Memorial of St. Siard of Mariëngaarde, O. Praem.
(b. unknown, † November 13, 1230)
- Crosier = Abbot
- Flagellum and cross = Penance
- Palm = Spirit of peace and reconciliation
- Basket of bread = Food for the poor
Siard was born into a noble family of Friesland in the Netherlands. He studied in the abbey school of Mariëngaarde where St. Frederic was abbot. In 1175 he entered the novitiate. After 20 years of religious life he was elected the fifth abbot of Mariëngaarde.
Nothing in his daily life distinguished him from his confreres. He wore the same habit, ate at the same table, and slept in the same dormitory. On account of his exceptional humility, he resolutely refused everything that was not strictly necessary. He was a good administrator who governed his monastery well—both in spiritual and material matters. Siard worked side by side with his confreres during the periods of manual labor, especially in the fields.
The apostolic spirit of the order thrived at Mariëngaarde under his leadership. Whenever Siard went on a journey, he took along a large basket full of bread and other foods that he could distribute among the poor. He had the gift of pacifying hatred and reconciling enemies. He urged three things upon the confreres who had to leave the monastery: a joyous departure, a peaceful sojourn, and a happy return.
Siard had a special devotion to Jesus’ friends Martha and Mary. He looked to Martha as an example for his care of the confreres, and to Mary as a reminder of the necessity of listening to Christ in prayer and meditation. Siard died in 1230, having been abbot for 36 years.
After the destruction of Mariëngaarde by the Calvinists in 1578, a Friesland nobleman rescued his earthly remains. In 1608 his relics were divided and placed in two separate reliquaries: one was transferred to the Norbertine abbey of Leffe, the other to Tongerlo, both in Belgium. The relic of Siard’s head found a home in the Generalate House in Rome until 2001, when it was transferred to the abbey of Windberg. Pope Benedict XIII confirmed the cult of St. Siard on January 22, 1728.
Date(s) - November 14, 2017