(Apostle of the Obotrites), in the latter half of the twelfth century. The Obotrites were one of the Slav tribes known under the common name of Wends, and dwelt along the Baltic in Mecklenburg. Three bishoprics had been erected in their country as early as the tenth century, Oldenburg (transferred to Lubeck in the twelfth century), Ratzeburg, and Mecklenburg, but they remained vacant during the greater part of the eleventh century. Duke Henry the Lion, of Saxony, having partly subdued the Obotrites, re-established the three bishoprics, and in 1155 selected Berno as Bishop of Mecklenburg. He was a Cistercian monk of the flourishing monastery of Amelungsborn on the Weser, and was consecrated in Rome by Pope Adrian IV . As these sees were not only episcopal residences but also political centres and strongholds of foreign power, the Obotrites identified the Christian with the German name and detested both. No wonder that Berno at first met with small success in his missionary labours. The Obotrite Prince Niklot, the fiercest enemy both of the Germans and of the Christian religion, had not yet submitted to German ascendancy and was the greatest obstacle to the conversion of the people. Berno was even obliged in 1158 to transfer his episcopal see from Mecklenburg to Schwerin, whither German colonists had already penetrated. From Schwerin as a centre, the zealous and intrepid missionary bishop began his work of preaching, destroying idols, baptizing, and building churches, and penetrated as far as Demmin in hither Pomerania. Here, in 1163, he converted the powerful Prince Pribislav, son of Niklot, who, however, fell away again the very next year, made war upon the Germans, and attacked, and nearly killed the bishop at the altar. In the end he had to acknowledge the German supremacy and remained henceforth loyal to the Christian religion.
In 1168 Berno undertook a missionary expedition to the island of Rugen and destroyed the temple and the great idol of the pagan inhabitants, whom by patience and kindness he won over to the Christian religion . In the year 1171 he consecrated the Cathedral of Schwerin, where in 1177, he held the first synod. The greatest service which this apostolic man rendered to those countries was the introduction of his religious brethren, the Cistercian monks. The monastery of Doberan, which through the bishop's efforts was founded by Pribislav in 1171, soon became a centre from which radiated Christian civilization far and wide. The monks had been brought from his own monastery of Amelungsborn. Two years later Dargun was founded and entrusted to Danish monks. This monastery, however, did not flourish until the Danish monks were replaced by monks from Doberan. During the schism caused by Frederick Barbarossa, Berno, like all the Cistercians, never wavered in his loyalty to the legitimate pope, though his metropolitan, the Archbishop of Bremen, had joined the cause of the antipope. When at last Frederick made his peace with Alexander III, Berno was enabled to make a journey to Rome (1178) to pay his homage to the pope, who confirmed the erection of his diocese. During the Lent of the following year he took part in the General Council of the Lateran. During his absence in Rome, the Wends had risen against the Germans, the great monastery of Doberan had been destroyed and its seventy-eight inmates massacred. When peace was re-established Doberan was rebuilt and again peopled by monks from Amelungsborn in 1186. Berno died in 1191 (1190?) having laboured as bishop of Mecklenburg for over thirty years.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online