In the month of December

8th December: Anastasia, Duchess of Pomerania founded the convent of canonesses at Treptow in 1224 after the death of her husband. Treptow was a well known place of pilgrimage. The duchess is often described as one of the blessed and is found depicted on the ‘tree of saints’ at Zwierzyniec.

9th December: Adam Scotus. born in 1130 and ordained a priest at the age of 24 at the abbey of Dryburgh, Scotland. He was known for his learning and piety from his earliest years and wrote many tracts about the history and spirituality of our order. Adam’s writings played an important part in the development of Premonstratensian spirituality. Accompanying the abbot general of the order on a visit to the Charterhouse he decided to become a Carthusian and there he died  in 1213 or 1214.

9th December: Michaela Andrusikiewicz was born on 11 January 1865 and entered the convent of canonesses at Zwierzyniec in Poland. She fulfilled many offices in the convent, both as teacher and librarian and was influential in overseeing the opening of two new houses for the canonesses. She was elected prioress in 1924 and died at the age of 61 on this day in 1926.

10th December: Bruno von Braunsberg. Abbot of Rommersdorf from 1214-1236. He did much to extend the buildings of the abbey, including its library and was asked by Pope Honorius III to preach the crusades in the Rhineland. He was a confident of the Landgrave of Hesse, the husband of St. Elizabeth of Hungary and the couple vowed to him that if their child should be a boy he would enter Rommersdorf and if it were a girl she would enter the convent at Altenberg. A girl was born, the Blessed Gertrude who is so celebrated in our Order.

11th December: Johannes Laurens. Priest and canon of Averbode. Ordained in 1574. He studied in Louvain and was then made sup-prior and novice-master an office in which he excelled and was a source of much edification to the juniors. He was later parish priest of Hechtel. He was tortured by the Protestants and eventually died on this day in 1613. 

11th December: Ludolph Van Craeywinckel. Born in 1609, a priest and canon of Tongerlo. He studied in Louvain and was for 26 year vice-dean in Malines and then pastor in Oelegem. He had a great love for the Order and wrote extensively of its history and saints. His collection of sermons was published and in 1665 he wrote a large collection of lives of the saints and beati of the Order. Two years before his death in 1679 he also wrote a vita of the martyrs of Gorcum.

11th December: Severin Ott. Born in 1627, a priest and canon of Roggenburg. His life was marked by his penance and austerity, but especially by his deep devotion to the Mother of God. He promoted with great zeal the shrine of Our Lady of Schießen and placed there a copy of the icon of Our Lady attributed to St. Luke. As a son of Mary he died in the Octave of her Immaculate Conception on this day in 1708.

16th December: Theodoric. Canon of Floreffe and first abbot of Rommersdorf. Died on this day in 1145.

17th December: Gottfried von Bonneberg. Canon of Steinfeld and elected its abbot in 1381. Franco-British troops who supported the anti-Pope Clement VII raided and looted the entire region and took Gottfried off as a hostage, hoping to extort a large sum for his release. Resisting their attempts Gottfried was stabbed and died of his wounds, going to his martyr’s reward on this day in 1388.

18th December: Philipp of Ratzeburg. Successor of St. Isfrid as bishop of Ratzeburg. He continued the wise policies of Isfrid and was a great pastor of souls.

19th December: Johannes Gogniat. Abbot of Bellelay in Switzerland from 1530 to 1553 during the difficult years of the reformation. He safeguarded the abbey against the Calvinists and Bellelay became a centre of Catholic resistence. He died on this day in 1553.

19th December: Konrad Liechtenau. A scion of the noble family whose name he bore was at first a secular canon. He renounced all his worldly honours to enter our abbey of Ursberg where he was elected abbot in 1226. He not only extended the abbey, but was a keen promoter of academic study amongst the canons and was himself a noted author. He died on this day in 1240.

21 December: Sibrand. In 1230 he succeeded St. Siard as abbot of Mariengaarde and excelled in learning and piety. He wrote biographies of St. Fredrick, St. Siard and Blessed Dodo. He was keen to form his brethren and was a great student of the Church Fathers. He went to his reward, lauded by all, on this day in 1238.

23 December: Hermann the Jew. Hermann was a canon of Cappenberg and a convert from Judaism. He said of himself “My name is Judas, an Israelite of the tribe of Levi. David was my father and Tzipporah my mother. I was born in Cologne.” Judas was converted by the sermons of the bishop of Munster. His mother was aghast at his conversion and compelled him to marry. Hermann’s conscience would give him no peace and he often preached Christ in the synagogues, time after time being driven away by his former co-religionists. His marriage was dissolved through the Pauline privilege and he entered Cappenberg and was ordained in 1134. He was known for his great works and was eventually elected abbot of Scheda. He died at the age of 90 and was venerated as a Blessed. He remains were solemnly transferred to Scheda on 24th June 1628.

25th December: The Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour. Also the birth of our Order in 1121.

25th December: Matthäus Paul. born in 1618 he entered the abbey of Louka (Czech Republic) in 1637. A doctor of the University of Salzburg and later prior. The task of reforming the lives of the brethren fell to him and he fulfilled this task with great merit. He was most especially devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and died whilst in adoration, crying out “Domine, Dilexi decore domus tuae”.

26th December: Johannes du Hainaut, a doctor of Law, was abbot of Joyenval from 1441 to 1493 and circator of the abbeys of that region. He led his community through the difficult times of that era with fortitude and courage.

27th December: Roger. A gentleman at the court of the Emperor Lothar. He was inspired to become a pauper for Christ through the preaching of St. Norbert and returned to live the community life at Prémontré. In 1135 the local bishop decided to reform the Benedictine monastery at Verdun and replace them with Premonstratensians. Roger led the group that was sent by Blessed Hugh. At Roger’s death in 1138 Verdun already numbered 300 religious.

28th December: Johannes Riedgasser. From 1591 until 1600 abbot of Obermarchtel. He led the abbey with exemplary conduct and during his last illness was consoled by a vision of St. Ulrich.

29th December: Petrus von Lutra. Canon of Kaiserlautern. A canonist, philosopher and ascetic. He wrote many work on the Gospels, various legal situations of the Church, the saints and the Blessed Sacrament.

30th December: Richard. An Englishman, priest and canon of Wedinghausen.

31st December: Garembert. Born in 1080 in Wulpen. At first a canon of Veurne he felt called to lead the life of a hermit whilst he was learning French at Cambrai. The great friend of St. Norbert, Bishop Burchard, gave him a solitary place at Bony where he built a monastery in honour of the Blessed Virgin  and SS. Nicholas and Cassian in 1119. Eleven years later a convert of nuns also grew up there. He decided to affiliate his monastery with the new Order of Premonstratensians and so Abbot Gunther sent Odobert and a group of canons to help with the affiliation. Garembert then spent much of his time devoting himself to the welfare of the convent. On December 31 1141 he suddenly exclaimed in a loud voice “Guide me, O Lord, in the way of thy countenance.” Then he died.

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