The story is about a rare occasion in history where an emperor achievedsainthood. Born in 972, May 6 to father, Henry the Duke of Bavaria andmother Gisela, daughter of Conrad, king of Burgundy in Bavaria Germany.
St. Henry, also known as Henry 11 (second), received an excellent andspiritual education per his wealthy nobility under St Wolfgang, bishopof Ratisbon at Hildesheim, at a very young age. During his years offormation, he learned more about god and developed personal devotion.
St. Henry was to succeed his father as the Duke of Bavaria when thefather died in 995. He had wanted a quiet life of devotion in service ofGod, but the circumstances of his life had a different path for him.
Journey to Leadership
In the year 1002, six years after st. Henry became the Duke of Bavaria,his cousin Otto 111, the king of Germany, suddenly died from a severefever at the young age of 21, leaving no child behind as he was yet tobe married.
With no clear line of succession in place caused by Otto’s sudden deathand the lack of an heir, Germany found itself in a leadership crisiswith many contenders vying to be the next king of Germany. Among thepowerful contenders were; Count Ezzo of Lotharingia, Duke Herman 11 ofSwabia, Margraue Eckard 1 of Meissen.
After a protracted battle for the next king, st. Henry, supported by theBishop of Augsburg, succeeded his cousin King Otto 111 as the new kingof Germany.
Becoming an Emperor
St. Henry, guided by eternal truth and daily meditation practice, wasnot carried away by the power and dignity of his position as king. Inall things, he sought the greater glory of God and was most watchfulover the welfare of the church. His zeal for the maintenance ofecclesiastical discipline in the church was unrivaled.
Henry’s fame spread at home and abroad, and so his humility. He gainedseveral victories over his enemies but used these with great moderationand clemency. February 14, 1014, Pope benedict V111 crowned him emperorof the holy roman empire. St. Henry traveled to Rome, Italy, where hereceived the imperial crown at the Pope’s hands.
Fatherhood and Legacy
St Henry got married to his wife Cunegunda, the daughter of PalatineSiegfried of Luxembourg, in 999. Both didn’t aspire to it, but becausetheir parents wanted it, it is a duty for a duke to be married equallyto another powerful family.
St Henry and his wife Cunegunda, also a saint in mutual agreement,took the vow of perpetual chastity and never consummated their marriage;thus never had a child. It was unheard of that a legally married noblecouple chose not to have a child but live out the rest of their daysin dedication to the service of God despite their marital and positionalresponsibilities.
St. Henry made numerous pious foundations; he gave liberally to holyinstitutions, founded and built the cathedral of Bamberg in 1006,dedicated by pope benedict V111 in 1020.. St. Henry’s humility andspirit of justice were equal to his zeal for religion.
Like all mortals, st. Henry departed the earth after being ill for awhile in the year1024 at 52 years. St. Henry’s death occurred atGottingen, Germany. Pope Eugene 111 canonized him in 1146, 112 yearsafter his death. His feast day is July 13.
St. Henry is known as the patron of the childless, of Dukes, of thehandicapped, those rejected by the religious order, and BenedictineOblates.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Henry
- St. Henry was the only Holy Roman Emperor to become a saint. Indeed,
he was a different kind of emperor.
- St Henry was a king that has a king ( how else would you explain his
obedience to God and the church?)
- Did you know that St Henry and his wife, St. Cunegunda, hold the
only imperial couple ever canonized record?
- If you didn’t know, the Ottoman Empire ended with st. Henry. He was
the last king of the Ottoman empire, Germany.
- The saint’s humility is top-notch. He once cast himself at the feet
of Herebert, Bishop of Cologne, and begged his pardon for treating
him with coldness over a misunderstanding.
Prayer to St. Henry
Lord,You filled saint Henry with your loveAnd raised him from the cares of an earthly kingdomTo eternal happiness in heavenIn the midst of the changes of this worldMay his prayers keep us free from sinAnd help us on our way towards youThrough Jesus Christ, your sonWho lives and reigns with youIn the unity of the Holy SpiritOne God forever and everAmen.