RATHERIUS, ra"-ther' î-us: Bishop of Verona; b. near Liége shortly after 887; d. at Namur (36 m. s.e. of Brussels) 974. As a child of five he entered the monastery of Laubach in Hennegau, but showed the genius of neither a scholar nor a monk. In 926 he accompanied his abbot, Hilduin, to Italy, where the latter's cousin, King Hugo, attracted by the young monk's learning and moral character, promised him the diocese of Verona. His lack of subservience, however, evidently delayed fulfilment of the promise, for it was not until 931, while Ratherius was apparently fatally ill, that Hugo made the formal appointment. Ratherius recovered only to be in strained relations both with the king and with his see; and when, in 935, Arnulf of Bavaria had attacked Verona with the traitorous connivance of Ratherius, and had been repulsed, the bishop was imprisoned at Pavia. Here he composed his Prloquia, moralizing sermons and admonitions to conversion and repentance. In 936 Ratherius was released, but return to Verona was impracticable, and after some three years in the custody of Azo, bishop of Como, he fled to Provence. Sympathy he found in abundance, but no assistance in regaining his diocese; and he was obliged to act as private tutor to a young Provencal, in this capacity writing a grammar (now lost) entitled Sparadorsum ("Spare-Back"). This, together with a biography of Ursmar, sometime abbot of Laubach, opened to Ratherius the doors of his old monastery; but it soon became clear that he could no longer be a monk, and, with the encouragement of Hugo, he started to return to Verona. Before he could reach his see city, he was captured by Hugo's enemy, Berengar, but a few weeks later was reinstated in his diocese (946). He was unable, however, to control the see, and two years later was expelled by the king. He now wandered from place to place, vainly seeking assistance and recognition, until he bitterly returned to Laubach, where he addressed three fruitless letters of appeal to Pope Agapetus II., the bishops of Italy, France, and Germany, and all the faithful. In 952 he gladly left Laubach for the royal court of Otto I., where his talents were recognized and his faults obscured by his surroundings, He was soon appointed bishop of Liége, but again he proved his complete unfitness for the episcopate, and, before two years had passed, he was removed from his see. In protest he now composed his Conclusio deliberativa, and at Mainz he collected twenty of his letters and other earlier writings in the Phrenesis, a protest against his loss of both Verona and Liége. In 955 he became abbot of the little monastery of Alna, a daughter house of Laubach. Here he wrote his Excerptum ex dialogo confessionali, in which he advocated the eucharistic teachings of Paschasius Radbertus (see RADBERTUS, PASCHASIUS). This attitude, however, provoked opposition, and he accordingly defended himself in his Epistola ad Patricum, in which he upheld the doctrine of transubstantiation, though without materially advancing the development of the dogma.
At Alna Ratherius still longed for a wider sphere of activity. Liége and Laubach remained closed to him, but in 961 Otto restored him to his see of Verona, where he was soon charged by his clergy with having connived at the robbery of the re1ics of St. Bruno, his reply, the Invectiva, being but a lame defense. The opposition continued, though in his De contemptu canonum he endeavored to strengthen his episcopal position. But his courage failed at last, and spiritual distress found expression in his De proprio lapsu and De otioso sermone. His mistrust and his opponents' hatred alike increased; Ratherius declared the ordinations of his rival, Milo, invalid, and was forced to retract; his cordial reception at the court of the two Ottos at Verona in 967 failed to restore his prestige; and in 968 an imperial tribunal decided against his administration, while the emperor urged him, in the interests of all concerned, to resign his bishopric. In the same year he returned once more to Laubach, only to become involved in disputes with the young abbot of the monastery, who was at last forced from his position. Possessed of considerable wealth accumulated at Verona, Ratherius continued to devise all sorts of simoniacal projects, until, in 974, he died a refugee in the castle of the count of Namur.
Though deeply versed in both sacred and secular learning, Ratherius was a scion of his time in his aversion to original productivity. His writings were invariably publicistic and personal, and form only a commentary on the vicissitudes of his own life. As contrasted with the calm of the Carolingian period, Ratherius felt the doctrines and precepts of the Church to be problematical and subject to criticism. At the same time, he remained loyal, even though he doubted; he was neither a reformer nor a promoter of learning; and only his sharply defined personality renders him perennially interesting. In his Qualitatis conjectura cujusdam (written in 965-966) much autobiographical material is contained. The complete works of Ratherius were first collected and edited by Pietro and Girolamo Ballerini (Verona, 1765), and reprinted in MPL, cxxxvi.