Patron of the Disadvantaged
St. Henry, son of Henry, Duke of Bavaria, and of Gisella, daughter of Conrad, King of Burgundy, was born in 972. He was educated 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, Henry was not elated by this dignity and sought in all things the greater glory of God. He was watchful over the welfare of the Church and zealous 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, Henry 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 Ravena. Circumstances several times drove the holy Emperor into war, from which he always came forth victorious. He led and army to the south of Italy against the Saracens and their aliens, the Greeks and drove them from the country.
The Saint’s humility and spirit of justice were equal to 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 monastery, but yielded to the advice of the Abbot of Verdun, and retained his dignity.
Both Henry 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. He was canonized in 1146 by Pope Eugene III.
PRAYER: God, You filled St. Henry with the abundance of Your grace to govern his earthly empire worthily, and called him to share Your glory in heaven. Through his intercession help us to shun the allurements of the world and come to You with pure minds. Amen.