Servant of God Berthold of Ratisbon
Another Saint of the Day for December 13
Servant of God Berthold of Ratisbon’s Story
Born in Germany about the year 1220, Berthold of Ratisbon entered the recently founded Franciscan Order at a very early age. He was pious and led a most austere life, and was mentored by the famous teacher, David of Augsburg. David recognized and encouraged Berthold’s gift of preaching.
Soon Berthold was the greatest and most powerful preacher in all of the German Empire. The word of God he spoke touched the most hardened of hearts. Thousands flocked to hear his sermons. Sometimes the number passed 100,000, and he would have to climb to a pulpit built in a tree to address the throng. Today a vast field in Bohemia is still called Berthold’s Field because he addressed such crowds there.
Many were led to begin lives of strict penance for their sins. And a convent and chapel were built in Ratisbon for the penitents under the patronage of Saint Mary Magdalen. It is still there, now occupied by the Poor Clare nuns.
Berthold had the gift of prophecy and foretold certain events and disasters. After his death in Ratisbon in 1272, his tomb became a place of pilgrimage. His spirit still lives on in his sermons, many of which still speak to our modern age.
Some preachers manage to touch our hearts. They say something that resonates with our experience, something that holds a ring of truth. Berthold was such a preacher. But the power to touch other hearts is not limited to those who preach formal sermons. It springs from the ability to listen carefully enough to others to pick up on their deepest hungers and speak to them. Such “preaching,” therefore, lies within our power as well.