dimanche 15 juillet 2012

Saint HENRI II, empereur


SAINT HENRI II

Empereur d'Allemagne

(972-1024)

Saint Henri, surnommé le Pieux, appartenait à la famille impériale des Othons d'Allemagne, qui joua un si grand rôle au moyen âge. Touché d'une grâce spéciale de Dieu, il fit, jeune encore, un acte de hardiesse que lui eût dissuadé la prudence humaine, en promettant à Dieu de ne s'attacher qu'à Lui et en Lui vouant la continence perpétuelle. Héritier du royaume de Bavière par la mort de son père, il se vit obligé de prendre une épouse, pour ne pas s'exposer à la révolte de son royaume; le choix du peuple et le sien se porta sur la noble Cunégonde, digne en tous points de cet honneur. Elle avait fait, dès son adolescence, le même voeu que son mari.

Henri, devenu plus tard empereur d'Allemagne, justifia la haute idée qu'on avait conçue de lui par la sagesse de son gouvernement ainsi que par la pratique de toutes les vertus qui font les grands rois, les héros et les Saints. Il s'appliquait à bien connaître toute l'étendue de ses devoirs, pour les remplir fidèlement, il priait, méditait la loi divine, remédiait aux abus et aux désordres, prévenait les injustices et protégeait le peuple contre les excès de pouvoirs et ne passait dans aucun lieu sans assister les pauvres par d'abondantes aumônes. Il regardait comme ses meilleurs amis ceux qui le reprenaient librement de ses fautes, et s'empressait de réparer les torts qu'il croyait avoir causés.

Cependant son âme si élevée gémissait sous le poids du fardeau de la dignité royale. Un jour, comme il visitait le cloître de Vannes, il s'écria: "C'est ici le lieu de mon repos; voilà la demeure que j'ai choisie!" Et il demanda à l'abbé de le recevoir sur-le-champ. Le religieux lui répondit qu'il était plus utile sur le trône que dans un couvent; mais, sur les instances du prince, l'abbé se servit d'un moyen terme:

"Voulez-vous, lui dit-il, pratiquer l'obéissance jusqu'à la mort?

– Je le veux, répondit Henri.

– Et moi, dit l'abbé, je vous reçois au nombre de mes religieux; j'accepte la responsabilité de votre salut, si vous voulez m'obéir.

– Je vous obéirai.

– Eh bien! Je vous commande, au nom de l'obéissance, de reprendre le gouvernement de votre empire et de travailler plus que jamais à la gloire de Dieu et au salut de vos sujets." Henri se soumit en gémissant.

Sa carrière devait être, du reste, bientôt achevée. Près de mourir, prenant la main de Cunégonde, il dit à sa famille présente:

"Vous m'aviez confié cette vierge, je la rends vierge au Seigneur et à vous."

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/henri_II.html



Saint Henri,

Empereur romain-germanique


Né en 973, au moment où disparaissait son oncle, Othon le Grand, fondateur du Saint Empire Romain-Germanique, Henri était l’aîné des quatre enfants du duc de Bavière, Henri le Querelleur, devenu, sur le tard, Henri le Pacifique. Sa mère, Gisèle, sage et pieuse, qui l’avait formé à la vertu et à la prière dès sa prime enfance, le confia d’abord aux chanoines réguliers d’Hildesheim (Saxe), puis à saint Wolfgang, bénédictin évangélisateur de la Hongrie, alors évêque de Ratisbonne (mort le 31 octobre 994).

Lorsque son père mourut (28 août 995), Henri fut élu par la noblesse duc de Bavière et confirmé par le Roi. Dès 996, il accompagne Othon III en Italie pour secourir le Pape contre les Romains révoltés. Un peu plus tard, il épouse la vertueuse Cunégonde de Luxembourg. A la mort d’Othon III (23 janvier 1002), les ducs de Saxe et de Lorraine s’effacent devant la candidature d’Henri qui est élu par la diète de Werla, contre le duc Hermann de Souabe. Hermann gardant la rive gauche du Rhin, Henri renonce à se faire couronner à Aix-la-Chapelle et reçoit l’onction à Mayence. D’abord occupé à soumettre ses vassaux allemands, il doit aller pacifier l’Italie dont il reçoit la couronne, à Pavie, puis mâter les révoltes de Flandre et de Frise et, enfin, tenter de repousser le duc Boleslaw de Pologne.

Après avoir conforté la position du pape Benoît VIII, il en reçoit la couronne impériale, à Saint-Pierre de Rome (14 février 1014) et s’efforce vainement d’établir sa souveraineté sur le couloir rhodanien. A la demande de Benoît VIII, il descend au sud de l’Italie, menacé par les Byzantins : il entre à Bénévent (1002), prend Capoue, délivre le Mont-Cassin et regagne l’Allemagne en passant par Rome.

Tombé malade au début de 1024, il va cependant faire ses pâques à Magdebourg, reste à Goslar d’avril à juin où il prend la route de l’Ouest, mais il meurt au château de Grona. Il est enterré à la cathédrale de Bamberg.

Saint Henri, canonisé par Eugène III, fut, toute sa vie, zélé pour la réforme de l’Eglise pour quoi il préside de nombreux synodes en faveur de la stricte application de discipline canonique et de la condamnation des contrevenants, quel que soit leur rang ; il veilla scrupuleusement à nommer des évêques dignes de leurs fonctions et favorisa les monastères. La sainteté de sa vie est attestée par tous et l’on sait qu’il observa la chasteté conjugale. Cunégonde fut canonisée par Innocent III.



Saint Henri

Né en 973, couronné empereur d'Occident à Rome en 1014, Henri II mourut en 1024 et fut inhumé dans la cathédrale de Bamberg qu'il avait fondée. Avec son épouse Cunégonde, Henri vécut d'une vie quasi monastique. Sans négliger ses charges temporelles, il travailla activement à la réforme de l'Église en Germanie et en Italie.

SOURCE : http://www.paroisse-saint-aygulf.fr/index.php/prieres-et-liturgie/saints-par-mois/icalrepeat.detail/2015/07/13/935/-/saint-henri

Henri II. Déposition à Bamberg le 13 juillet 1024. Canonisé en 1145. Mémoire au calendrier sous Urbain VIII le 13 juillet en la fête de St Anaclet. Semidouble en 1668 le 15 juillet.


Leçons des Matines avant 1960.

Au deuxième nocturne.

Quatrième leçon. Henri, surnommé le Pieux, duc de Bavière, puis roi de Germanie, et enfin empereur des Romains, ne se contenta point des bornes étroites d’une domination temporelle. Aussi pour obtenir la couronne de l’immortalité, se montra-t-il le serviteur dévoué du Roi Éternel. Une -fois maître de l’empire, il mit son application et ses soins à étendre la religion, réparant avec beaucoup de magnificence les églises détruites par les infidèles et les enrichissant de largesses et de propriétés considérables, érigeant lui-même des monastères et d’autres établissements religieux, ou augmentant leurs revenus. L’évêché de Bamberg, fondé avec ses ressources patrimoniales, fut rendu par lui tributaire de Saint-Pierre et du Pontife romain. Benoît VIII étant fugitif, il le recueillit et le rétablit sur son Siège. C’est de ce Pape qu’il avait reçu la couronne impériale.

Cinquième leçon. Retenu au Mont-Cassin par une grave maladie, il en fut guéri d’une manière toute miraculeuse, grâce à l’intercession de saint Benoît. Il publia une charte importante spécifiant de grandes libéralités en faveur de l’Église romaine, entreprit pour la défendre une guerre contre les Grecs, et recouvra la Pouille, qu’ils avaient longtemps possédée. Ayant coutume de ne rien entreprendre sans avoir prié, il vit plus d’une fois l’Ange du Seigneur et les saints combattre aux premières lignes, pour sa cause. Avec le secours divin, il triompha des nations barbares plus par les prières que par les armes. La Pannonie était encore infidèle ; il sut l’amener à la foi de Jésus-Christ, en donnant sa sœur comme épouse au roi Etienne, qui demanda le baptême. Exemple rare : il unit l’état de virginité à l’état du mariage et sur le point de mourir, il remit sainte Cunégonde, son épouse, entre les mains de ses proches, dans son intégrité virginale.

Sixième leçon. Enfin après avoir disposé avec la plus grande prudence tout ce qui se rapportait à l’honneur et à l’utilité de l’empire, laissé ça et là, en Gaule, en Italie et en Germanie, des marques éclatantes de sa religieuse munificence, répandu au loin la plus suave odeur d’une vertu héroïque, et consommé les labeurs de cette vie, il fut appelé par le Seigneur à la récompense du royaume céleste, l’an du salut mil vingt-quatre. Sa sainteté l’a rendu plus célèbre que le sceptre qu’il a porté. Son corps fut déposé à Bamberg, dans l’église des saints Apôtres Pierre et Paul. Dieu le glorifia bientôt après par de nombreux miracles opérés auprès de son tombeau ; ces prodiges ayant été canoniquement prouvés, Eugène III l’a inscrit au catalogue des Saints.

Au troisième nocturne.

Lecture du saint Évangile selon saint Luc. Cap. 12, 35-40.

En ce temps-là : Jésus dit à ses disciples : Que vos reins soient ceints, et les lampes allumées dans vos mains. Et le reste.

Homélie de saint Grégoire, Pape. Homelia 13 in Evang.

Septième leçon. Mes très chers frères, le sens de la lecture du saint Évangile que vous venez d’entendre est très clair. Mais de crainte qu’elle ne paraisse, à cause de sa simplicité même, trop élevée à quelques-uns, nous la parcourrons brièvement, afin d’en exposer la signification à ceux qui l’ignorent, sans cependant être à charge à ceux qui la connaissent. Le Seigneur dit : « Que vos reins soient ceints ». Nous ceignons nos reins lorsque nous réprimons les penchants de la chair par la continence. Mais parce que c’est peu de chose de s’abstenir du mal, si l’on ne s’applique également, et par des efforts assidus, à faire du bien, notre Seigneur ajoute aussitôt : « Ayez en vos mains des lampes allumées ». Nous tenons en nos mains des lampes allumées, lorsque nous donnons à notre prochain, par nos bonnes œuvres, des exemples qui l’éclairent. Le Maître désigne assurément ces œuvres-là, quand il dit : « Que votre lumière luise devant les hommes, afin qu’ils voient vos bonnes œuvres, et qu’ils glorifient votre Père qui est dans les cieux ».

