About Exemplary Lives: Selected Sermons on the Saints, from Rheinau
Located on an island in the Rhine River in Switzerland, near Schaffhausen, Rheinau was the site of a Benedictine abbey with the original patrons St. Mary and St. Peter, and, at a later date, St. Catherine. Rheinau Abbey was founded around 780 AD, with monastic activities of varying degrees of intensity continuing there until 1862. The abbey’s scriptorium flourished in the twelfth century.
In a fifteenth-century Swiss-German manuscript there is a collection of sermons associated with Rheinau Abbey entitled Die Rheinauer Predigtsammlung. As it is stated in §50 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, “... we seek from the saints examples in their way of life, fellowship in their communion, and aid by their intercession.” Those who listened to the saints’ sermons from Rheinau were given accounts of these twenty-four saints’ lives of heroic faith. The congregation is reminded of the beauty of the communion of saints. Upon the death of a saint, by natural causes as well as martyrdom, the immediate reward for the saints is the reunion with his/her brethren in the beyond. There is a common structural pattern to be seen in all the saints’ sermons from Rheinau, each saint’s life demonstrates a particular aspect of holiness and a unique manner through which the cause of the Church is furthered and/or defended. These exemplary lives deserved their places in the original Rheinauer Predigtsammlung and warrant their inclusion in this selection of Medieval Swiss-German sermons with translation from Rheinau.
— Dr. James C. Wilkinson