mardi 16 juin 2015

Saint BENNON (BENNO) de MEISSEN, , évêque et confesseur

Saint Bennon

Évêque de Meissen ( 1106)

Célébré au diocèse de Cologne. Il était originaire de Hildesheim et évangélisa les Slaves. Luther parle de lui au moment où les reliques de saint Bennon furent apportées à Munich. Mais de sa vie, nous ne savons rien de plus.

À Meissen en Saxe, vers 1106, saint Bennon, évêque. Pour avoir voulu conserver l’unité de l’Église et la fidélité au pape saint Grégoire VII, il fut chassé de son siège et contraint à l’exil.
Martyrologe romain


Benno of Meissen B (RM)

Born at Hildesheim, Germany, in 1010; died on June 16, 1106; canonized in 1523 or 1525 by Pope Adrian VI; feast day formerly August 3. Benno, a spirited saint who died at a great age, was a noble Saxon by birth. He was educated at Saint Michael's Abbey in Hildesheim. After serving at court, he became a canon of Goslar, an important imperial chapel, and chaplain to Emperor Henry IV. The emperor also nominated him to be bishop of Meissen, Saxony. Benno is one of the protagonists in the quarrel between Pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand) and Henry IV over lay investiture. He upheld the former but not at all times with equal zeal.

Thus the history begins. During the war between Henry and the Saxons, Benno provided lukewarm support to his compatriots. In consequence of his disloyalty to the emperor, when Henry invaded Meissen, his soldiers occupied the bishopric's property until Henry was excommunicated by the pope. At that time Benno regained his liberty.

Then Benno participated in the synod of Forcheim (1078), when Rudolf was elected emperor. In 1085 Benno supported Gregory VII, but was deposed by Henry's partisans at the Diet of Mainz. After Gregory's death that year, Benno pledged allegiance to the antipope Guibert and recovered his see. In 1097, however, he once again supported the lawful pope, Urban II.

In the midst of all this strife, Benno remained a zealous diocesan bishop. He preached frequently, visited his diocese, enforced discipline, and abolished simony as much as possible. He was also an accomplished musician, who was especially devoted to the chants of his native Hildesheim. He also found the time and the energy to write exegetical works on the Gospels.

Before obeying one summons to Rome, he took the precaution of bidding two trusty canons to lock his cathedral doors in case Henry should try to occupy it and throw the keys into the Elbe. He did. When the bishop returned the keys were recovered--under the fin of an obliging fish.

In his later years he preached to the Wends. Bishop Benno was buried in his cathedral. When the cathedral was rebuilt in 1285, his relics were translated--an occasion of many cures. When Saxony became Protestant, the bishop translated Benno's relics to his castle at Stolp. From there they were moved to Munich in 1580, at which time Benno became the patron of the city.

Benno's life was written in 1512 by Jerome Emser, a doctor of canon law, author of a dialogue as to whether potation is to be tolerated in a properly constituted State, and of tracts against the more spiritual intemperances of Luther and Zwingli. Benno's canonization in 1525 roused Luther to fury. In response he composed a diatribe against his cultus, which was refuted by Jerome Emser (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer).

The following story is related about Saint Benno (His erudite frog in the story had to know his Pliny to catch the allusion.)

"It was often the habit of the man of God to go about hte fields in meditation and prayer; and once as he passed by a certain marsh, a talkative frog was croaking in its slimy waters: and lest it should disturb his contemplation, he bade it to be a Seraphian, inasmuch as all the frogs in Seraphus are mute. But when he had gone on a little way, he called to mind the saying in Daniel: 'O ye whales and all that move in the waters, bless ye the Lord. O all ye beasts and cattle, bless ye the Lord.'

"And fearing lest the singing of the frogs might perchance be more agreeable to God than his own praying, he again issued his command to them, that they should praise God in their accustomed fashion: and soon the air and the fields were vehement with their conversation" (Emser).

In art, Saint Benno is a bishop holding a fish with the keys of Meissen Cathedral in its mouth. At times the fish may be laying on a book and hold two keys (Roeder). Benno is the patron of cloth weavers, fishermen (Roeder), and Munich (Farmer).

Born to the Saxon nobility, the son of Blessed Bezela of Goda; as an adult he was heavily involved in the power politics of his day. Educated in the abbey of Saint Michael, Hildesheim, Germany. Priest. Canon at the imperial chapel at Gozlar, Hanover. Chaplain to Emperor Henry III. Bishop of Meissen in 1066. Participated in the synod of Forcheim, Germany in 1078.

He spent a year in prison for backing the nobility and Pope Saint Gregory VII against Emperor Henry IV over lay investiture and the control of the Church by the State. At one point he was summoned to Rome, Italy; he ordered the canons to lock the cathedral while he was gone in case emperor Henry tried to occupy it. Henry did, and threw the keys of the cathedral into the river as a symbol to show no one could lock the church against him. When Benno returned, he went to the river and found the key; legend says it was protected by a fish.

Following the death of Pope Gregory VII, Benno pledged his allegiance to the anti-pope Guibert, but in 1097 he returned to support of the lawful Pope Urban II.