Huitième leçon. Voilà donc les deux choses commandées : ceindre ses reins, et tenir des lampes ; ce qui signifie que la chasteté doit parer notre corps, et la lumière de la vérité briller dans nos œuvres. L’une de ces vertus n’est nullement capable de plaire à notre Rédempteur si l’autre ne l’accompagne. Celui qui fait des bonnes actions ne peut lui être agréable s’il n’a renoncé à se souiller par la luxure, ni celui qui garde une chasteté parfaite, s’il ne s’exerce à la pratique des bonnes œuvres. La chasteté n’est donc point une grande vertu sans les bonnes œuvres, et les bonnes œuvres ne sont rien sans la chasteté. Mais si quelqu’un observe les deux préceptes, il lui reste le devoir de tendre par l’espérance à la patrie céleste, et de prendre garde qu’en s’éloignant des vices, il ne le fasse pour l’honneur de ce monde.

Neuvième leçon. « Et vous, soyez semblables à des hommes qui attendent que leur maître revienne des noces, afin que lorsqu’il viendra et frappera à la porte, ils lui ouvrent aussitôt ». Le Seigneur vient en effet quand il se prépare à nous juger ; et il frappe à la porte, lorsque, par les peines de la maladie, il nous annonce une mort prochaine. Nous lui ouvrons aussitôt, si nous l’accueillons avec amour. Il ne veut pas ouvrir à son juge lorsqu’il frappe, celui qui tremble de quitter son corps, et redoute de voir ce juge qu’il se souvient avoir méprisé ; mais celui qui se sent rassuré, et par son espérance et par ses œuvres, ouvre aussitôt au Seigneur lorsqu’il frappe à la porte, car il reçoit son Juge avec joie. Et quand le moment de la mort arrive, sa joie redouble à la pensée d’une glorieuse récompense.


Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique

Henri de Germanie, deuxième du nom quant à la royauté, premier quant à l’empire, fut le dernier représentant couronné de cette maison de Saxe issue d’Henri l’Oiseleur, à laquelle Dieu, au dixième siècle, confia la mission de relever l’œuvre de Charlemagne et de saint Léon III. Noble tige, où l’éclat des fleurs de sainteté qui brillent en ses rameaux l’emporte encore sur la puissance dont elle parut douée, quand elle implanta dans le sol allemand les racines des fortes institutions qui lui donnèrent consistance pour de longs siècles.

L’Esprit-Saint, qui divise comme il veut ses dons [1], appelait alors aux plus hautes destinées la terre où, plus que nulle part, s’était montrée l’énergie de son action divine dans la transformation des peuples. Acquise au Christ par saint Boniface et les continuateurs de son œuvre, la vaste contrée qui s’étend au delà du Rhin et du Danube était devenue le boulevard de l’Occident, sur lequel durant tant d’années elle avait versé la dévastation et la ruine. Loin de songer à soumettre à ses lois les redoutables tribus qui l’habitaient, Rome païenne, au plus haut point de sa puissance, avait eu pour suprême ambition la pensée d’élever entre elles et l’Empire un mur de séparation éternelle ; Rome chrétienne, plus véritablement souveraine du monde, plaçait dans ces régions le siège même du Saint-Empire Romain reconstitué par ses Pontifes. Au nouvel Empire de défendre les droits de la Mère commune, de protéger la chrétienté contre les barbares nouveaux, de conquérir à l’Évangile ou de briser les hordes hongroises et slaves, mongoles, tartares et ottomanes qui successivement viendront heurter ses frontières. Heureuse l’Allemagne, si toujours elle avait su comprendre sa vraie gloire, si surtout la fidélité de ses princes au vicaire de l’Homme-Dieu était restée à la hauteur de la foi de leurs peuples !

Dieu, en ce qui était de lui, avait soutenu magnifiquement les avances qu’il faisait à la Germanie. La fête présente marque le couronnement de la période d’élaboration féconde où l’Esprit-Saint, l’ayant créée comme à nouveau dans les eaux de la fontaine sacrée, voulut la conduire au plein développement de l’âge parfait qui convient aux nations. C’est dans cette période de formation véritablement créatrice que l’historien doit s’attacher principalement à étudier les peuples, s’il veut savoir ce qu’attend d’eux la Providence. Quand Dieu crée en effet, dans l’ordre de la vocation surnaturelle des hommes ou des sociétés coin nie dans celui de la nature elle-même, il dépose dès l’abord en son œuvre le principe de la vie plus ou moins supérieure qui doit être la sienne : germe précieux dont le développement, s’il n’est contrarié, doit lui faire atteindre sa fin ; dont par suite aussi la connaissance, pour qui sait l’observer avant toute déviation, manifeste clairement à l’endroit de l’œuvre en question la pensée divine. Or, maintes fois déjà nous l’avons constaté depuis l’avènement de l’Esprit sanctificateur, le principe de vie des nations chrétiennes est la sainteté de leurs origines : sainteté multiple, aussi variée que la multiforme Sagesse de Dieu dont elles doivent être l’instrument [2], aussi distincte pour chacune d’elles que le seront leurs destinées ; sainteté le plus souvent descendant du trône, et douée par là du caractère social que trop de fois plus tard revêtiront aussi les crimes des princes, en raison même de ce titre de princes qui les fait devant Dieu représentants de leurs peuples. Déjà aussi nous l’avons vu [3] : au nom de Marie, devenue dans sa divine maternité le canal de toute vie pour le monde, c’est à la femme qu’est dévolue la mission d’enfanter devant Dieu les familles des nations [4] qui seront l’objet de ses prédilections les plus chères ; tandis que les princes, fondateurs apparents des empires, occupent par leurs hauts faits l’avant-scène de l’histoire, c’est elle qui, dans le douloureux secret de ses larmes et de ses prières, féconde leurs œuvres, élève leurs desseins au-dessus de la terre et leur obtient la durée.

L’Esprit ne craint point de se répéter dans cette glorification de la divine Mère ; aux Clotilde, Radegonde et Bathilde, qui pour elles donnèrent en des temps laborieux les Francs à l’Église, répondent sous des cieux différents, et toujours à l’honneur de la bienheureuse Trinité, Mathilde, Adélaïde et Cunégonde, joignant sur leurs fronts la couronne des saints au diadème de la Germanie. Sur le chaos du dixième siècle, d’où l’Allemagne devait sortir, plane sans interruption leur douce figure, plus forte contre l’anarchie que le glaive des Othon, rassérénant dans la nuit de ces temps l’Église et le monde. Au commencement enfin de ce siècle onzième qui devait si longtemps encore attendre son Hildebrand, lorsque les anges du sanctuaire pleuraient partout sur des autels souillés, quel spectacle que celui de l’union virginale dans laquelle s’épanouit cette glorieuse succession qui, comme lasse de donner seulement des héros à la terre, ne veut plus fructifier qu’au ciel ! Pour la patrie allemande, un tel dénouement n’était pas abandon, mais prudence suprême ; car il engageait Dieu miséricordieusement au pays qui, du sein de l’universelle corruption, faisait monter vers lui ce parfum d’holocauste : ainsi, à l’encontre des revendications futures de sa justice, étaient par avance comme neutralisées les iniquités des maisons de Franconie el de Souabe, qui succédèrent à la maison de Saxe et n’imitèrent pas ses vertus.

Que la terre donc s’unisse au ciel pour célébrer aujourd’hui l’homme qui donna leur consécration dernière aux desseins de l’éternelle Sagesse à cette heure de l’histoire ; il résume en lui l’héroïsme et la sainteté de la race illustre dont la principale gloire est de l’avoir, tout un siècle, préparé dignement pour les hommes et pour Dieu. Il fut grand pour les hommes, qui, durant un long règne, ne surent qu’admirer le plus de la bravoure ou de l’active énergie grâce auxquelles, présent à la fois sur tous les points de son vaste empire, toujours heureux, il sut comprimer les révoltes du dedans, dompter les Slaves à sa frontière du Nord, châtier l’insolence grecque au midi de la péninsule italique ; pendant que, politique profond, il aidait la Hongrie à sortir par le christianisme de la barbarie, et tendait au delà de la Meuse à notre Robert le Pieux une main amie qui eût voulu sceller, pour le bonheur des siècles à venir, une alliance éternelle entre l’Empire et la fille aînée de la sainte Église.

Époux vierge de la vierge Cunégonde, Henri fut grand aussi pour Dieu qui n’eut jamais de plus fidèle lieutenant sur la terre. Dieu dans son Christ était à ses yeux l’unique Roi, l’intérêt du Christ et de l’Église la seule inspiration de son gouvernement, le service de l’Homme-Dieu dans ce qu’il a de plus parfait sa suprême ambition. Il comprenait que la vraie noblesse, aussi bien que le salut du monde, se cachait dans ces cloîtres où les âmes d’élite accouraient pour éviter l’universelle ignominie et conjurer tant de ruines. C’était la pensée qui, au lendemain de son couronnement impérial, l’amenait à Cluny, et lui faisait remettre à la garde de l’insigne abbaye le globe d’or, image du monde dont la défense venait de lui être confiée comme soldat du vicaire de Dieu ; c’était l’ambition qui le jetait aux genoux de l’Abbé de Saint-Vannes de Verdun, implorant la grâce d’être admis au nombre de ses moines, et faisait qu’il ne revenait qu’en gémissant et contraint par l’obéissance au fardeau de l’Empire.

Par moi règnent les rois, par moi les princes exercent l’empire [5]. Cette parole descendue des cieux, vous l’avez comprise, ô Henri ! En des temps pleins de crimes, vous avez su où étaient pour vous le conseil et la force [6]. Comme Salomon vous ne vouliez que la Sagesse, et comme lui vous avez expérimenté qu’avec elle se trouvaient aussi les richesses et la gloire et la magnificence [7] ; mais plus heureux que le fils de David, vous ne vous êtes point laissé détourner de la Sagesse vivante par ces dons inférieurs qui, dans sa divine pensée, étaient plus l’épreuve de votre amour que le témoignage de celui qu’elle-même vous portait. L’épreuve, ô Henri, a été convaincante : c’est jusqu’au bout que vous avez marché dans les voies bonnes, n’excluant dans votre âme loyale aucune des conséquences de l’enseignement divin ; peu content de choisir comme tant d’autres des meilleurs les pentes plus adoucies du chemin qui mène au ciel, c’est par le milieu des sentiers de la justice [8] que, suivant de plus près l’adorable Sagesse, vous avez fourni la carrière en compagnie des parfaits.

