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Friday, July 15, 2011

July 15th, Saint Henry, Emperor and Confessor

Saint Henry, Emperor and Confessor.

Henry II, surnamed the Good, was born in 972, and became successively Duke of Bavaria, King of Germany, and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, of which he was one of the best and holiest of rulers.  Some say that he once wished to become a monk, and vowed obedience to the Abbot of Verdun ; whereupon the Abbot put him under obedience to retain his royal power, and use it always for the extension of God's kingdom.  As Emperor, he earnestly set himself to the furtherance of the cause of godliness.  He restored churches which had been ruined, built and endowed monasteries, founded new dioceses, and ordered various synods of bishops to assemble, and legislate for the better ordering of things ecclesiastical.  * He waged many wars, some against oppressors of the Church, some for the consolidation of the Empire, but all against injustice.  He made frequent visitations throughout his dominions to relieve the poor, prevent oppressions, and enquire into public abuses.  But he never forgot that governance of himself was his first obligation, and so he never undertook anything until he made it a subject of prayer.  Once in battle he is said to have seen, leading his army, the Angel of the Lord, and his own patrons Saints Lawrence, George, and Adrian, under whose protection he had placed his soldiers. * He gave his sister in marriage to King Stephen of Hungary, to whom his example and friendship was of much worth, for Stephen grew in holiness, and is revered as the Saint who brought the Hungarians to Christ.  Henry himself wedded the maiden Cunegunda, who is commemorated in the Martyrology on March 3rd, and revered as a virgin-Saint ; for it is believed that before their marriage they both vowed themselves to virginity.  The perfume of his holy life spread its sweetness far and wide, and the glory of his holiness outshone the splendour of his crown.  When the work of his life was done, he was called by the Lord to the possession of an eternal kingdom, namely, on July 13th, 1024, and his body was buried in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul at Bamberg.  In 1146 he was numbered among the Saints.

O God, who as on this day didst cause thy blessed Confessor Saint Henry to9 pass from the crown of earthly empire to thy everlasting kingdom : we humbly beseech thee, that as by the abundance of thy grace preventing him, thou didst enable him to overcome the temptations of this life, so thou wouldest suffer us, following his pattern, to avoid the deceits of this world, and in perfect purity of heart to attain unto thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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