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Posted by on Jul 13, 2009

Saint of the Day: St. Henry of Germany, Holy Roman Emperor

Saint of the Day: St. Henry of Germany, Holy Roman Emperor

7_13_henry2Holy Roman Emperor = Saint  – Is that even possible? Apparently so.

St. Henry of Germany was born to the Duke of Bavaria (in south Germany) on May 6th 973. He was educated by St. Wolfgang, the Bishop of Ratisbon. In 995 Henry succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria.

Emperor Otto III of the Holy Roman Empire was Henry’s cousin. Upon Otto’s death in 1002, Henry seized the royal insignia from Otto’s companions. His succession was strongly contested, but with the help of the Archbishop of Maniz, Willigis, Henry secured his royal election and coronation on June 7th, 1002. Henry was not crowned Holy Roman Emperor until 1014. He was the fifth and last emperor in the Ottonian dynasty.

As king, Henry worked on consolidating his power. He led successful campaigns against Poland and Italy. He became King of Italy in 1004, and established a lasting peace with the Poles in 1018.

Henry was convinced by Pope Benedict the VIII to make another campaign in Italy. In 1022 Henry set out to counter the growing Byzantine Empire. His objective was to capture the Byzantine Fortress of Troia in southern Italy. Henry used three armies in this campaign, but none of them were able to take Troia. One army, led by Pilgrim, Archbishop of Cologne, captured Pandulf IV, Prince of Capua and extracted oaths of allegiance from the principalityof Salenro and Capua. Henry sent Pandulf IV off to Germany in chains and put Pandulf of Teano in his place as prince. Although Henry failed to take his main objective, he was satisfied in knowing that western imperial authority still extended into southern Italy.

So, how much money did Henry have to bribe the Ministry of Magic with in order to become a Saint? (see Harry Potter for reference). Seizing royal insignia, arranging his rise to power, campaigning, all hardly seem to be Saint-like activities.

But Henry was not all about war and power. Henry was a prayerful man and was very generous to the poor. In fact, in addition to strengthening the German Monarchy, he also worked toward making a stable peace in Europe and helped to reform and reorganize the church. He strongly enforced clerical celibacy, but this was also for his own benefit, so that the public land granted to the church would always return to him upon the death of the cleric and not pass to an heir. This also ensured that the Bishops remained loyal to him (for he was the one to give them their power), which provided protection against ambitious nobles. Henry established multiple monasteries and arranged care for the poor. He built the Cathedral at Bamberg, which became a center for scholarship and art. Along with St. Odilo of Cluny and the other monks at Cluny (in France), Henry supported many religious reforms.  

At one time, Henry came down with an un-named illness and was miraculously cured at the Benedictine Monastery in Monte Cassino. From then on, Henry was very active in promoting Benedictine Monasticism.

Henry was married to St. Cunegund. They had no children and it is said that they had a mutual vow of chastity.

Henry died in 1024 and was canonized in 1146 – the only German king to be canonized. And no, he did not have to bribe the Ministry of Magic. A combination of securing and spreading Faith, caring for the poor, reforming the church, and remaining celibate and prayerful, Henry became a saint through his own actions. He is the patron of the childless, the disabled, Dukes, Kings, people rejected by religious orders, the handicapped, sterility and of the Benedictine Oblates.  


P.S If you  have not figured it out already, this post was not written by Kathy, but by her daughter Rosie 🙂

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