Wednesday, July 12, 2006

St. Henry, Emperor, and Empress Cunegunda, Benedictine Oblates

From The Ecole Glossary

Emperor Henry II

The last Saxon king of Germany, Emperor/St. Henry (c. 972-1024), who was educated by St. Wolfgang of Ratisbon, hoped to be a monk. Legend says that Henry swore obedience to the abbot of St.-Vanne in Verdun who then gave him the charge to rule the empire. Henry succeeded his cousin Otto III as king of Germany in 1002 and abandoned Otto's policies of world domination. Henry hoped instead to restore the kingdom of the Franks and, in so doing, to consolidate the German empire. Pope Benedict VIII crowned Henry Holy Roman Emperor in 1014. A friend of Odo of Cluny, Henry supported monastic reform and established the see of Bamberg, as well as restoring the bishopricks of Hildesheim, Magdeberg, and Meersburg. Henry's philosophy and policy of intimate cooperation between church and state have led some to consider him the epitome of the Christian ruler.

Karen Rae Keck

Copyright © 1997, Karen Rae Keck. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents,
including the header and this copyright remain intact.

St. Cunnegunda was the daughter of Sigfrid, Count of Luxemburg. Received a religious education, and took a private vow of virginity. Married Saint Henry, Duke of Bavaria, who agreed to honour her vow. On the death of Emperor Otho III, Henry was chosen King of the Romans, and Cunegundes was crowned queen at Paderborn in 1002. Holy Roman Empress in 1014, receiving the crown from Pope Benedict VIII.

At one point, gossips accused her of adultery, but she proved her innocence by asking for God's help, then walking over pieces of flaming irons without injury.

During his time as emperor, Henry gave away the bulk of his wealth in charity; when he died in 1024, Cunegundes was left relatively poor. On the 1025 anniversary of his death, which coincided with the dedication of a monastery she had built for Benedictine nuns at Kaffungen, Cunegundes took the veil, and entered that monastery, spending her remaining 15 years praying, reading and following the Rule of St. Benedict. We pray for all Benedictine Oblates today.

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