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Ancient See of Ratzeburg

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(RACEBURGUM, RACEBURGENSIS.)

In Germany, suffragan to Hamburg. The diocese embraced the Duchy of Lauenburg (Holstein) in the Prussian Province of Schleswig-Holstein, the Principality of Ratzeburg in the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and the western part of the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, including Wismar but not Schwerin. The whole of it is now included in the Diocese of Osnabrück.

Ratzeburg was one of the dioceses formed about 1050 by Adalbert I, Archbishop of Hamburg, who appointed St. Aristo, who had just returned from Jerusalem, to the new see. Aristo seems to have been but a wandering missionary bishop. In 1066 the Wends rose against their German masters, and on 15 July, 1066, St. Ansuerus, Abbot of St. George's, Ratzeburg (not the later monastery bearing that name), and several of his monks are said to have been stoned to death. It was not however till 1154 that Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony, and Hartwich, Archbishop of Hamburg, refounded the See of Ratzeburg, and Evermodus became its first bishop. A disciple of St. Norbert and provost of the Monastery of Our Lady at Magdeburg, Evermodus was, like many of his successors, a Premonstratensian monk and a model of all virtues. In 1157 a chapter was attached to Ratzeburg cathedral by Pope Adrian IV. In 1236 Bishop Peter was invested by Emperor Frederick II with temporal jurisdiction over the land of Butin and a number of villages outside it (the Principality of Ratzeburg). The succeeding bishops retained this jurisdiction in spite of the frequent attempts which the dukes of Sachsen-Lauenburg made to deprive them of it. In 1504, during the episcopate of Bishop John V von Parkentin, the Premonstratensian canons of Ratzeburg cathedral were, with Papal consent, made secular canons. Bishop George von Blumenthal (1524-50) was the last Catholic bishop. In 1552 the cathedral was plundered by Count Volrad von Mansfeld. In 1566 the dean and chapter went over to Lutheranism.

The cathedral of Ratzeburg dates from the beginning of the twelfth century. It was restored, and additions were made to it in the fifteenth century. The diocese also contained a number of other beautiful churches at Molln, Wismar, Buchen, and elsewhere. Besides the cathedral chapter of Ratzeburg with its provost or dean and twelve canons, there were in the diocese the Benedictine Abbeys of St. George, Ratzeburg (refounded in 1093), and of Wismar, where Benedictines expelled from Lubeck founded a monastery in 1239; also convents of the same order at Eldena founded in 1229, by Bishop Gottschalk of Ratzeburg, and burnt in 1290, at Rehna founded in 1237 by Bishop Ludolfus, and at Zarrentin founded in 1243. There were also Franciscans (1251) and Dominicans (1293) at Wismar.

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