Even with all the polical involvement and turmoil, Benno never lost sight of his calling as a diocesan bishop. He visited parishes, preached and conducted Mass, enforced discipline among his clergy, and fought simony any place he found it. He was an accomplished musician, supported music and chant in the churches and monasteries, and wrote on the Gospels. In his later years he served a missionary to the Wends.

Benno continued to be an involved and controversial figure in politics even after his death. His biographer, Jerome Emser, worked a lot of Church versus State material into the book. Martin Luther wrote a furious diatriabe against Benno’s canonization.


St. Benno of Meissen

June 16 

 Born in Hildesheim, a city in central Germany, around 1010, Benno was the second son of Count Frederick of Bultenberg. As a young man, Benno was sent off to his uncle, Bernward, to be educated. Bernward was a bishop at the nearby city of Gildesheim. After completing his education, Benno stayed on until his uncle died. Soon afterward, he joined the monastery in Hildesheim. In 1066, Benno was named Bishop of Meissen. As a leading prelate in Saxony, Benno had to walk a tightrope between helping the people of Saxony and not arousing the displeasure of Henry IV, who for the past 10 years had served both as emperor and the king of Saxony. Benno favored Saxon resistance to the taxes and forced labor imposed by Henry IV, and was arrested for his defiance. 

Upon his release from prison a year later, Benno supported Pope Gregory VII in the Pope's conflicts with King Henry IV: In keeping with long-standing feudal custom, Henry had invested a number of bishops and other Church officers in his domain. Denouncing this practice, Gregory nullified these investitures, thus setting off eight years of conflict between the two men. For his support of Pope Gregory, Benno was deposed as Bishop of Meissen in 1085. After spending several years as a missionary to the Slavs and Wends, Benno was reinstated as bishop by Guibert, the antipope who had been installed by Henry IV: The rightful Pope, Urban II, confirmed Benno's tenure in 1097. 

Benno is said to have been well liked by the Saxons for his generosity to the poor and his generosity of time with his people. Benno died in 1106 and was canonized in 1523. Today, his relics rest in Munich.

Today, June 16, we celebrate the feast of Saint Benno (1010-1106), Confessor, Bishop of Meissen, Germany, and patron saint of fishermen. Saint Benno worked throughout his long life to reform the Church, supported the legitimacy of the Pope at a time when the papacy was being politically attacked, suffered persecution and exile, and worked numerous miracles. Saint Benno remains one of the most venerated saints throughout Germany.
Benno was born to a noble family in Saxony (modern day Germany), and was educated from a young age by the monks of the abbey of Saint Michael. He was ordained a priest, and eventually, at the age of 56 became Bishop of Meissen. Soon thereafter, he was appointed Canon to the imperial chapel of Emperor Henry III, a pious ruler who looked to the Church for guidance in political matters. Upon his death, Henry IV ascended to the throne, at the young age of sixteen. Unlike his predecessor, he sought to subjugate the Church to the state, and restrict the legitimacy of the papacy throughout Germany. 
However, at that time, one of the greatest of the Church’s popes, Pope Gregory VII, sat on the Chair of Peter, and wished for nothing more than to preserve the role of the Pope in investing bishops—that is, providing bishops with the symbols of their holy office, signifying their marriage to the Church. This “Investiture Contest” spread throughout Europe, and many bishops sided with the political leaders of their regions, rather than the Pope. However, Saint Benno stood alongside Pope Gregory VII, against the Emperor, instituting the reforms of the Church and maintaining the divine duties of the Pope. For his trouble, he was imprisoned and exiled for many years. 
One of the most famous legends told of Saint Benno involves his barring the emperor from receiving the Holy Eucharist following his excommunication (the Pope had excommunicated Henry IV, due to his decisions to challenge the Church’s legitimate authority to invest bishops). Henry, however, hoped that the German bishops would take no notice of this `excommunication' and rode to Meissen—to the cathedral served by Saint Benno—to receive the Eucharist. Saint Benno realized that there was nothing he could do to keep the emperor out, save barring the cathedral to everyone. So that is what he did. He locked the cathedral doors, and threw the keys into the river Elbe. Henry knew that if he attempted to break down the doors to the cathedral, he would anger the crowds gathered, so simply rode away vowing vengeance on the holy bishop. 
After he had gone, Saint Benno ordered the local fisherman to cast their nets into the Elbe, and after praying over the water, they hauled in their nets. In the net was a fish that had the keys to the cathedral hanging upon its fins. Benno retrieved the key and reopened the cathedral. It was not soon thereafter that he was both imprisoned and exiled, although would not stray from the teachings of the Church, even under threat of punishment. 
Saint Benno lived to be a very old man, and spent the last years of his life preaching the faith to those who had not yet converted. He never lost sight of his calling as a diocesan bishop, visiting and preaching at all the parishes in his diocese, celebrating the Mass, enforcing discipline and enacting reform amongst the clergy, and building many grand cathedrals for the glory of the Lord. An accomplished musician, Saint Benno encouraged music and chanting during Masses throughout the diocese, penned many hymns, and wrote extensively on the Gospels. 
Following his death, at the age of nearly one hundred, Saint Benno was buried in the cathedral at Meissen. When the cathedral was rebuilt in 1285, his relics were translated to the new cathedral, and many miraculous cures were reported at that time. His relics were later translated to Munich in 1580, and Saint Benno remains the patron saint of that city today. 
Saint Benno lived during a difficult political time, and managed—despite threat, imprisonment, and punishment—to remain true to the teachings of the Church, and his role as priest and bishop. At a time when the Church is criticized and attacked from both the inside and outside, we look to saints like Saint Benno as inspiration. His witness provides example to each of us, inspiring fidelity and truth, even when these are the “hard decisions” to make.

