September 24, 2017

Bl. Herman the Cripple, Author of the Salve Regina

Bl. Herman the Cripple

September 25th is historically, and in many Benedictine houses, the feast day of Blessed Herman the Cripple, also known as Hermannus Contractus, (Latin meaning contracted one) or Herman of Reichenau, (1013-1054) a monk, 11th century scholar, composer, musical theorist, mathematician, and astronomer. He composed the Marian prayers Alma Redemptoris Mater, and the Salve Regina ("Hail Holy Queen") which is recited each time the most Holy Rosary is prayed.

Despite significant physical limitations and immense suffering, the bright and contemplative mind of Blessed Herman advanced not only our understanding of the physical world, but furthered our devotion to Our Blessed Mother, Mary. His contributions to both science and faith remind us that regardless of appearance or apparent physical abilities, we each possess God-given gifts and talents. Due to Bl. Herman's prodigious achievements, he was called "The Wonder of His Age."

He wrote extensively on mathematical and astronomical topics, and was versed in theology, music, astronomy, mathematics, Latin, Greek and Arabic. His work chronicling the history of the world survives to this day. He was professed a monk at the age of 30, and continued to write, producing works of spiritual depth. Of note, his treatise “On the Eight Principal Vices,” which he wrote in a poetic style.

More than his writings, however, Herman was known for his gentleness, joy and sweet disposition. Never was he heard to complain, despite the fact that most activities were painful and difficult. Rather, he was recognized to have a smile for all, and became a beacon of hope and love throughout the monastery. Students would travel great distances to study with him, learning not only their academic subjects but also strength of character, holiness and humility. [Adapted source]

Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen)

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Alma Redemptoris Mater (Loving Mother of Our Redeemer)

O loving Mother of our Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea,
Hasten to aid thy fallen people who strive to rise once more.
Thou who brought forth thy holy Creator, all creation wond'ring,
Yet remainest ever Virgin, taking from Gabriel's lips
that joyful "Hail!": be merciful to us sinners.

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