Today is the optional memorial of St. Henry. Henry II, successively Duke of Bavaria, King of Germany and Emperor, devoted himself to the spread of religion by rebuilding churches and founding monasteries.
Henry II, son of Henry, Duke of Bavaria, and of Gisella, daughter of Conrad, King of Burgundy, was born in 972. He succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria, and in 1002, he was elected emperor. In 1014, he went to Rome and received the imperial crown at the hands of Pope Benedict VIII.
Henry worked hard to establish peace in Europe. However, to defend justice, he had to fight many wars. He was honest in battle and insisted that his armies be honorable too.
Henry married a gentle and loving woman named Cunegund (or Kunigunda) around 998. She, too, has been proclaimed a saint. The couple remained childless. Some sources claim the two lived chastely, but there is no proof of this.
Emperor Henry was one of the best rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. He promoted needed reforms in the monasteries and strengthened the various ecclesiastical sees of his kingdom, built churches and monasteries, and ruled wisely, tempering justice with mercy. He was a man of prayer and was greatly attracted to religious life, but accepted his role as husband and ruler and fulfilled his duties generously.
Henry was just fifty-two when he died in 1024. He was proclaimed a saint by Blessed Eugene III in 1146. Pope St. Pius X named Emperor Henry the patron of Benedictine Oblates.
Patronage: Basel, Switzerland; Benedictine Oblates; childless people; disabled people; dukes; handicapped people; kings; people rejected by religious orders; physically challenged people; sterility.
Symbols: Sword and church; lily; crown; dove on an orb; model of Bamburg cathedral.