Paschasius Radbertus, Saint

▪ French priest and writer
born c. 785, Soissons, Fr.
died c. 860, feast day April 26

      French abbot, theologian, and author whose monograph De corpore et sanguine Christi (“Concerning Christ's Body and Blood”) later became the dominant interpretation of the Eucharist.

      Abandoned as an infant, Paschasius was raised by the monks of St. Peter's, Soissons. Later, he joined the Benedictine abbey of Corbie, near Amiens, under St. Adalhard the Elder and his brother and successor, St. Wala, whose biographies Paschasius was to write. Well read in the Scriptures and patristic works, he was ordained deacon and subsequently became novice master and headmaster at Corbie and at the daughter abbey of New Corbie, Westphalia (now in Höxter, Ger.), which in 822 he had assisted in founding. Under Paschasius' leadership the Corbie schools became famous.

      He was elected, c. 843, fourth abbot of Corbie. During his office there were disturbances in the monastery and his plans for reform were opposed. His De corpore, written in 831 and revised in 844, when he presented it to King Charles II the Bald of the West Frankish kingdom, was seriously challenged by the monk Ratramnus, who c. 850 wrote his famous eucharistic treatise De corpore et sanguine Domini (“Concerning the Lord's Body and Blood”) partially in reply to Paschasius. Paschasius was further criticized by Rabanus Maurus, abbot of Fulda and later archbishop of Mainz.

      Paschasius attended the synods of Paris (847) and Quercy (849). He resigned his abbacy c. 851 and retired to the monastery of Saint-Riquier to write in peace, although his last years were supposedly spent at Corbie. During succeeding centuries his eucharistic views were dominant, particularly during the 11th-century eucharistic controversy associated with the noted theologian Berengar of Tours, who was condemned at the Council of Vercelli in 1050 for sympathizing with Ratramnus' views (then falsely attributed to the Irish philosopher and theologian John Scotus Erigena). Modern theologians, however, recognize faults in Paschasius' doctrine.

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Universalium. 2010.

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