July 12, 2016

July 13th: Optional Memorial of Saint Henry the Pius, Including Miraculous Events in His Life

St. Henry II and his wife St. Cunigunde of Luxemburg, with the Bamberg Cathedral.
Saint Henry II (972-1024) was the eldest of four children born to Henry the Duke of Bavaria and Gisella, daughter of Conrad, King of Burgundy. St, Henry would become simultaneously the Duke of Bavaria, King of Germany and the last emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He devoted himself to the spread of Christianity by rebuilding churches and founding monasteries. Henry was brought up under the tutelage of Saint Wolfgang, bishop of Ratisbon. He was later educated at the cathedral school of Hildesheim where he would discern the priesthood.

In 995, St. Henry succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria, and in 1002, upon the death of his cousin, Otho III, he was elected emperor. Until the end of his life he displayed the virtues of a great saint. Together with his wife, Saint Cunegunda, he founded the bishopric of Bamberg and, at his death in 1024, was buried in the cathedral there. His holy wife would be laid by his side fifteen years later.

Miraculous Events in the Life of St. Henry

St. Henry, Duke of Bavaria, saw in a vision his guardian, St. Wolfgang, pointing to the words "after six."  This moved him to prepare for death, and for six years he continued to watch and pray, when, at the end of the sixth year, he found the warning verified in his election as emperor. Thus trained in the fear of God, he ascended the throne with but one thought—to reign for His greater glory. The pagan Slaves were then despoiling the empire. Henry attacked them with a small force; but angels and Saints were seen leading his troops, and the heathen fled in despair. Poland and Bohemia, Moravia and Burgundy, were in turn annexed to his kingdom, Pannonia and Hungary won to the Church. With the faith secured in Germany, Henry passed into Italy, drove out the Antipope Gregory, brought Benedict VIII. back to Rome  and was crowned in St. Peter's by that Pontiff, in 1014.

It was Henry's custom, on arriving in any town, to spend his first night in watching in some church dedicated to our Blessed Lady. As he was thus praying in St. Mary Major's, the first night of his arrival in Rome, he "saw the Sovereign and Eternal Priest Christ Jesus" enter to say Mass. SS. Laurence and Vincent assisted as deacon and sub-deacon. Saints innumerable filled the church, and angels sang in the choir. After the Gospel, an angel was sent by our Lady to give Henry the book to kiss. Touching him lightly on the thigh, as the angel did to Jacob, he said, "Accept this sign of God's love for your chastity and justice;" and from that time the emperor always was lame.

Like holy David, Henry employed the fruits of his conquests in the service of the temple. The forests and mines of the empire, the best that his treasury could produce, were consecrated to the sanctuary. Stately cathedrals, noble monasteries, churches innumerable, enlightened and sanctified the once heathen lands. In 1022, Henry lay on his bed of death. He gave back to her parents his wife, St. Cunegunda, "a virgin still, as a virgin he had received her from Christ," and surrendered his own pure soul to God.

Source: Adapted excerpt from Jesus-passion.com.

Patron: Basel, Switzerland; Benedictine Oblates; childless people; disabled people; dukes; handicapped people; kings; people rejected by religious orders; physically challenged people; sterility.

Symbols: Sword and church; lily; crown; dove on an orb; model of Bamberg Cathedral.

Collect Prayer

O God, whose abundant grace prepared Saint Henry to be raised by you in a wonderful way from the cares of earthly rule to heavenly realms, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that amid the uncertainties of this world we may hasten towards you with minds made pure. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

No comments :