Qui donc pourrait trouver mauvais ce qu’approuve Dieu, ce que conseille le Christ, ce que l’Église a canonisé en vous et dans votre noble épouse ? La condition des royautés de la terre n’est pas lamentable à ce point que l’appel de l’Homme-Dieu ne puisse parvenir à leurs trônes ; l’égalité chrétienne veut que les princes ne soient pas moins libres que leurs sujets de porter leur ambition au delà de ce monde. Une fois de plus, au reste, les faits ont montré dans votre personne, que pour le monde même la science des saints est la vraie prudence [9]. En revendiquant votre droit d’aspirer aux premières places dans la maison du Père qui est aux cieux, droit fondé pour tous les enfants de ce Père souverain sur la commune noblesse qui leur vient du baptême, vous avez brillé comme un phare éclatant sous le ciel le plus sombre qui eût encore pesé sur l’Église, vous avez relevé les âmes que le sel de la terre, affadi, foulé aux pieds, ne préservait plus de la corruption [10]. Ce n’était pas à vous sans doute qu’il appartenait de réformer directement le sanctuaire ; mais, premier serviteur de la Mère commune, vous saviez faire respecter intrépidement ses anciennes lois, ses décrets nouveaux toujours dignes de l’Époux, toujours saints comme l’Esprit qui les dicte à tous les âges : en attendant la lutte formidable que l’Épouse allait engager bientôt, votre règne interrompit la prescription odieuse que déjà Satan invoquait contre elle.

En cherchant premièrement pour vous le royaume de Dieu et sa justice [11], vous étiez loin également de frustrer votre patrie d’origine et le pays qui vous avait appelé à sa tête. C’est bien à vous entre tous que l’Allemagne doit l’affermissement chez elle de cet Empire qui fut sa gloire parmi les peuples, jusqu’à ce qu’il tombât dans nos temps pour ne plus se relever nulle part. Vos œuvres saintes eurent assez de poids dans la balance des divines justices pour l’emporter, lorsque depuis longtemps déjà vous aviez quitté la terre, sur les crimes d’un Henri IV et d’un Frédéric II, bien faits pour compromettre à tout jamais l’avenir de la Germanie. Du trône que vous occupez dans les cieux, jetez un regard de commisération sur ce vaste domaine du Saint-Empire, qui vous dut de si beaux accroissements, et que l’hérésie a désagrégé pour toujours ; confondez les constructeurs nouveaux venus d’au delà de l’Oder, que l’Allemagne des beaux temps ne connut pas, et qui voudraient sans le ciment de l’antique foi relever à leur profit les grandeurs du passé ; préservez d’un affaissement plus douloureux encore que celui dont nous sommes les témoins attristés, les nobles parties de l’ancien édifice restées à grand-peine debout parmi les ruines. Revenez, ô empereur des grands âges, combattre pour l’Église ; ralliez les débris de la chrétienté sur le terrain traditionnel des intérêts communs à toute nation catholique : et cette alliance, que votre haute politique avait autrefois conclue, rendra au monde la sécurité, la paix, la prospérité que ne lui donnera point l’instable équilibre avec lequel il reste à la merci de tous les coups de la force.



Bhx cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum

Un empereur du Saint-Empire romain-germanique, qui monte au sommet de la perfection chrétienne et de la sainteté, ce n’est pas un fait commun ; aussi la fête de ce jour appelle-t-elle toute notre pieuse attention sur les fastes glorieux de saint Henri.

Il semble en effet que les vertus, les béatitudes du sermon sur la montagne, rencontrent une difficulté spéciale quand on les doit pratiquer sur un trône glorieux, au milieu du faste des richesses, de la puissance, des triomphes, et non dans une situation humble et pénible.

L’Écriture elle-même traite d’extraordinaire le cas d’un riche qui n’a pas couru après l’or [12], et la liturgie, dans les rares occasions où elle a dû célébrer les louanges des saints rois, n’a pas manqué de faire remarquer combien est plus ardue et plus glorieuse la victoire remportée par eux contre les vaines séductions de la puissance mondaine.

Il sembla qu’au XIe siècle Henri II ressemblait à Constantin. A plusieurs reprises il descendit en Italie pour défendre contre les factions le Pontife légitime. Par amour pour l’Église romaine, il prit les armes contre les Grecs qui avaient occupé le sud de l’Italie. Il employa ses trésors à fonder des sièges épiscopaux, à enrichir des églises, à doter des monastères ; bien plus : il envoya un jour à l’abbaye de Cluny, pour qu’ils fussent offerts au Sauveur, ses insignes impériaux eux-mêmes. Saint Henri mourut le 13 juillet 1024 et fut canonisé par le bienheureux Eugène III en 1145. Voici son épitaphe primitive :

HENRIC • AVGVSTVS • VIRTVTVM • GERMINE • IVSTVS

HÆC • SERVAT • CVIVS • VISCERA • PVTRIS • HVMVS

SPLENDOR • ERAT • LEGVM • SPECVLVM • LVX • GEMMAQVE • REGVM

AD • CÆLOS • ABIIT • NON • MORIENS • OBIIT

IDIBVS • IN • TERRIS • VEXANTEM • PONDERA • CARNIS

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Cette urne conserve la dépouille mortelle et corrompue

de l’empereur Henri, juste et auteur d’œuvres vertueuses.

Il était la splendeur du droit, le miroir, la lumière, la perle des monarques.

Il est parti pour le ciel et il est mort pour ne plus mourir.

Il s’est envolé à l’empire céleste aux ides de juillet,

ainsi libéré du poids de la chair.

La messe est du commun. La première collecte est la suivante : « Seigneur qui, en ce jour, avez voulu élever du faîte de l’empire terrestre au royaume céleste le bienheureux Henri ; nous vous demandons que, comme votre grâce le prévint afin qu’il méprisât les attraits du siècle, vous nous accordiez à nous aussi de l’imiter en foulant aux pieds les séductions du monde, pour que nous arrivions ensuite à vous avec le cœur purifié de toute souillure ».

Dom Pius Parsch, Le guide dans l’année liturgique

Un empereur allemand au nombre des saints !

Saint Henri. — Jour de mort : 13 juillet 1024. Tombeau : à la cathédrale Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul, à Bamberg. Image : on le représente en empereur, avec un lis et une église. Vie : Henri et Cunégonde ; deux saints époux sur le trône impérial d’Allemagne ! Henri II (1002-1024) unissait en lui, comme souverain, la sublimité et la douceur de l’esprit de sacrifice à la plus forte personnalité. Voici ce que la prière des Heures nous raconte de lui : Il n’entreprenait rien sans avoir d’abord prié. Plus d’une fois avant le combat il vit son ange gardien et de saints martyrs protecteurs combattre pour lui et veiller sur sa vie. Il lutta contre les barbares plus par la prière que par les armes. Il conquit à la foi chrétienne la Hongrie encore païenne en donnant sa sœur comme épouse au roi Étienne, à la condition qu’il se fît baptiser. Il consacra ses biens à la fondation d’églises et de monastères ; il envoya un jour ses bijoux royaux à l’abbaye de Cluny pour les offrir au Seigneur. Même après son mariage, il garda avec une rare constance la virginité et, à l’approche de la mort, il rendit intacte à ses parents son épouse Cunégonde. Le saint s’est acquis un souvenir durable dans la liturgie romaine, car c’est à sa demande que le Credo fut introduit dans la messe.

Pratique : « Seigneur, qui lui as permis par l’abondance de ta grâce de triompher des attraits du monde, accorde-nous aussi d’éviter, à son exemple, les séductions de ce monde et de parvenir à toi avec un cœur pur » (oraison). Pratiquons la pureté conforme à notre état. Au fond, les soins que nous prodigue la sainte liturgie ne tendent pas à autre chose qu’à la pureté de vie. — La messe (Os justi) est celle du commun des confesseurs.

[1] I Cor. XII, 11.
[2] Eph. III, 10 ; I Petr. IV, 10.
[3] Le Temps après la Pentecôte, t. III, Sainte Clotilde.
[4] Psalm. XXI, 28.
[5] Prov. VIII, 15-16.
[6] Ibid. 14.
[7] Ibid. 18.
[8] Ibid. 20.
[9] Prov. IX, 10.
[10] Matth. V, 13-16.
[11] Ibid. VI, 33.
[12] Eccli., XXXI, 8.


HENRI II LE SAINT (973-1024) empereur germanique (1002-1024)
Duc de Bavière, Henri II est élu empereur à la mort de son cousin Othon III, dépourvu d'héritier direct. Mais son avènement est précédé d'une longue lutte de succession et suivi d'un conflit avec les comtes de Luxembourg et la noblesse du royaume de Bourgogne, qui refuse de le reconnaître comme son suzerain. Prince actif et doué, il a maintenu l'unité dans la tradition ottonienne, dont il est le dernier descendant indirect. Il consacre ses efforts à l'achèvement de la constitution de l'Église ottonienne dont il met les biens au service de l'Empire. Il s'appuie sur l'Église qu'il dote richement, nomme des hommes de confiance aux sièges épiscopaux, impose une réforme monastique, multiplie les synodes impériaux et entreprend une grande réforme, en accord avec le pape, à la veille de sa mort. En 1007, Henri II fonde l'évêché de Bamberg, doté de vastes seigneuries, qui va contribuer à sa légende. Reprenant les ambitions italiennes de ses prédécesseurs, il organise trois expéditions en Italie, où il rétablit l'autorité impériale. Il se fait couronner roi d'Italie à Pavie en 1004 et empereur à Rome en 1014. Mais, moins heureux avec le duc de Pologne, Boleslas Ier, qu'il combat pendant douze ans avec le concours de tribus slaves païennes, il doit accepter l'indépendance de fait de la Pologne et lui consentir la Lusace en fief. Sa générosité à l'égard de l'Église lui a valu de recevoir le surnom de saint et d'être canonisé en 1146.
Bernard VOGLER, « HENRI II LE SAINT (973-1024) - empereur germanique (1002-1024)  », Encyclopædia Universalis [en ligne], consulté le 13 juillet 2017. URL : http://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/henri-ii-le-saint/
SOURCE : http://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/henri-ii-le-saint/

St. Henry
St. Henry, son of Henry, Duke of Bavaria, and of Gisella, daughter of Conrad, King of Burgundy, was born in 972. He received an excellent education under the care of St. Wolfgang, Bishop of Ratisbon. In 995, St. Henry succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria, and in 1002, upon the death of his cousin, Otho III, he was elected emperor.
Firmly anchored upon the great eternal truths, which the practice of meditation kept alive in his heart, he was not elated by this dignity and sought in all things, the greater glory of God. He was most watchful over the welfare of the Church and exerted his zeal for the maintenance of ecclesiastical discipline through the instrumentality of the Bishops. He gained several victories over his enemies, both at home and abroad, but he used these with great moderation and clemency.

