It’s been a good week for the Benedictine family. Only a few days earlier, we celebrated the solemnity of our founder, St. Benedict of Nursia. This weekend we celebrate the feast day of another great Benedictine saint, St. Henry II, who is said to have been cured of a physical ailment by a simple touch from St. Benedict at Monte Cassino.
Want to know more about this inspiring saint? Here are 5 facts about this reluctant ruler who would’ve rather be ruled by our Heavenly King.
He’s co-patron of Benedictine Oblates alongside St. Frances of Rome
It’s no surprise that the patron saints for Oblates desired to become religious but neither were able to do so. St. Frances of Rome famously cried to confessor about wanting to become a nun only to be met with “do you want to do God’s will or your own?” Similarly, St. Henry desired to become a monk and asked permission to do so. Much to his delight, he was accepted. However, that didn’t work out quite like he wanted because he was ordered (as an act of obedience) to return to his duties and live his life as an emperor. It is a good reminder that God’s will and plans are better than our own. He was declared patron of the Oblates by Pope Pius X.
He was reluctant to become an emperor
St. Henry knew the dangers that came with that kind of power. Instead of craving the power he was to inherit, he immersed himself in prayer and cultivated both humility and a fear of displeasing God. Even so, he knew the responsibilities he had and actively tried to promote peace in his kingdom.
He was crowned head of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Benedict VIII in 1014
In order to do become emperor, he had to overcome rivals, imposters, and a slew of other obstacles in his path. As an emperor, he did a lot for good for the Church. He ended up restoring episcopal sees, built a cathedral and a monastery, became a patron of other churches and monasteries, made great contributions to the poor, and even helped advance St. Stephen’s endeavors to help convert the whole of Hungary.
His wife is also a canonized saint
Although his desire to be a monk remained, he did eventually marry. Some claim that his marriage to St. Cunigunde of Luxembourg was never consummated because they took a vow of virginity; choosing to live a Josephite marriage. This has been disputed by many over the years as there is no concrete evidence in favor of it. However, they cannot invalidate the fact that their marriage produced no heirs and that St. Cunigunde was a saintly woman who was canonized in 1200, 54 years after her husband’s canonization.
He’s the patron saint of many difficulties we still face this day
Not only is the patron of Benedictine Oblates, but he’s also patron of his native Bamberg, Germany, against sterility, childless people, disabled people, dukes, kings, and people rejected by religious orders.
All of these facts are just scratching the surface. I highly recommend starting with this webpage and reading more about his life in any additional saint book you can find him in.
St. Henry II, pray for us!