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Ebbo




Ebbo (Ebo), Archbishop of Reims, b. towards the end of the eighth century; d. March 20, 851. Though born of German serfs, he was educated at the court of Charlemagne who gave him his liberty. After his elevation to the priesthood he became librarian of Louis le Debonnaire and was his councilor in the government of Aquitaine. When Louis became emperor he appointed Ebbo archbishop of the vacant See of Reims in 816. Acting on the suggestion of the emperor, he went to Rome in 822, in order to obtain permission from Pope Paschal I to preach the Gospel to the Danes. The pope not only gave his sanction but also appointed Ebbo papal legate for the North. In company with a certain Halitgar, probably the one who was Bishop of Cambrai (817-831), and Willerich, Bishop of Bremen, he set out for Denmark in the spring of 823, and after preaching with some success during the following summer he returned to France in the autumn of the same year. Twice again he returned to Denmark, but each time his stay was of short duration and without any lasting effect on the pagan Danes whose Christianization was brought about a few years later by St. Ansgar. When, in 830, the sons of the emperor rose in rebellion against their father, Ebbo supported the emperor; but three years later he turned against him and on November 13, 833, presided at the shameful scene enacted in the Church of St. Mary at Soissons, where the aged emperor was deposed and compelled to perform public penance for crimes which he had not committed. As a reward for this disgraceful act Ebbo received the rich Abbey of St. Vaast from Lothaire. He continued to support the rebellious Lothaire even after Louis had been solemnly reinstated in March, 834. Being prevented by a severe attack of the gout from following Lothaire to Italy he took refuge in the cell of a hermit near Paris, but was found out and sent as prisoner to the Abbey of Fulda. On February 2, 835, he appeared at the Synod of Thionville, where in the presence of the emperor and forty-three bishops he solemnly declared the monarch innocent of the crimes of which he had accused him at Soissons, and on February 28, 835, made a public recantation from the pulpit of the cathedral of Metz.

Returning to the synod at Thionville, Ebbo was deposed by the emperor and the assembled bishops and brought back as prisoner to the Abbey of Fulda. Somewhat later he was given in custody to Bishop Fréculf of Lisieux and afterwards to Abbot Boso of Fleury. When Lothair became emperor, Ebbo was restored to the See of Reims, in December, 840, but a year later, when Charles the Bald invaded the northeastern part of France, he was again driven from his see. Many had considered Ebbo's reinstatement by Lothair unlawful, and Hincmar, who became Archbishop of Reims in 845, refused to recognize the ordinations administered by him after his reinstatement. The Council of Soissons (853) declared the ordinations invalid. There seems to be little doubt that the pseudo-Isidorian Decretals have as their author one of the ecclesiastics ordained by Ebbo after his reinstatement. Ebbo found shelter at the court of Lothair, who gave him the incomes of several abbeys and used him for various legations. In 844 Ebbo requested Pope Sergius II to restore him to the See of Reims but was admitted only to lay communion. A few other attempts to regain his former see were likewise unsuccessful. When Lothair could make no further use of Ebbo he discarded him, but Ebbo found a supporter in Louis the German, who appointed him Bishop of Hildesheim some time between April, 845, and October, 847. Ebbo is the author of the "Apologeticum Ebbonis", a short apologetic narrative of his deposition and reinstatement. It is published in Mansi, "Amplissima Collectio Conciliorum", XIV, 775-9, and in Migne, P.L., CXVI, 11-16.

MICHAEL OTT








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