In 1014, he went to Rome and received the imperial crown at the hands of Pope Benedict VIII. On that occasion he confirmed the donation, made by his predecessors to the Pope, of the sovereignty of Rome and the exarchate of Ravenna. Circumstances several times drove the holy Emperor into war, from which he always came forth victorious. He led an army to the south of Italy against the Saracens and their allies, the Greeks, and drove them from the country.

The humility and spirit of justice of the Saint were equal to his zeal for religion. He cast himself at the feet of Herebert, Bishop of Cologne, and begged his pardon for having treated him with coldness, on account of a misunderstanding. He wished to abdicate and retire into a monastery, but yielded to the advice of the Abbot of Verdun, and retained his dignity. Both he and his wife, St. Cunegundes, lived in perpetual chastity, to which they had bound themselves by vow.

The Saint made numerous pious foundations, gave liberally to pious institutions and built the Cathedral of Bamberg. His holy death occurred at the castle of Grone, near Halberstad, in 1024. His feast day is July 13th. He is the patron saint of the childless, of Dukes, of the handicapped and those rejected by Religious Order.

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/saint-henry/


Saint Henry II

Also known as
  • Good King Henry
  • Heinrich, Duke of Bavaria
Profile

Son of Gisella of Burgundy and Henry II the Quarrelsome, Duke of Bavaria. Educated at the cathedral school in Hildesheim by bishop Wolfgang of Regensburg. Became Duke of Bavaria himself in 995 upon his father‘s death, which ended Henry’s thoughts of becoming a priest. Ascended to the throne of Germany in 1002. Crowned King of Pavia, Italy on 15 May 1004. Married Saint Cunegunda, but was never a father. Some sources claim the two lived celibately, but there is no evidence either way.

Henry’s brother rebelled against his power, and Henry was forced to defeat him on the battlefield, but later forgave him, and the two reconciled. Henry was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1014 by Pope Benedict VIII; he was the last of the Saxon dynasty of emperors. Founded schools, quelled rebellions, protected the frontiers, worked to establish a stable peace in Europe, and to reform the Church while respecting its independence. Fostered missions, and established Bamberg, Germany as a center for missions to Slavic countries. Started the construction of the cathedral at Basel, Switzerland; it took nearly 400 years to complete. Both Henry and Saint Cunegunda were prayerful people, and generous to the poor.

At one point he was cured of an unnamed illness by the touch of Saint Benedict of Nursia at Monte Cassino. He became somewhat lame in his later years. Widower. Following Cunegunda‘s death, he considered becoming a monk, but the abbot of Saint-Vanne at Verdun, France refused his application, and told him to keep his place in the world where he could do much good for people and the advancement of God‘s kingdom.

Born


St. Henry II

German King and Holy Roman Emperor, son of Duke Henry II (the Quarrelsome) and of the Burgundian Princess Gisela; b. 972; d. in his palace of Grona, at Gottingen, 13 July, 1024.
Like his predecessor, Otto III, he had the literary education of his time. In his youth he had been destined for the priesthood. Therefore he became acquainted with ecclesiastical interests at an early age.

Willingly he performed pious practices, gladly also he strengthened the Church of Germany, without, however, ceasing to regard ecclesiastical institutions as pivots of his power, according to the views of Otto the Great. With all his learning and piety, Henry was an eminently sober man, endowed with sound, practical common sense. He went his way circumspectly, never attempting anything but the possible and, wherever it was practicable, applying the methods of amiable and reasonable good sense. This prudence, however, was combined with energy and conscientiousness. Sick and suffering from fever, he traversed the empire in order to maintain peace. At all times he used his power to adjust troubles. The masses especially he wished to help.

The Church, as the constitutional Church of Germany, and therefore as the advocate of German unity and of the claims of inherited succession, raised Henry to the throne. The new king straightway resumed the policy of Otto I both in domestic and in foreign affairs. This policy first appeared in his treatment of the Eastern Marches. The encroachments of Duke Boleslaw, who had founded a great kingdom, impelled him to intervene. But his success was not marked.

In Italy the local and national opposition to the universalism of the German king had found a champion in Arduin of Ivrea. The latter assumed the Lombard crown in 1002. In 1004 Henry crossed the Alps. Arduin yielded to his superior power. The Archbishop of Milan now crowned him King of Italy. This rapid success was largely due to the fact that a large part of the Italian episcopate upheld the idea of the Roman Empire and that of the unity of Church and State.

On his second expedition to Rome, occasioned by the dispute between the Counts of Tuscany and the Crescentians over the nomination to the papal throne, he was crowned emperor on 14 February, 1014. But it was not until later, on his third expedition to Rome, that he was able to restore the prestige of the empire completely.

Before this happened, however, he was obliged to intervene in the west. Disturbances were especially prevalent throughout the entire northwest. Lorraine caused great trouble. The Counts of Lutzelburg (Luxemburg), brothers-in-law of the king, were the heart and soul of the disaffection in that country. Of these men, Adalbero had made himself Bishop of Trier by uncanonical methods (1003); but he was not recognized any more than his brother Theodoric, who had had himself elected Bishop of Metz.

True to his duty, the king could not be induced to abet any selfish family policy at the expense of the empire. Even though Henry, on the whole, was able to hold his own against these Counts of Lutzelburg, still the royal authority suffered greatly by loss of prestige in the northwest.

Burgundy afforded compensation for this. The lord of that country was Rudolph, who, to protect himself against his vassals, joined the party of Henry II, the son of his sister, Gisela, and to Henry the childless duke bequeathed his duchy, despite the opposition of the nobles (1006). Henry had to undertake several campaigns before he was able to enforce his claims. He did not achieve any tangible result, he only bequeathed the theoretical claims on Burgundy to his successors.

Better fortune awaited the king in the central and eastern parts of the empire. It is true that he had a quarrel with the Conradinians over Carinthia and Swabia: but Henry proved victorious because his kingdom rested on the solid foundation of intimate alliance with the Church.

That his attitude towards the Church was dictated in part by practical reasons, primarily he promoted the institutions of the Church chiefly in order to make them more useful supports his royal power, is clearly shown by his policy. How boldly Henry posed as the real ruler of the Church appears particularly in the establishment of the See of Bamberg, which was entirely his own scheme.

He carried out this measure, in 1007, in spite of the energetic opposition of the Bishop of Wurzburg against this change in the organization of the Church. The primary purpose of the new bishopric was the germanization of the regions on the Upper Main and the Regnitz, where the Wends had fixed their homes. As a large part of the environs of Bamberg belonged to the king, he was able to furnish rich endowments for the new bishopric. The importance of Bamberg lay principally in the field of culture, which it promoted chiefly by its prosperous schools. Henry, therefore, relied on the aid of the Church against the lay powers, which had become quite formidable. But he made no concessions to the Church.

Though naturally pious, and though well acquainted with ecclesiastical culture, he was at bottom a stranger to her spirit. He disposed of bishoprics autocratically. Under his rule the bishops, from whom he demanded unqualified obedience, seemed to be nothing but officials of the empire. He demanded the same obedience from the abbots. However, this political dependency did not injure the internal life of the German Church under Henry. By means of its economic and educational resources the Church had a blessed influence in this epoch.

But it was precisely this civilizing power of the German Church that aroused the suspicions of the reform party. This was significant, because Henry was more and more won over to the ideas of this party. At a synod at Goslar he confirmed decrees that tended to realize the demands made by the reform party. Ultimately this tendency could not fail to subvert the Othonian system, moreover could not fail to awaken the opposition of the Church of Germany as it was constituted.

This hostility on the part of the German Church came to a head in the emperor's dispute with Archbishop Aribo of Mainz. Aribo was an opponent of the reform movement of the monks of Cluny. The Hammerstein marriage imbroglio afforded the opportunity he desired to offer a bold front against Rome. Otto von Hammerstein had been excommunicated by Aribo on account of his marriage with Irmengard, and the latter had successfully appealed to Rome.

This called forth the opposition of the Synod of Seligenstadt, in 1023, which forbade an appeal to Rome without the consent of the bishop. This step meant open rebellion against the idea of church unity, and its ultimate result would have been the founding of a German national Church. In this dispute the emperor was entirely on the side of the reform party. He even wanted to institute international proceedings against the unruly archbishop by means of treaties with the French king. But his death prevented this.

Before this Henry had made his third journey to Rome in 1021. He came at the request of the loyal Italian bishops, who had warned him at Strasburg of the dangerous aspect of the Italian situation, and also of the pope, who sought him out at Bamberg in 1020. Thus the imperial power, which had already begun to withdraw from Italy, was summoned back thither. This time the object was to put an end to the supremacy of the Greeks in Italy. His success was not complete; he succeeded, however, in restoring the prestige of the empire in northern and central Italy.

Henry was far too reasonable a man to think seriously of readopting the imperialist plans of his predecessors. He was satisfied to have ensured the dominant position of the empire in Italy within reasonable bounds. Henry's power was in fact controlling, and this was in no small degree due to the fact that he was primarily engaged in solidifying the national foundations of his authority.

The later ecclesiastical legends have ascribed ascetic traits to this ruler, some of which certainly cannot withstand serious criticism. For instance, the highly varied theme of his virgin marriage to Cunegond has certainly no basis in fact.


The Church canonized this emperor in 1146, and his wife Cunegond in 1200.


Kampers, Franz. "St. Henry II." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 15 Jul. 2015<http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07227a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by HCC.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07227a.htm



July 15


St. Henry II., Emperor

From his authentic life, published by Surius and D’Andilly, and from the historians Sigebert, Glaber, Dithmar, Lambert of Aschaffenburg, Leo Urbevetanus in his double chronicle of the popes and emperors, in Deliciæ Eruditor, t. 1, and 2. Aventin’s Annals of Bavaria, &c.

A.D. 1024.

