Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saint Henry

St Henry (973-1024) with his wife St Cunegundes

As German king and Holy Roman Emperor, Henry was a practical man of affairs. Born in 973 AD, he was the last member of the Ottonian dynasty of Emperors. He became king of Germany following the sudden death of his second-cousin Emperor Otto III in 1002 and was crowned as Emperor in 1014. He was energetic in consolidating his rule. He crushed rebellions and feuds. On all sides he had to deal with drawn-out disputes so as to protect his frontiers. This involved him in a number of battles, especially in the south in Italy; he also helped Pope Benedict VIII quell disturbances in Rome. Always his ultimate purpose was to establish a stable peace in Europe. According to eleventh-century custom, Henry took advantage of his position and appointed as bishops men loyal to him. In his case, however, he avoided the pitfalls of this practice and actually fostered the reform of ecclesiastical and monastic life. Both he and his wife, St. Cunegundes, lived in perpetual chastity, to which they had bound themselves by vow. The Saint made numerous pious foundations, gave liberally to pious institutions and built the Cathedral of Bamberg. His holy death occurred at the castle of Grone, near Halberstad, on July 13, 1024. He is the patron saint of the childless, of Dukes, of the handicapped and those rejected by Religious Order. He was canonized in 1146. All in all, this saint was a man of his times. From our standpoint, he may have been too quick to do battle and too ready to use power to accomplish reforms. But, granted such limitations, he shows that holiness is possible in a busy secular life.

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