the “Vitae beatorum abbatum Formbacensium Berengeri et Wirntonis, O.S.B.”, generally ascribed to Gerhoh, is denied by Wattenbach. The Migne edition of Gerhoh’s works is faulty and incomplete. Those of his writings which are of importance for the study of the history of that period were edited by Sackur in the “Monumenta Germanise Historica: Libelli de lite imperatorum et pontificum”, III (Hanover, 1897), 131-525; also by Scheibelberger”Gerhohi Opera adhuc inedita” (Linz, 1875).


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