ST. HENRY, surnamed the Pious and the Lame, was son of Henry, duke of Bavaria, and of Gisella, daughter of Conrad, king of Burgundy, and was born in 972. He was descended from Henry, duke of Bavaria, son of the emperor Henry the Fowler, and brother of Otho the Great, consequently our saint was near akin to the three first emperors who bore the name of Otho. St. Wolfgang, the bishop of Ratisbon, being a prelate the most eminent in all Germany for learning, piety, and zeal, our young prince was put under his tuition, and by his excellent instructions and example he made from his infancy wonderful progress in learning and in the most perfect practice of Christian virtue. The death of his dear master and spiritual guide, which happened in 994, was to him a most sensible affliction. In the following year he succeeded his father in the dutchy of Bavaria, and in 1002, upon the death of his cousin Otho III., he was chosen emperor. 1 He was the same year crowned king of Germany at Mentz, by the archbishop of that city. He had always before his eyes the extreme dangers to which they are exposed who move on the precipice of power, and that all human things are like edifices of sand, which every breath of time threatens to overturn or deface; he studied the extent and importance of the obligations which attended his dignity; and by the assiduous practice of humiliations, prayer, and pious meditation, he maintained in his heart the necessary spirit of humility and holy fear, and was enabled to bear the tide of prosperity and honour with a constant evenness of temper. Sensible of the end for which alone he was exalted by God to the highest temporal dignity, he exerted his most strenuous endeavours to promote in all things the divine honour, the exaltation of the church, and the peace and happiness of his people

Soon after his accession to the throne he resigned the dukedom of Bavaria, which he bestowed on his brother-in-law Henry, surnamed Senior. He procured a national council of the bishops of all his dominions, which was assembled at Dortmund, in Westphalia, in 1005, in order to regulate many points of discipline, and to enforce a strict observance of the holy canons. It was owing to his zeal that many provincial synods were also held for the same purpose in several parts of the empire. He was himself present at that of Frankfort in 1006, and at another of Bamberg in 1011. The protection he owed his subjects engaged him sometimes in wars, in all which he was successful. By his prudence, courage, and clemency he stifled a rebellion at home in the beginning of his reign, and without striking a stroke compelled the malecontents to lay down their arms at his feet, which when they had done he received them into favour. Two years after he quelled another rebellion in Italy, when Ardovinus or Hardwic, a Lombard lord, had caused himself to be crowned king at Milan. This nobleman, after his defeat, made his submission, and obtained his pardon. When he had afterwards revolted a second time, the emperor marched again into Italy, vanquished him in battle, and deprived him of his territories, but did not take away his life, and Ardovinus became a monk. After this second victory, St. Henry went in triumph to Rome, where, in 1014, he was crowned emperor with great solemnity by Pope Benedict VIII. On that occasion, to give a proof of his devotion to the holy see, he confirmed to it, by an ample diploma, the donation made by several former emperors, of the sovereignty of Rome and the exarchate of Ravenna: 2 and after a short stay at Rome, took leave of the pope, and in his return to Germany kept the Easter holydays at Pavia; then he visited the monastery of Cluni, on which he bestowed the imperial globe of gold which the pope had given him, and a gold crown enriched with precious stones. He paid his devotions in other monasteries on the road, leaving in every one of them some rich monument of his piety and liberality. But the most acceptable offering which he made to God was the fervour and purity of affection with which he renewed the consecration of his soul to God in all places where he came, especially at the foot of the altars. Travelling through Liege and Triers, he arrived at Bamberg, in which city he had lately founded a rich episcopal see, and had built a most stately cathedral in honour of St. Peter, which Pope John XVIII. took a journey into Germany to consecrate in 1019. The emperor obtained of this pope, by an honourable embassy, the confirmation of this and all his other pious foundations; for he built and endowed other churches with the two monasteries at Bamberg, and made the like foundations in several other places; thus extending his zealous views to promote the divine honour and the relief of the poor to the end of time. Bruno, bishop of Ausburg, the emperor’s brother, Henry, duke of Bavaria, and other relations of the saint complained loudly that he employed his patrimony on such religious foundations, and the duke of Bavaria and some others took up arms against him in 1010; but he defeated them in the field; then pardoned the princes engaged in the revolt, and restored to them Bavaria and their other territories which he had seized.

The idolatrous inhabitants of Poland and Sclavonia had some time before laid waste the diocess of Meersburg, and destroyed that and several other churches. St. Henry marched against those barbarous nations, and having put his army under the protection of the holy martyrs St. Laurence, St. George, and St. Adrian, who are said to have been seen in the battle fighting before him, he defeated the infidels. He had made a vow to re-establish the see of Meersburg in case he obtained the victory, and he caused all his army to communicate the day before the battle, which was fought near that city. The barbarians were seized with a panic fear in the beginning of the action, and submitted at discretion. The princes of Bohemia rebelled, but were easily brought back to their duty. The victorious emperor munificently repaired and restored the episcopal sees of Hildesheim, Magdeburg, Strasburg, Misnia, and Meersburg, and made all Poland, Bohemia, and Moravia tributary to the empire. He procured holy preachers to be sent to instruct the Bohemians and Polanders in the faith. Those have been mistaken who pretend that St. Henry converted St. Stephen, king of Hungary, for that prince was born of Christian parents; but our saint promoted his zealous endeavours, and had a great share in his apostolic undertakings for the conversion of his people.

The protection of Christendom, and especially of the holy see, obliged St. Henry to lead an army to the extremity of Italy, 3 where he vanquished the conquering Saracens, with their allies the Greeks, and drove them out of Italy, left a governor in the provinces which he had recovered, and suffered the Normans to enjoy the territories which they had then wrested from the infidels, but restrained them from turning their arms towards Naples or Benevento. He came back by Mount Cassino, and was honourably received at Rome; but during his stay in that city, by a painful contraction of the sinews in his thigh, became lame and continued so till his death. He passed by Cluni, and in the duchy of Luxemburg had an interview with Robert, king of France, son and successor of Hugh Capet. 4 It had been agreed that, to avoid all disputes of pre-eminence, the two princes should hold their conference in boats on the river Meuse, which, as Glaber writes, was at that time the boundary that parted their dominions; but Henry, impatient to embrace and cement a friendship with that great and virtuous king, paid the first visit to Robert in his tent, and afterwards received him in his own. A war had broke out between these two princes in 1006, and Henry gave the French a great overthrow; but being desirous only to govern his dominions in peace, he entered into negotiations which produced a lasting peace. In this interview, which was held in 1023, the conference of the two princes turned on the most important affairs of church and state, and on the best means of advancing piety, religion, and the welfare of their subjects. After the most cordial demonstrations of sincere friendship they took leave of each other, and St. Henry proceeded to Verdun and Metz. He made frequent progresses through his dominions only to promote piety, enrich all the churches, relieve the poor, make a strict inquiry into all public disorders and abuses, and prevent unjust usurpations and oppressions. He desired to have no other heir on earth but Christ in his members, and wherever he went he spread the odour of his piety, and his liberalities on the poor.

It is incredible how attentive he was to the smallest affairs amidst the multiplicity of business which attends the government of the state; nothing seemed to escape him; and whilst he was most active and vigilant in every duty which he owed to the public, he did not forget that the care of his own soul and the regulation of his interior was his first and most essential obligation. He was sensible that pride and vain-glory are the most dangerous of all vices, and that they are the most difficult to be discovered, and the last that are vanquished in the spiritual warfare; that humility is the very foundation of all true virtue, and our progress in it the measure of our advancement in Christian perfection. Therefore, the higher he was exalted in worldly honours the more did he study to humble himself, and it is said of him, that never was greater humility seen under a diadem. He loved those persons best who most freely put him in mind of his mistakes, and these he was always most ready to confess, and to make for them the most ample reparation. Through misinformations, he for some time harboured coldness towards St. Herebert, archbishop of Cologn; but discovering the innocence and sanctity of that prelate, he fell at his feet, and would not rise till he had received his absolution and pardon. He banished flatterers from his presence, calling them the greatest pests of courts; for none can put such an affront on a man’s judgment and modesty, as to praise him to his face, but the base and most wicked of interested and designing men, who make use of this artifice to insinuate themselves into the favour of a prince, to abuse his weakness and credulity, and to make him the dupe of their injustices. He who listens to them exposes himself to many misfortunes and crimes, to the danger of the most foolish pride and vain-glory, and to the ridicule and scorn of his flatterers themselves; for a vanity that can publicly hear its own praises, openly unmasks itself to its confusion. The Emperor Sigismund giving a flatterer a blow on the face, called his fulsome praise the greatest insult that had ever been offered him. St. Henry was raised by religion and humility above this abjectness of soul which reason itself teaches us to abhor and despise. By the assiduous mortification of the senses he kept his passions in subjection; for pleasure, unless we are guarded against its assaults, steals upon us by insensible degrees, smooths its passage to the heart by a gentle and insinuating address, and softens and disarms the soul of all its strength. Nor is it possible for us to triumph over unlawful sensual delights, unless we moderate and practise frequent self-denials with regard to lawful gratifications. The love of the world is a no less dangerous enemy, especially amidst honours and affluence; and created objects have this quality that they first seduce the heart, and then blind the understanding. By conversing always in heaven, St. Henry raised his affections so much above the earth as to escape this snare.

