This picture shows the epitaph of Cistercian monk Hartwig who was killed in 1390.
He held the office of the cloister reeve at Dargun monastery in what is now Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany.
This office was often assigned by the abbot to local knights. However, this was not always the case. Monks as reeves are also known from Doberan monastery from the mid-14th century onwards.
Both these monasteries, like many others, held not only the lower but also high jurisdiction within the immediate monastery area aswell as in the access yards (Grangien) and in many of the villages belonging to the monastery. These areas where explicitly exempt from secular jurisdiction. The surviving manuscripts from Doberan record at least one case of execution of a Rostock citizen who was convicted by a jury presided by the abbot. The 16th century inventory of Doberan lists torture instruments in the monastery's prison.
In my opinion it is not unlikely that the depiction of a sword on Brother Hartwig's epitaph is not just symbolic. While warlike bishops are well-known from history, this is an interesting example of a lower clergy man whose office would at times have required the use of a sword.
The main inscription reads:
A(nn)o do(mini) M° ccc° / xc i(n) die p(ro)thy (et) iaci(n) cti occis(us) fuit frat(er) / (ha)rtwic(us) ad / vo(ca)t(us) in darghu(n) labo(r)ios(us) fidel(is) benig(nus) ad o(mn)es
In the year of the Lord 1390 on the day Proti Jacincti (11 September) Brother Hartwig, advocate in Dargun, was murdered. He was laborious, believing and beneficient to all.
The inscription around his shoulders quotes from the Book of Job.
Katalog zur Ausstellung "Ich bin ein Gast auf Erden", Schwerin, Rostock, 1995;
Sven Wichert, Das Zisterzienserkloster Doberan im Mittelalter, Berlin, 2000)