Friday, June 20, 2014

Margareta Ebner

Tomb of Margareta, at the Monastery
Church of Mary Medingen
To wrap up a week of religion and mysticism, we turn to Margareta Ebner, a German nun who was born to a wealthy family at Donauwörth in 1291 and entered the Dominican Monastery of Mary Medingen near Dillingen. In 1312 she became terribly ill, and her health was extremely poor for the next decade. For the rest of her life, she spent a great deal of time sporadically bedridden.

As was the case with Christina Ebner (no known relation), the illness led her to a more intense devoutness. She abstained from wine and fruit and even bathing in order to satisfy her desire for penance. She had to abandon the convent and return home when the Great Papal Schism caused war between different factions of Europe. The convent was loyal to the pope in Rome, and when Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV chose to support the pope in Avignon, Margareta left Dillingen and returned to her family. While there, the death of her nurse upset her greatly. She became unfocused, until Henry of Nördlingen in 1332 contacted her and started to guide her.

His correspondence with her has been preserved, the earliest known set of personal letters in the German language. Henry sent her a copy of the works of Mechthild of Magdeburg. He also urged her to start writing down visions and revelations that she experienced. These included dialogues with the Baby Jesus. Her Revelations are in a manuscript in Medingen, at the Monastery that also houses her tomb. She died on 20 June 1351.

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