Prayer seemed the chief delight and support of his soul; especially the public office of the church. Assisting one day at this holy function at Strasburg, he so earnestly desired to remain always there to sing the divine praises among the devout canons of that church, that, finding this impossible, he founded there a new canonry for one who should always perform that sacred duty in his name. In this spirit of devotion it has been established that the kings of France are canons of Strasburg, Lyons, and some other places; as in the former place the emperors, in the latter the dukes of Burgundy, were before them. The holy sacrament of the altar and sacrifice of the mass were the object of St. Henry’s most tender devotion. The blessed Mother of God he honoured as his chief patroness, and among other exercises by which he recommended himself to her intercession, it was his custom, upon coming to any town, to spend a great part of the first night in watching and prayer in some church dedicated to God under her name, as at Rome in St. Mary Major. He had a singular devotion to the good angels and to all the saints. Though he lived in the world so as to be perfectly disengaged from it in heart and affection, it was his earnest desire entirely to renounce it long before his death, and he intended to pitch upon the abbey of St. Vanne, at Verdun, for the place of his retirement; but he was diverted from carrying this project into execution, by the advice of Richard the holy abbot of that house. 5 He had married St. Cunegonda, but lived with her in perpetual chastity, to which they had mutually bound themselves by vow. It happened that the empress was falsely accused of incontinency, and St. Henry was somewhat moved by the slander; but she cleared herself by her oath, and by the ordeal trials, walking over twelve red hot plough-shares without hurt. Her husband severely condemned himself for his credulity, and made her the most ample satisfaction. In his last illness he recommended her to her relations and friends, declaring that he left her an untouched virgin. His health decayed some years before his death, which happened at the castle of Grone, near Halberstadt, in 1024, on the 14th of July, towards the end of the fifty-second year of his life; he having reigned twenty-two years from his election, and ten years and five months from his coronation at Rome. His body was interred in the cathedral at Bamberg, with the greatest pomp, and with the unfeigned tears of all his subjects. The great number of miracles by which God was pleased to declare his glory in heaven, procured his canonization, which was performed by Eugenius III. in 1152. His festival is kept on the day following that of his death. 6

Those who by honours, dignities, riches, or talents are raised by God in the world above the level of their fellow-creatures, have a great stewardship, and a most rigorous account to give at the bar of divine justice, their very example having a most powerful influence over others. This St. Fulgentius observed, writing to Theodorus, a pious Roman senator: 7 “Though,” said he, “Christ died for all men, yet the perfect conversion of the great ones of the world brings great acquisitions to the kingdom of Christ. And they who are placed in high stations must necessarily be to very many an occasion of eternal perdition or of salvation. And as they cannot go alone, so either a high degree of glory or an extraordinary punishment will be their everlasting portion.”

Note 1. The empire of the West, which had been extinguished in Augustulus, was restored in the year 800, in the person of Charlemagne, king of France, who extended his conquests into part of Spain, almost all Italy, all Flanders and Germany, and part of Hungary. The imperial crown continued some time in the different branches of his family, sometimes in France, sometimes in Germany, and sometimes in both united under the same monarch. Lewis IV. the eighth hereditary emperor of the Franks, was a weak prince, and died in the twentieth year of his age, in 912, without leaving any issue. These emperors, in imitation of the Lombards, had created several petty sovereigns in their states, who grew very powerful. These princes declared that by the death of Lewis IV. the imperial dignity had devolved on the Germanic people; and excluding Charles the Simple, king of France, the next heir in blood of the Carlovingian race, elected Conrad I. duke of Franconia; and after him Henry I. surnamed the Fowler, duke of Saxony, who was succeeded by three Othos of the same family of Saxony. After St. Henry II. several emperors (the following Henries, and two Frederics in particular) were of the Franconian family. Rodolph I. of the house of Austria was chosen in 1273. There have been four dukes of Bavaria emperors, five of the house of Luxemburg, three of the old Bohemian royal house, &c. But in 1438, Albert II. duke of Austria and marquis of Moravia, was raised to that supreme dignity, which from that time has remained chiefly in that family. The ancient ducal house of Saxony was descended from Wittekind the Great, the last elected king of the Saxons, who afterwards sustained a long obstinate war against Pepin and Charlemagne, submitted to the latter, and being baptized by St. Lullus in 785, was created by Charlemagne, first duke of Saxony. St. Henry II. was the fifth emperor of the Saxon race, descended from Wittekind the Great. [back]

Note 2. On the authenticity of this diploma of Henry II. and also of those of Pepin, Charlemagne, and Otho I. see the Dissertation of the Abbé Cenni, entitled, Esame de Diplomi d’Ottone è S. Arrigo, printed at Rome in 1754.

  That the see of Rome was possessed of great riches, even during the rage of the first persecutions, is clear from the acts of universal charity performed by the popes, mentioned by St. Dionysius of Corinth, and after the persecutions by St. Basil and St. John Climacus. From the reign of Constantine the Great, many large possessions were bestowed on the popes for the service of the church. Cenni (Esame di Diploma di Ludovico Pio) shows in detail from St. Gregory the Great’s epistles, that the Roman see, in his time, enjoyed very large estates, with a very ample civil jurisdiction, and a power of punishing delinquents in them by deputy judges, in Sicily, Calabria, Apulia, Campania, Ravenna, Sabina, Dalmatia, Illyricum, Sardinia, Corsica, Liguria, the Alpes Cottiæ, and a small estate in Gaul. Some of these estates comprised several bishoprics, as appears from St. Gregory, l. 7, ep. 39, Indict. ii.


  The Alpes Cottiæ that belonged to the popes included Genoa and the sea-coast from that town to the Alps, the boundaries of Gaul, as Thomassin (l. 1, de Discipl. Eccl. c. 27. n. 17,) takes notice, and as Baronius (ad an. 712, p. 9,) proves from the testimony of Oldradus, bishop of Milan. And Paul the Deacon writes, that the Lombards seized the Alpes Cottiæ, which were the estate of the Roman see. “Patrimonium Alpium Cottiarum quæ quondam ad jus pertinuerant apostolicæ sedis, sed a Longobardis multo tempore fuerant ablatæ.” (Paul. Diac. l. 6, c. 43.) Father Cajetan, in his Isagoge ad Historiam Siculam, points out at length the different estates which the Roman see formerly possessed in Sicily. The popes were charged with a great share of the care of the city and civil government of Rome. St. Gregory the Great mentions that it was part of their duty to provide that the city was supplied with corn (l. 5, ep. 40, alias l. 4, ep. 31, ad Maurit.) and that he was obliged to watch against the stratagems of the enemies, and the treachery of the Roman generals and governors. (l. 5, ep. 42, alias l. 4, ep. 35.) And he appointed Constantius, a tribune, to be governor of Naples. (l. 2, ep. 11 alias ep 7.) Anastasius the Librarian testifies that the popes, Sisinnius and Gregory II. both repaired the walls of Rome, and put the city in a posture of defence.


  From these and other facts Thomassin observes that the popes had then the chief administration of the city of Rome and of the exarchate, made treaties of peace, averted wars, defended and recovered cities, and repulsed the enemies. (Thomass. de Benefic. 3, part. l. 1, c. 29, n. 6.) When the Lombards ravaged and conquered the country, the emperors continued to oppress the people with exorbitant taxes, yet being busy at home against the Saracens, refused to protect the Romans against the barbarians. Whereupon the people of Italy, in the time of Gregory II. in 715, chose themselves in many places leaders and princes, though that pope exhorted them every where to remain in their obedience and fidelity to the empire, as Anastasius the Librarian assures us: “Ne desisterent ab amore et fide Romani imperii admonebat.”


  Leo the Isaurian and his son Constantine Copronymus persecuted the Catholics; yet Zachary and Stephen II. paid them all due obedience and respect in matters relating to the civil government. Leo threatened to destroy the holy images and profane the relics of the apostles at Rome. At which news the people of Rome were not to be restrained; but having before received with honour the images of that emperor, according to custom, they, in a fit of sudden fury, pulled them down. Pope Stephen II. exhorted the emperor to forbear such sacrileges and persecutions, and at the same time gave him to understand the danger of exasperating the populace, though he did what in him lay to prevent by entreaties both the profanations threatened by the emperor, and also the revolt of the people: “Tunc projecta laureata tua conculcarunt—Aisque: Romam mittam, et imaginem S. Petri confringam.—Quòd si quospiam miseris, protestamur tibi, innocentes sumus a sanguine quem fusuri sunt.” On the sacrileges and cruelties exercised by the Iconoclasts in the East, see the Bollandists, August ix. To prevent the like at Rome, some of the Greek historians say that Pope Gregory II. withdrew himself and all Italy from the obedience of the emperor. But Theophanes and the other Greeks were in this particular certainly mistaken, as Thomassin takes notice. And Natalis Alexander says: (Diss. 1, sæc. 8,) “This most learned pope was not ignorant of the tradition of the fathers from which he never deviated; for the fathers always taught that subjects are bound to obey their princes, though infidels or heretics, in those things which belong to the rights of the commonwealth.”


The case was, that when the emperors refused to protect Italy from the barbarians, the popes, in the name of the people, who looked upon them as their fathers and guardians, and as the head of the commonwealth, sought protection from the French, as Thomassin observes, (p. 3, de Benef. l, 1, c. 29.) The continuator of Fredegarius seems to say, that Gregory III. and the Roman people created Charles Martel Patrician of Rome, by which title was meant the protection of the church and poor, as De Marca (De Concordiâ, l. 3, c. 11, n. 6,) and Pagi explain it from Paul the deacon. At least Pope Stephen II. going into France to invite Pepin into Italy, conferred on him the title of Patrician, but had not recourse to this expedient till the Eastern empire had absolutely abandoned Italy to the swords of the Lombards. Pope Zachary made a peace with Luitprand, king of the Lombards, and afterwards a truce with king Rachis for twenty years. But that prince putting on the Benedictin habit, his brother and successor Astulphus broke the treaty. Stephen II. who succeeded Zachary in 752, sent great presents to Astulphus, begging he would give peace to the exarchate; but could not be heard, as Anastasius testifies. Whereupon Stephen went to Paris, and implored the protection of king Pepin, who sent ambassadors into Lombardy, requiring that Astulphus would restore what he had taken from the church of Rome, and repair the damages he had done the Romans. Astulphus refusing to comply with these conditions, Pepin led an army into Italy, defeated the Lombards, and besieged, and took Astulphus in Pavia; but generously restored him his kingdom on condition he should live in amity with the pope. But immediately after Pepin’s departure he perfidiously took up arms, and in revenge put every thing to fire and sword in the territories of Rome. This obliged Pepin to return into Italy, and Astulphus was again beaten and made prisoner in Pavia. Pepin once more restored him his kingdom, but threatened him with death if he ever again took up arms against the pope; and he took from him the exarchate of Ravenna, of which the Lombard had made himself master, and he gave it to the holy see in 755, as Eginhard relates: “Redditam sibi Ravennam et Pentapolim, et omnem exarchatum ad Ravennam pertinentem, ad S. Petrum traditit.” Eginhard, ib. Thomassin observes very justly that Pepin could not give away dominions which belonged to the emperors of Constantinople; but that they had lost all right to them after they had suffered them to be conquered by the Lombards, without sending succours during so many years to defend and protect them. These countries therefore either by the right of conquest in a just war belonged to Pepin and Charlemagne, who bestowed them on the popes; or the people became free, and being abandoned to barbarians had a right to form themselves into a new government. See Thomassin (p. 3, de Beneficiis, l. 1, c. 29, n. 9).

