top of page

St. martyr Berthold, Bishop of Livonia

Information about the martyr Berthold (Schulte) is not numerous, it is known that he came from a family of ministers who lived in northern Germany near the town of Stade (present-day Lower Saxony) and was the abbot of the Cistercian monastery in Lokum (Lower Saxony). In 1188, on behalf of the Roman Curia, he took over the mediation of the conflict between the Archbishop of Bremen and his head . This shows that he was famous in Rome and at the same time speaks of his peacekeeping abilities. In the 1190s, together with Maynard, the first Livonian bishop, he was a missionary in Livonia. In 1196, after the death of Bishop Maynard, Archbishop Hartwig of Bremen ordained St. Berthold as Bishop of Livonia. Only under pressure from the archbishop did he agree to accept episcopal dignity.

After ordination, Bishop Berthold comes in and reminds Ikshkel Livia he came upon their request. It was initially well received, but during the consecration of Sally Cemetery (the first Christian cemetery in Livonia mentioned in historical sources), a conflict arose. The reasons for this conflict are not entirely clear, but perhaps the bishop did not allow pagans to perform their rituals during the consecration of the cemetery. Then the pagans decide to kill him.

The bishop was forced to return to Saxony, where he informed the archbishop and the pope about the situation in Livonia. Pope Celestine III called on the pilgrims to go to Livonia (the bull is not preserved) to protect the Church. In 1197/1198 the bishop visited Saxony and Westphalia to gather pilgrims.


In 1198, Berthold and the Crusaders arrived in Livonia. Negotiations with the pagans did not lead to anything and the bishop returned to the settlement of Riga (the place of Riga). The Livonian army also arrived there. A truce was made, but due to the betrayal of the Livs , who killed several pilgrims who went for food, the battle began. It took place on the Riga hill (Ancient hill, Kube hill), approximately on the territory of the present Esplanade, and it seems to have been very short. Knights start in attack, the eligible began to flee. Bishop Berthold could not handle his horse and was taken by him to the ranks of the Gentiles. The unarmed and gray-haired old man was captured by two leftists , and the third, named Imaut, stabbed him in the back with a spear. A mob of pagans tore him apart. Thus, Bishop Berthold became the first martyr on Latvian soil, irrigating with his blood those Gospel seeds planted by Bishop Maynard, which the future Bishop Albert will nurture in the future.

Immediately after his death, Bishop Berthold was honored as a martyr in his Cistercian order and in Livonia. In 1226, when the papal legate Giuliermo visited Livonia, he first went to Ikshkele to honor the relics of the first two bishops, Confessor Maynard and Martyr Berthold. Later, their relics were transferred to the Dome Cathedral of Riga, where they found their rest.


Holy Martyr Bertholde, pray to God for us!


bottom of page