San Bennone (Benno) di Meissen Vescovo

Sassonia XI secolo – Meissen, 16 giugno 1107

Benno (o Bennone), vescovo di Meissen, in Sassonia, quando nel 1085 fu deposto dall'imperatore Enrico IV (per aver difeso Papa Gregorio VII) gettò le chiavi del duomo nel fiume Elba. Tornando, anni dopo, le recuperò dal ventre di un pesce. Spesso perciò viene raffigurato mentre accade questo miracolo. Ed è per questo patrono dei pescatori. Lo è anche della diocesi di Dresda-Meissen e di Monaco di Baviera. Qui viene festeggiato con grande solennità e anche folklore (un tempo c'era una birra che portava il suo nome). Morì nel 1106 dopo 40 anni di episcopato. Fu canonizzato nel 1523 da Adriano VI. E la solenne esumazione delle spoglie, avvenuta l'anno dopo, diede occasione a Lutero per scrivere un violento pamphlet contro il culto dei santi. Divenuta la Sassonia protestante, la tomba di Benno venne distrutta. Ma le reliquie erano già state portate a Monaco, nella Frauenkirche, dove sono tuttora. (Avvenire)

Martirologio Romano: A Meissen nella Sassonia in Germania, san Benno, vescovo, che per aver voluto conservare l’unità della Chiesa e la fedeltà al Romano Pontefice fu scacciato dalla sua sede e mandato in esilio.

S. Bennone o Benno, nacque da una nobile famiglia della Sassonia in un anno imprecisato del sec. XI; nel 1062 era cappellano a Goslar e nel 1066 venne nominato vescovo di Meissen dall’imperatore Enrico IV, come era consuetudine allora, venendo poi consacrato dall’arcivescovo di Magdeburgo Werner.

Durante la guerra fra i Sassoni e l’imperatore, Bennone si schierò con i suoi compatrioti, pur senza prendere parte attiva negli scontri; finite le ostilità poté riappacificarsi col sovrano. 

Ma questo non impedì, che il territorio di Meissen fosse invaso dai soldati, i quali lasciati liberi di farlo, da Enrico IV, saccheggiarono le proprietà vescovili e imprigionarono lo stesso vescovo.

Riottenne la libertà quando nel 1076, Enrico IV fu scomunicato; partecipò agli eventi successivi che portarono sul trono Rodolfo di Svevia; nel 1085 insieme al suo metropolita, sostenne papa Gregorio VII (1073-1085) nella sua lotta con l’Impero di Germania, per l’investitura dei vescovi, ma i fautori di Enrico IV nella Dieta di Magonza, lo fecero deporre e lo sostituirono sulla cattedra episcopale di Meissen da un certo Felice.

Dopo la morte di Gregorio VII nel 1085, Bennone venne in Italia e fece atto di ubbidienza all’antipapa Guiberto, riottenendo così il suo vescovado, dove rimase senza altri eventi fino al 1088, gratificato dai doni dell’imperatore.

Le notizie storiche su di lui terminano nel 1097, quando egli riconobbe il legittimo papa Urbano II; morì probabilmente il 16 giugno del 1107.

Nel 1285, il suo corpo fu tolto dal sepolcro e deposto in un urna sull’altare e da allora avvennero molti miracoli per sua intercessione. È autore di molti scritti esegetici sui Vangeli.

Fu canonizzato con solennità nel 1523 da papa Adriano VI, in questa occasione Martin Lutero compose un libello contro il culto dei santi, a lui rispose Girolamo Emser, che aveva scritto e pubblicato nel 1512 la ‘Vita’ di s. Bennone.

Quando la Sassonia, passò al protestantesimo, la sua tomba e l’altare furono distrutti, ma le reliquie erano state salvate dal vescovo Giovanni VIII, che le aveva trasferite nel suo castello di Stolp, in seguito giunsero a Wurzen e poi a Monaco di Baviera e infine nel 1580 definitivamente nella cattedrale di Meissen.

Patrono della stessa città e della Baviera, è ricordato il 16 giugno. Nell’iconografia è rappresentato in abiti episcopali mentre estrae dal ventre di un grosso pesce, che gli viene portato da un pescatore, le chiavi della cattedrale di Meissen, che secondo una leggenda dell’epoca, sarebbero state buttate nel fiume Elba, quando Enrico IV fu scomunicato e lui era partito per Roma.

Autore: Antonio Borrelli