  It is a principle laid down by Puffendorf, Grotius, Fontanini, and others, demonstrated by the unanimous consent of all ancients and moderns, and founded upon the law of nations, that he who conquers a country in a just war, nowise untaken for the former possessors, nor in alliance with them, is not bound to restore to them what they would not or could not protect and defend: “Illud extra controversiam est, si jus gentium respiciamus, quæ hostibus per nos erepta sunt, ea non posse vindicari ab his qui ante hostes nostros ea possederant et amiserant.” (Grotius, l. 3, de Jure belli et pacis, c. 6, 38.) The Greeks had by their sloth lost the exarchate of Ravenna. If Pepin had conquered the Goths in Italy, or the Vandals in Africa before Justinian had recovered those dominions, who will pretend that he would have been obliged to restore them to the emperors? Or, if the Britons had repulsed the Saxons after the Romans had abandoned them to their fury, might they not have declared themselves a free people? Or, had not the popes and the Roman people a right, when the Greeks refused to afford them protection, to seek it from others? They had long in vain demanded it of the emperors of Constantinople, before they had recourse to the French. Thus Anastasius testifies that Pope Stephen II. had often in vain implored the succours of Leo against Astulphus: “Ut juxta quod ei sæpius scripserat, cum exercitu ad tuendas has Italiæ partes modis omnibus adveniret.” The same Anastasius relates, that when the ambassadors of the Greek emperor demanded of Pepin the restitution of the countries he had conquered from the Lombards, that prince answered, that as he had exposed himself to the dangers of war merely for the protection of St. Peter’s see, not in favour of any other person, he never would suffer the apostolic church to be deprived of what he had bestowed on it. Pepin gave to the holy see the city of Rome and its Campagna; also the exarchate of Ravenna and Pentapolis, comprising Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Senigallia, Ancona, Gubbio, &c. He retained the office of protector and defender of the Roman church under the title of Patrician. When Desiderius, king of the Lombards, again ravaged the lands of the church of Rome, Charlemagne marched into Italy, defeated his forces, and after a long siege took Pavia, and extinguished the kingdom of the Lombards in 773, on which occasion he caused himself to be crowned king of Italy, with an iron crown, such as the Goths and Lombards in that country had used, perhaps as an emblem of strength. Charlemagne confirmed to Pope Adrian I. at Rome, the donation of his father Pepin. The emperor Charles the Bald and others ratified and extended the same. Charlemagne having been crowned emperor of the West at Rome, by Pope Leo III. in 800, Irene who was then empress of Constantinople, acknowledged him Augustus in 802; as did her successor the emperor Nicephorus III. The Greeks at the same time ratified the partition made of the Italian dominions. This point of history has been so much misrepresented by some moderns, that this note seemed necessary in order to set it in a true light. See Cenni’s Monumenta Dominationis Pontificiæ, in 4to. Romæ, 1760. Also Orsi’s Dissertation on this subject; Cenni’s Esame di Diploma. &c. and Jos. Assemani, Hist. Ital. Scriptores, t. 3, c. 5. [
back]

Note 3. In the partition of the empire between Charlemagne and Irene, empress of Constantinople, Apulia and Calabria were assigned to the Eastern empire, and the rest of Naples to Charlemagne and his successors. Long before this, in the unhappy reign of the Monothelite emperor Constans, about the year 660, the Saracens began to infest Sicily, and soon after became masters of that island, and also of Calabria and some other parts of Italy. Otho I., surnamed the Great, drove them out of Italy, and laid claim to Calabria and Apulia by right of conquest. The Greeks soon after yielded up their pretensions to those provinces by the marriage of Otho II. to Theophania, daughter of Romanus, emperor of the East, who brought him Apulia and Calabria for her dowry. Yet the treacherous Greeks joined the Saracens in those provinces, and again expelled the Germans. But in 1008, Tancred, a noble Norman, lord of Hauteville, with his twelve sons, and a gallant army of adventurers, went from Normandy into Apulia, and had great success against the Saracens and their confederates the Greeks. From this time the Normans became dukes of Calabria, and counts and dukes of Apulia. Robert Guiscard, the most valiant Norman duke of Apulia, augmented his power by the conquest of Sicily, Naples, and all the lands which lie between that city and Latium or the territory of Rome. In 1130, Roger the Norman was saluted by the pope, king of both Sicilies. [back]

Note 4. This Robert loved the church, and was a wise, courageous, and learned prince. He wrote sacred hymns, and among others that which begins, “O Constantia Martyrum;” also, as some say, the “Veni Sancte Spiritus, Et emitte cœlitus,” &c. sung in the mass for Whitsuntide. [back]

Note 5. At the entry of the cloister of St. Vanne at Verdun is hung a picture, in which the Emperor St. Henry is represented laying down his sceptre and crown, and asking the monastic habit of the holy abbot Richard. The abbot required of him a promise of obedience, then commanded him to resume the government of the empire, upon which a distich was made, in which it is said: The emperor came hither to live in obedience; and he practises this lesson by ruling. [back]

Note 6. Baronius and some others call St. Henry the first emperor of that name, because Henry I. or the Fowler, was never crowned by the Pope at Rome; without which ceremony some Italians style an emperor only king of Germany or emperor elect; though Charles V. was the last that was so crowned at Rome. St. Henry on his death-bed recommended to the princes Conrad the Salic, duke of Franconia, who was accordingly chosen emperor, was crowned at Rome in 1027, reigned with great piety and glory, and was buried in the cathedral church at Spire, which he had built near his own palace. He was succeeded by his son Henry the Black or III. [back]

Note 7. S. Fulgent, ep. 6. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.


SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/7/151.html



Sant' Enrico II Imperatore


- Memoria Facoltativa

973 - Bamberga, Germania, 13 luglio 1024

Enrico II è un esempio di rettitudine nell'arte del governare: per questo oltre che santo è patrono delle teste coronate. Nato nel 973 vicino a Bamberga, in Baviera, crebbe in un ambiente cristiano. Il fratello Bruno divenne vescovo di Augsburg (Augusta), una sorelle si fece monaca e l'altra sposò un futuro santo, il re d'Ungheria Stefano. Enrico venne educato prima dai canonici di Hildesheim e, in seguito, dal vescovo di Regensburg (Ratisbona), san Wolfgang. Si preparò così all'esercizio del potere, cosa che avvenne dapprima quando divenne Duca di Baviera, e poi nel 1014 quando " già re di Germania e d'Italia " Papa Benedetto VIII, lo incoronò a guida del Sacro Romano Impero. Tra i consiglieri ebbe Odilone, abate di Cluny, centro di riforma della Chiesa. Enrico morì nel 1024. Fu lui a sollecitare l'introduzione del Credo nella Messa domenicale. (Avvenire)

Patronato: Oblati benedettini

Etimologia: Enrico = possente in patria, dal tedesco

Emblema: Corona, Globo, Scettro

Martirologio Romano: Sant’Enrico, che imperatore dei Romani, si adoperò insieme alla moglie santa Cunegonda per rinnovare la vita della Chiesa e propagare la fede di Cristo in tutta l’Europa; mosso da zelo missionario, istituì molte sedi episcopali e fondò monasteri. A Grona vicino a Göttingen in Germania lasciò in questo giorno la vita.

L’Imperatore del Sacro Romano Impero e ultimo esponente della dinastia degli Ottoni Sant’Enrico II (973 o 978 – 1024) e sua moglie Santa Cunegonda di Lussemburgo (978 ca. – 1039) vissero in tempi «precari», ma il loro rapporto non fu precario e divenne di esempio per tutto il mondo occidentale e addirittura si adoperarono per rinnovare la vita della Chiesa e propagare la fede in Cristo in tutta l’Europa.

Votato inizialmente ad una carriera ecclesiastica, ricevette un’educazione scrupolosa presso la scuola capitolare di Hildersheim e a Ratisbona presso il santo vescovo Wolfango.
Là acquisì una profonda pietà ed una precisa conoscenza dei problemi religiosi. Enrico ebbe un fratello, Bruno, che rinunciò agli agi della vita di corte per divenire pastore di anime come vescovo di Augusta, nonché due sorelle: Brigida, che si fece monaca, e Gisella, che andò in sposa al celebre Santo Stefano d’Ungheria.

Nel 995 Enrico II succedette al padre quale duca di Baviera e nel 1002 al cugino Ottone III come re di Germania. Contro Enrico insorse il celebre Arduino d’Ivrea, che dopo tante fatiche aveva ottenuto la corona d’Italia, ma questi lo sconfisse con un’armata e poi raggiunse Roma con sua moglie Cunegonda per ricevere nel 1004 la corona d’Italia da Papa Benedetto VIII. Nel 1014 il Pontefice lo consacrò imperatore del Sacro Romano Impero.

Segnata dall’impronta del realismo e della chiaroveggenza, la politica di Enrico II fu caratterizzata dall’abbandono delle grandiose mire universaliste di Ottone III e rafforzò l’alleanza del potere imperiale con la Chiesa. Sovrano consacrato alla più alta carica religiosa, presidente dei sinodi episcopali, canonico di alcune cattedrali, accrebbe l’autorità del clero. Restaurò nel 1004 l’Arcivescovado di Merseburg e nel 1007 fondò, con i propri beni, quello di Bamberg. Fu assai sensibile ad un sano rinnovamento della vita monastica, appoggiando alcuni riformatori come Riccardo di Saint-Vanne, sostenendo l’Abbazia di Cluny e il suo Abate Odilone.

Nel 1022 presiedette, insieme a Papa Benedetto VIII, il Concilio di Pavia, a conclusione del quale vennero emanati sette canoni contro il concubinato dei sacerdoti e la difesa dell’integrità dei patrimoni ecclesiastici: questo Concilio è considerato un momento importante del processo di riforma delle Chiesa dell’XI secolo.

Durante il regno ebbe al suo fianco Cunegonda, incoronata regina nel 1002 a Paderborn. Le fonti attestano che ella svolse un ruolo politico di primo piano. Fondò il monastero femminile di Kaufungen, vicino a Kassel, nel 1021. La coppia imperiale non ebbe figli e la causa viene rimandata a due ipotesi: voto di castità dei coniugi oppure sterilità. Alla fine dell’XI secolo sorse la tradizione della castità degli sposi. I primi a descriverla furono alcuni monaci dell’abbazia di Monte Cassino, molto legati all’Imperatore, Amato e Leone d’Ostia.

