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The Order of Saint Benedict

"Preface" to A Benedictine Martyrology
by Dom Alexius Hoffmann, OSB

 

Preface

The German original, of which the present volume is a translation and revision, with some omissions and additions, was the work of Father Peter Lechner, O.S.B., who compiled it in order to supply his monastery of Scheyern, in Bavaria, with a condensed martyrology, or menology, for reading at table every day of the year. No attempt was made to write a detailed life of the persons commemorated: only the most significant facts and such as were conducive to edification were selected. In preparing the present volume, the revisor has made no departure from the spirit of the original. Some entries have been slightly abbreviated and several added, especially the names of several victims of the French Revolution, whose process of beatification has been introduced in Rome. For the accommodation of students of Benedictine history, a number of additional references and notes has been added at the foot of each page.

The book is not a martyrology in the strict sense of that term either in content or in style. The Roman Martyrology contains the names of only such persons -- Saints or Blessed -- to whom public veneration may be shown. Fr. Lechner's work, however, admits a number of others who never have received public veneration, but whose virtues were preserved in pious memory in certain branches or houses of the Order. It is not claimed that all the persons mentioned were Benedictines by monastic profession, or vows. The author thus justifies his introduction of Saints who followed the rule of St. Columban: "The disciples of St. Columban receive mention in this Martyrology for two reasons:

first, because their rule and manner of life resembled that of St. Benedict,
and, secondly, because all the Columban monasteries gradually passed over to the observance of the rule of St. Benedict. The disciples of St. Columban were at all times regarded as Benedictines. Many would be surprised if St. Gall, for instance, were not considered a Benedictine, although he lived according to the rule of St. Columban."

With much better reason place was allotted to the Saints and Blessed of the several reforms and branches of the Order-such as the Order of Citeaux, of Camaldoli, of Vallombrosa, of Monte Oliveto, of Monte Vergine, of Fiore, of Pulsano, of La Trappe, of the Celestines and the Humiliati, and the Congregations of Cava and Cluny -- all of which adopted the Rule of St. Benedict as their constitution. The same may be said of the military Orders -- Knights Templars, Knights of Alcantara, Montesia and St. Stephen. In addition, the names of a few eminent benefactors are commemorated, as well as memorable incidents in the history of the Order.

As this work is intended chiefly for edification and does not claim to be a critical study -- Mabillon, Menard and the Bollandists must be consulted for critical dissertations -- no special effort has been made to correct or change anything beyond a few inaccuracies which may possibly be charged to typographers.

A word as to the genesis of this Martyrology. In preparing his book, Fr. Peter Lechner took as a basis a "Kirchen-Kalender des Benediktiner Ordens" published anonymously by the abbey of Donauwoerth in Bavaria in 1786. The late Fr. Pirmin Lindner, O.S.B., a well known Benedictine literary historian, mentions P. Bernard Stocker, 0. S. B. (+ 1806), a monk of Donauwoerth, as the author. (Schriftsteller des Ben. Ordens in Bayern. vol. 2. 1880). Fr. Lechner admitted that the selection was made with care and discrimination, but considered the sketches too brief and matter-of-fact. For the purpose of supplying this deficiency, he prepared his Martyrology, which was published by B. Schmid at Augsburg in 1855 with the sanction of the ordinariate of the archdiocese of München-Freising. It is an octavo volume of 536 pages; each day of the year has on an average four entries.

Father Peter Lechner D.D. was born at Pfaffenhofen in Bavaria on March 7, 1805, studied at Landshut and Munich and was ordained December 9, 1827 at Augsburg. On November 1, 1838, he entered the monastery of Scheyern, which had recently been restored; made profession on November 1, 1839; was prior from 1842-1847, and was associated with the early Benedictines at St. Vincent's near Latrobe in Pennsylvania from 1847-1851, when he was recalled to his abbey in Europe. He died July 26, 1873. Fr. Pirmin Lindner mentions forty-one works of this pious and industrious religious.

In compliance with the decrees of Pope Urban VIII, the translator and editor of the present volume declares that where the title of Saint, Blessed or Venerable is given to persons not officially recognized as such by the Holy See, it is done simply to indicate in what esteem the persons honored with such titles were held in the past and what titles are given them in hagiographical sources. In no instance is there a desire or intention to anticipate the decision of the Holy See, to whose correction this volume is most humbly submitted.

-The Revisor.

Collegeville, Minnesota
Sept. 24, 1922.

A Benedictine Martyrology: Being a revison of Rev. Peter Lechner's Ausführliches Martyrologium des Benedictiner-Ordens und seiner Verzweigungen by Alexius Hoffmann, O.S.B. Collegeville, Minnesota: Saint John's Abbey, 1922.
Permissu superiorum- Nihil obstat: Alcuinus Deutsch, O.S.B., Censor dep.; Imprimatur: +Josephus F. Busch, Ep. S. Clodoaldi, Jan. 19, 1920. © Copyright 1922 by Alexius Hoffmann, O.S.B. All right reserved.

 

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