Monday, July 15, 2013

King St. Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor and Confessor

His life clearly illustrates to us how a good ruler and king can bring about the Social Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ, more than for a multitude of sinners who seek to attempt to reform society in their own image. Such a good king obtains order, justice, true liberty and citizens exercised in true virtue, indeed, a holy nation. Little does the modern world understand this. Anarchy, legalism, a utopian freedom, loaded with chains and the exercise of practices that cast man down beyond the level of the beasts to the waiting arms of satan is the fruit of modern man in his quest for his own dignity.

The example of King Saint Henry shows us the true structure of Church and state. While the two can never be separated, and while each is sovereign in her own domain, yet, always the Church remains the mother and guardian of all laws. As God may never be contradicted, so the Church, when she teaches the truth of God, may never be disobeyed by the state. This was the life and practice of St. Henry, who both sanctified himself in this way and led countless souls to the portals of Heaven.

The Roman Breviary gives us:

Henricus, cognomento Pius, e duce Bavariæ rex Germaniæ ac postmodum Romanorum imperator, temporalis regni non ocntentus angustiis, pro adipiscenda immortalitatis corona sedulam æterno Regi exhibuit servitutem. Adepto enim imperio, religioni amplificandæ studiose incumbens, ecclesias ab infidelibus destructas magnificentius reparavit, plurimisque largitationibus et prædiis locupletavit. Monasteria, aliaque loca pia vel ipse ædificavit, vel assignatis redditibus auxit. Episcopatum Bambergensem, hæreditariis opibus fundatum, beato Petro, Romanoque Pontifici vectigalem fecit. Benedictum Octavum, a quo imperii coronam acceperat, profugum excepit, suæque sedi restituit. Henry surnamed the Pious, Duke of Bavaria, became successively King of Germany, and Emperor of the Romans; but not satisfied with a mere temporal principality, he strove to gain an immortal crown, by paing zealous service to the eternal King. As emperor, he devoted himself earnestly to spreading religion, and rebuilt with great magnificence the Churches which had been destroyed by the infidels, endowing them generously both with money and lands. He built Monasteries and other pious establishments, and increased the income of others; the bishopric of Bamberg, which he had founded out of his family possessions, he made tributary to St. Peter and the Roman Pontiff. When Benedict VIII, who had crowned him emperor, was obliged to seek safety in flight, Henry received him and restored him to his See.
In Cassinensi monasterior gravi detentus infirmatate, a Sancto Benedicto, insigni miraculo, sanatus est. Romanam Ecclesiam emplissimo diplomate muneratus, eidem tuendæ bellum adversus Græcos suscepit, et Apuliam, diu ab illis possessam, recuperavit. Nihil sine precibus aggredi solitus, Angelum Domini sanctosque Martyres tutelares pro se pugnantes ante aciem interdum vidit. Divina autem protectus ope, barbaras nationes precibus magis quam armis expugnavit. Pannoniam ad huc infidelem, tradita Stephano regi sorore sua in uxorem, eoque baptizato, ad Christi fidem perduxit. Virginitatem, raro exemplo, matrimonio junxit, sanctamque Cunegundam, conjugem suam, propinquis ejus, morti proximus, illibatam restituit. Once when he was suffering from a severe illness in the Monastery of Monte Cassino, St. Benedict cured him, by a wonderful miracle. He endowed the Roman Church with a most copious grant, undertook in her defence a war against the Greeks, and gained possession of Apulia, which they had held for some time. It was his custom to undertake nothing without prayer, and at times he saw the angel of the Lord, or the holy Martyrs, his patrons, fighting for him at the head of his army. Aided thus by the Divine protection, he overcame barbarous nations more by prayer than by arms. Hungary was still pagan; but Henry having given his sister in marriage to its King Stephen, the latter was baptized, and thus the whole nation was brought to the faith of Christ. He set the rare example of preserving virginity in the married state, and at his death restored his wife, St. Cunigund, a virgin, to her family.
Denique rebus omnibus, quæ ad imperii honorem et utilitatem pertinebant, summa prudentia dispositis, et illustribus per Galliam, Italiam et Germaniam, religiosæ munificentiæ vestigiis passim relictic, postquam heroicæ virtutis suavissimum odorem longe lateque diffuderat, sanctitate quam sceptre clarior, ad regni cœlestis præmia, consummatis vitæ laboribus, a Domino vacatus est, anno salutis millesimo vigesimo quarto. Cujus corpus in ecclesia beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli Bambergæ conditum fuit; statimque ad ejus tumulum multa miracula, Deo ipsum glorificante, patrata sunt: quibus postea rite probatis, Eugenius Tertius Sanctorum numero illum adscripsit. He arranged everything relating to the glory or advantage of his empire with the greatest prudence, and left scattered throughout Gaul, Italy, and Germany, traces of his munificence towards religion. The sweet odour of his heroic virtue spread far and wide, till he was more celebrated for his holiness than for his imperial dignity. At length his life’s work was accomplished and he was called by our Lord to the rewards of his heavenly kingdom, in the year of salvation, 1024. His body was buried in the Church of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul at Bamberg. God wished to glorify his servant, and many miracles were worked at his tomb. These being afterwards proved and certified, Eugenius III inscribed his name upon the catalogue of the Saints.


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