Secondo altre fonti, contemporanee ai fatti storici, viene attestata la sterilità di Santa Cunegonda. Le prime conoscenze sul matrimonio imperiale poggiano su tre brevi testi. Il cronista Titmaro di Merseburg riferisce la dichiarazione fatta da Enrico II al Sinodo di Francoforte del 1007: «(…) per mia ricompensa divina, ho scelto Cristo come erede, poiché non mi resta più alcuna speranza di avere una discendenza». Il secondo testo è una lettera del Vescovo Arnoldo di Halberstat (novembre 1007) ad un suo confratello di Würzburg: «(…) rifiutandogli una discendenza umana, farà di Dio, a Lui piacendo, il suo erede». Infine il monaco cluniacense Rodolfo il Glabro lascia scritto (prima del 1047): «Vedendo che da Cunegonda egli non poteva avere figli, non se ne separò a causa di questo, ma accordò alla Chiesa di Cristo tutto il patrimonio che avrebbe dovuto a dei figli».

Nell’alto Medioevo, una simile situazione terminava spesso con il ripudio della sposa. Come dimostra Rodolfo il Glabro, il fatto essenziale che colpì i contemporanei e fondò i termini per la reputazione di santità, fu l’inaudito rifiuto dell’Imperatore di ripudiare la moglie. La ragione di tale scelta è stata cercata nella profonda pietà cattolica dell’Imperatore, pietà che gli veniva da una tradizione ottoniana: i comportamenti matrimoniali costituirono un punto capitale delle relazioni fra gli Ottoni e la Chiesa. Infatti i suoi predecessori osservarono sempre una condotta matrimoniale esemplare: una stretta monogamia, unioni canonicamente irreprensibili, l’assenza di figli illegittimi e ripudi caratterizzarono la loro vita familiare. Emblematica una biografia commissionata dallo stesso Enrico II, la Vita della sua bisavola Santa Matilde, dove il sacramento matrimoniale primeggia: l’unione sponsale è qui celebrata come indissolubile e spiritualmente benefica per ogni coniuge. Ne emerge una coppia di sposi di stampo evangelico, modello di vita coniugale.

Enrico II non volle essere da meno della sua antenata e fu deciso nel credere e testimoniare l’indissolubilità matrimoniale, e tenne per sposa la sua Cunegonda.

Autore: Cristina Siccardi



Nella storia della Chiesa riscontriamo non poche coppie di sposi ascese alla gloria degli altari, vicende di santità coniugale sovente purtroppo poco conosciute, come quella di Cunegonda ed Enrico, quest’ultimo singolarmente festeggiato in data odierna nell’anniversario della sua morte. Le notizie sul suo conto ci provengono da due versioni della sua Vita, attribuite ad Adalberto di Utrecht ed Adalberto di Bamberga.

Nato nel 972 dal duca bavarese Enrico il Litigioso e Gisella di Borgogna, Enrico fu istruito dal vescovo di Ratisbona, San Volfango. Enrico ebbe un fratello, Bruno, che rinunciò agli agi della vita di corte per divenire pastore d’anime come vescovo di Augusta, nonché due sorelle: Brigida, che si fece monaca, e Gisella, che andò in sposa al celebre Santo Stefano d’Ungheria. Nel 995 Enrico II succedette al padre quale duca di Baviera e nel 1002 al cugino Otone III come re di Germania. Contro Enrico insorse il celebre Arduino d’Ivrea, che dopo tante fatiche aveva ottenuto la corona d’Italia, ma questi lo sconfisse con un’armata e poi raggiunse Roma con sua moglie Cunegonda per ricevere la corona imperiale da Papa Benedetto VIII, che lo pose così a guida del Sacro Romano Impero.

Enrico si mostrò in vari modi enefattore della Chiesa, restaurando le sedi di Hildeshein, Magdeburgo, Strasburgo e Meersburg. Nel 1006 fondò la diocesi di Bamberga ed in tale città fece edificare la cattedrale ed un monastero, onde rafforzare il suo potere in quella parte della Germania. In questa sua opera fu osteggiato dai vescovi di Wurzburg ed Eichstatt, che perdettero parte del territorio delle loro diocesi. Il sovrano pensò bene di ottenere al riguardo l’approvazione pontificia e lo stesso Benedetto VIII officiò nel 1020 la consacrazione della nuova cattedrale.

Il santo imperatore sostenne la riforma cluniacense, in particolare Sant’Odilone di Cluny e Riccardo di Saint-Vanne, e fu lui inoltre a sollecitare l’introduzione della recita del Credo nella Messa festiva, pur restando un potente sovrano intento ad estendere la sua influenza ed il suo potere. Alcune delle sue azioni politiche appaiono infatti equivoche, se analizzate da un punto di vista del bene del cristianesimo: rovesciò infatti la politica dei suoi predecessori nei confronti dell’Oriente cristiano e, come ebbe ad evidenziare il Dvornik, per la prima volta “il capo dell’impero del cristianesimo occidentale prende le armi contro un paese [la Polonia], il cui carattere cristiano è stato così apertametne e solennemente benedetto dal suo predecessore”.

Pur di perseguire i suoi scopi, strinse alleanze con alcune popolazioni pagane, consentendo loro di praticare le loro religioni apertamente e di portare in battaglia i loro stendardi ed i loro dei. A molti suoi contemporanei tale atteggiamento parve in assoluto contrasto con quello tradizionale dell’imperatore in dovere di convertire i pagani.
Fu perciò aspramente criticato da San Bruno di Querfurt, missionario proprio in terra pagana: “E’ giusto perseguitare una nazione cristiana e concedere amicizia ad una nazione pagana? In che modo può Cristo avere relazione con Satana? In che modo possiamo paragonare la luce al buio? Non è meglio combattere i pagani per il bene del cristianesimo, piuttosto che far torto ai cristiani per onori terreni?”.

Queste sono solo alcune delle ragioni per cui pare fu problematico, agli occhi dei suoi primi biografi, dipingere Enrico II come un santo ed a tal fine non restò che creare, forse artificiosamente edificanti leggende che lo descrissero come un governante riluttante ed un monaco sincero, intento a condurre uno stile di vita ascetico, vivendo il matrimonio in castità.
Si trattò però in gran parte di esagerazioni volte ad esaltare oltre misura la sua opera pubblica e la sua vita privata.

Enrico tornò nuovamente in Italia nel 1021, per una spedizione in Puglia contro i bizantini, ma si ammalò e sulla via del ritorno fu portato a Montecassino, ove secondo la leggenda guarì miracolosamente pregando sulla tomba di San Benedetto. Restò tuttavia storpio per il resto dei suoi giorni, fino alla morte avvenuta a Bamberga il 13 luglio 1024. Sua moglie Cunegonda si ritirò in un monastero benedettino da lei fondato ed infine fu sepolta accanto al marito nella cattedrale di Bamberga.

L’imperatore Enrico II, forse innanzitutto per il suo aperto appoggio concesso al papato, fu canonizzato nel 1152, o secondo altre fonti autorevoli nel 1146 dal papa Beato Eugenio III, ma solo nel 1200 fu raggiunto nel canone dei santi dalla moglie Cunegonda.


Da una «Vita antica» di sant'Enrico.

Questo santo servo di Dio, ricevuta l'unzione regale, non fu contento delle ristrettezze di un regno terreno, ma, per conseguire la corona della vita immortale, si propose di militare sotto le insegne del sommo Re. Servire lui è regnare! Perciò usò grandissima diligenza nel diffondere l'amore alla religione, nell'assicurare alle chiese benefici e suppellettili preziose. Stabilì nel suo stesso palazzo la sede episcopale di Bamberga sotto i titoli dei principi degli apostoli Pietro e Paolo e del glorioso martire Giorgio. Ne fece omaggio con diritti particolari alla santa Chiesa di Roma, per rendere alla prima Sede l'onore dovutole per diritto divino.
Con questo alto patronato diede solide basi alla sua fondazione.

Perché poi a tutti sia noto con quale vigilanza quest'uomo santo abbia provveduto la sua nuova chiesa dei beni della pace e della tranquillità anche per i tempi futuri, inseriamo qui, a conferma, una sua lettera: «Enrico per divina Provvidenza re, a tutti i figli della Chiesa presenti e futuri.
Siamo invitati e ammoniti dai salutari insegnamenti della Sacra Scrittura di abbandonare i beni temporali e le comodità di questa terra e cercare con ogni mezzo di conseguire le dimore eterne dei cieli. Infatti il godimento della gloria presente è transitorio e vano, a meno che non sia orientato all'eternità celeste. E la misericordia di Dio provvide al genere umano un utile rimedio quando stabilì che i beni della terra fossero il prezzo della patria celeste.

Perciò a noi, memori di questa clemenza e ben sapendo di essere stati innalzati alla dignità regale per una gratuita disposizione della misericordia di Dio, è parsa cosa buona non solo di ampliare le chiese costruite dai nostri predecessori, ma di costruirne delle nuove a maggior gloria di Dio e dotarle di benefici e favori in segno della nostra devozione. Perciò, porgendo vigile ascolto ai comandamenti del Signore e osservando i divini consigli, desideriamo mettere in serbo in cielo i tesori elargiti dalla generosa liberalità divina; in cielo dove i ladri non sfondano né rubano, né il tarlo o la tignola li consumano; in cielo dove, mentre ora ci diamo premura di raccogliervi tutte le nostre cose, anche il nostro cuore possa rivolgersi più spesso con desiderio e con amore.

Pertanto vogliamo che tutti i fedeli sappiano che noi abbiamo innalzato alla dignità di prima sede episcopale una località che si chiama Bamberga, lasciataci in eredità dal nostro padre, perché là si mantenga un solenne ricordo di noi e dei nostri genitori e si offra continuamente il sacrificio di salvezza per tutti i fedeli».


ORAZIONE

O Dio, che hai colmato dei tuoi doni Sant’Enrico
e dalla regalità terrena lo hai innalzato alla corona eterna,
assisti e proteggi i tuoi fedeli, perchè tra le vicende del mondo
corrano incontro a te nella giustizia e nella santità.
Per il nostro Signore Gesù Cristo, tuo Figlio, che è Dio,
e vive e regna con te, nell’unità dello Spirito Santo,
per tutti i secoli dei secoli. Amen.

Autore:
Fabio Arduino