Saint Siard

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Saint Siard of Friesland (who died in 1230) was a holy abbot of the Norbertine Abbey in Mariëngaard by Hallum in Friesland.  He was born to a noble Frisian family in the shadow of the abbey of Mariëngaard and there received the white habit at the hands of St. Frederick. During his first twenty years in the abbey Siard practised great penances and mortification and proved a model of edification for the brethren, to such an extent that Abbot John appointed Siard his successor on his death-bed. As Abbot his life was particularly marked by its austerity and benevolence. He was particularly fond of handing out bread to the poor personally and joined in with the manual labour of his brethren, particularly in the fields harvesting wheat. He was extremely open to those who sought his advice and ensured that the abbey became known as a place of refuge throughout the region. As a model of perfection, St. Siard had also given Blessed Dodo of Haskerland his Norbertine education.  He also showed a true conciliatory spirit, settling disputes quickly and with the utmost gentleness and understanding. Furthermore the saint extended the lands of the abbey and guided the construction of various additions to the buildings. Once on a journey, the holy abbot came across a noisy celebration of music and dance. He stopped and turned to his brothers saying, “Just imagine what songs of joy the angel choirs must sing when they celebrate the conversion of a single sinner.” Known also for his miracles of healing, the monastery began to attract many in search of physical healing after Siard cured a man of blindness. Naturally the austere life that Siard had implemented was not popular with all of the canons and in 1290 one of their number attempted to murder the abbot. His loud cries brought the aid of the confreres and he escaped with only minor injuries. He died the same year, on November 13th.

The relics of St. Siard were first kept in the sacristy of Mariëngaard abbey and latterly moved to the choir. When the abbey was destroyed by Calvinists, his relics were brought to Hildesheim by Siardus of Hensema, a Friesian nobleman. One reliquary (containing the skull and almost half the bones) came to the abbey of St. Feuillien in the town of Roeulx in Hannonia and after certain Gallacian reforms then rested in Strépy. On 24 February 1938 these relics were then solemnly transferred to the abbey of Leffe. A second reliquary was brought into the possession of Tongerlo Abbey in 1617. The transfer was preceded by a long journey, during which the relics were received and venerated at various Norbertine abbeys, finally resting at Tongerlo on 6 July 1617. In 1619 Prelate Stalpaerts built a beautiful shrine where the relics were houses. When Tongerlo also suffered under certain Gallacian reforms, the relics were safely hidden and returned to the abbey in 1860.

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Father in heaven, you filled your abbot Siard with humility and lowliness of heart. Through his intercession grant that we, like him, may imitate the humility and meekness of the heart of your Son. We ask this through Christ our Lord, AMEN.

Before the Reform of the calender the Memoria of St. Siard was kept on November 17th, November 14th being the Feast of All the Relics in the Churches of the Canons Regular of Prémontré.

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