King Saint Henry II – 972-1024 Co-Patron (with St. France of Rome) of Benedictine Oblates

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[According to one account, Henry actually took vows as a Benedictine.  But the abbot told him that under holy obedience, he must resume his responsibilities as king.  Hence, no doubt, the reason he is a co-patron of Benedictine oblates.]

The following is take from Belmont Abbey’s oblates page.

St. Henry, son of Henry, Duke of Bavaria, and of Gisella, daughter of Conrad, King of Burgundy, was born in 972. He received an excellent education under the care of St. Wolfgang, Bishop of Ratisbon. 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. Firmly anchored upon the great eternal truths, which the practice of meditation kept alive in his heart, he was not elated by this dignity and sought in all things the greater glory of God. He was most watchful over the welfare of the Church and exerted his zeal for the maintenance of ecclesiastical discipline through the instrumentality of the Bishops. He gained several victories over his enemies, both at home and abroad, but he used these with great moderation and clemency. In 1014, he went to Rome and received the imperial crown at the hands of Pope Benedict VIII. On that occasion he confirmed the donation, made by his predecessors to the Pope, of the sovereignty of Rome and the exarchate of Ravenna. Circumstances several times drove the holy Emperor into war, from which he always came forth victorious. He led an army to the south of Italy against the Saracens and their allies, the Greeks, and drove them from the country. The humility and spirit of justice of the Saint were equal to his zeal for religion. He cast himself at the feet of Herebert, Bishop of Cologne, and begged his pardon for having treated him with coldness, on account of a misunderstanding. He wished to abdicate and retire into a monastery, but yielded to the advice of the Abbot of Verdun, and retained his dignity. 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, in 1024.

After the most blessed servant of God had been anointed king, he was not satisfied with the anxieties of his realm; so, in order to attain the crown of immortality, he determined to campaign for the King of all, for to serve him is to rule. Accordingly, he applied the utmost energy to the extension of religious worship and began to enrich the churches with property and to furnish them with extensive adornment. He re-established the see of Bamberg in his own domain, dedicating it to Peter and Paul, the princes of the apostles, and to the most revered Saint George, the martyr; by a special law he submitted it to the holy Church of Rome, to pay the honour due by divine right to the first see and also to secure his foundation under Rome’s patronage. But to show more clearly how carefully this holy man provided his church with the benefits of peace and tranquillity even after his death, we here include his letter of establishment.

“Henry, king by the preordained mercy of God, to all the sons of the Church, both future and present. By the most salutary instructions of sacred eloquence we are taught and advised to abandon temporal riches, to lay aside earthly goods, and to strive to reach the eternal and everlasting dwelling-places in heaven. For present glory is fleeting and meaningless, while it is possessed, unless in it we can glimpse something of heaven’s eternity. But God’s mercy toward the human race provided a useful remedy when he made the reward for earthly existence a share in our heavenly country.

“Therefore, not unmindful of this clemency and aware that by the gratuitous consideration of divine mercy we were raised up to a position of regal dignity, we think it fitting not only to enlarge the churches constructed by our ancestors, but for the greater glory of God to build new ones and to raise them up as the most grateful gifts of our devotion. Furthermore, not turning a deaf ear to the Lord’s commandments and obediently following divine urgings, we desire to take the treasures of divine generosity bestowed on us by his bounty and store them in heaven, where thieves cannot dig them up or steal them and rust or moth may not destroy them. Moreover, when we reflect upon all that we have now stored up, our heart will be often drawn with longing and love.

“Accordingly we wish to make known to all the faithful that we have designated a portion of our paternal heritage called Babenberch to be raised to the dignity of an episcopal see so that there we ourselves and our parents may be held in glorious memory, and that the sacrifice of salvation may be offered constantly for all the faithful”.

From an Ancient Life of St. Henry
(MGH, Sciptores 4:792-799)

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