BLESSED MARGARET EBNER, O.P. (1306-1351)


TODAY IS THE FEAST OF BLESSED MARGARET EBNER, a Nun of the Order of Preachers. Bl. Margaret was born in 1291 at Donauworth in Bavaria and made profession in the Dominican monastery at Maria Medingen in 1306. By her own account, her true conversion to God began in 1311, when she was twenty years old. Shortly thereafter she fell seriously ill and remained bedridden for nearly thirteen years. This life of continual suffering and prayer brought her to the heights of contemplative union with God. She became one of the most prominent of the Rhineland mystics, known and admired by her Dominican brothers, John Tauler and Henry Suso.

Margaret's spirituality as almost entirely Christocentric and was profoundly influenced by the cycle of the liturgical year. One of her favorite invocations (which shows also her sense of Dominican identity) was: "Jesus, pure Truth, teach me the truth." Among her writings are her Spiritual Journal or autobiography, and also a treatise on the Lord's Prayer. She died on June 20, 1351, and she was beatified by Pope John Paul II on February 24, 1979.

Recent years have seen a real surge of interest and publications on Bl. Margaret Ebner and the Rhineland mystics, the most notable being Margaret Ebner: Major Works, edited by Leonard Hindsley (Paulist Press, 1993). Several interesting articles on Margaret and her fellow Rhineland mystics can be found on-line, including "Life in Abundance: Meister Eckhart and the German Dominican Mystics of the the Century: The Importance of Dominican Sisters in German Mysticism" by Gundolf M. Gieraths, O.P. (Spirituality Today, 1986) and "Dominican Spirituality in the Rhineland."