Saint Wolfgang de Ratisbonne
Évêque (+ 994)
Moine d'Einsiedeln, puis évêque de Ratisbonne (Regensburg) en Bavière. Il naquit dans le canton des Grisons et, dès l'âge de sept ans, il donna les signes précoces de son intelligence. Il fut élève au monastère de Reichenau, puis à l'école ecclésiastique de Wurtzbourg. Appelé auprès de l'évêque de Trèves, il refusa tous les honneurs et devint un excellent éducateur auprès de la jeunesse. De retour en Suisse à l'abbaye de Saint Meinrad, il renonça à ses biens familiaux et s'engagea dans l'Ordre de Saint Benoît. Et c'est de là qu'il fut élu évêque de Regensburg où son influence dépassa vite les limites de son diocèse au point de devenir en même temps conseiller de l'empereur et des évêques voisins.
...Après une longue vie religieuse où il fut sacré évêque de Ratisbonne, il se retira en ermite dans une forêt où selon la légende, il lança une hache en demandant à Dieu de lui indiquer où construire sa cellule. Il construisit alors son abri à l'endroit même où tomba la hache et put y finir sa vie dans le recueillement. C'est ainsi qu'il devint le Saint patron des bûcherons après avoir été canonisé en 1052... (Forum des arboristes grimpeurs)
À Ratisbonne en Bavière, l’an 994, saint Wolfgang, évêque. Après avoir exercé les fonctions de maître d’école et fait profession monastique, il fut élevé à l’épiscopat, restaura la discipline du clergé et mourut humblement en visitant le territoire de Pupping.
Michael Pacher (1435–1498). Saint Wolfgang et le diable,
vers 1475, 103 x 91, Maxvorstadt, Alte Pinakothek
Wolfgang de Ratisbonne
Wolfgang descendait de la famille des comtes de Pfullingen. À l'âge de 7 ans, il avait un précepteur ecclésiastique à la maison pour son éducation, plus tard, il rejoignit l'école du Monastère de Reichenau.
C'est là qu'a débuté la fidèle amitié qu'il noua avec Henri de Babenberg, frère de l'évêque de Wurtzbourg, qu'il suivit dans cette ville afin d'y suivre les cours du grammairien Stéphane de Novara, à l'école de la cathédrale.
Après qu'Henri ait été élu archevêque de Trèves, en 956, il appela Wolfgang afin qu'il devienne professeur à l'école épiscopale de Trèves et qu'il travaille aussi à la réforme du diocèse, ce qu'il fit, en dépit de l'hostilité rencontrée.
Son séjour à Trèves influença grandement sa vision de la vie monastique et de l'ascétisme, par le contact qu'il eut avec les grands réformateurs du Xe siècle, particulièrement Ramwold, l'inspirateur d'Adalbert de Prague.
Après la mort de l'archevêque Henri, en 964, Wolfgang entra dans l'Ordre Bénédictin à l'abbaye d'Einsiedeln en Suisse, et fut ordonné prêtre par saint Ulrich en 968.
Évangélisateur des Magyars (Hongrois)
Après leur défaite à la bataille de Lechfeld en 955, victoire attribuée à l'intercession de saint Ulrich, les Magyars, païens, s'étaient réfugiés en Pannonie, mais, tant qu'ils n'étaient pas convertis, ils demeuraient une menace pour l'empire.
À la demande d'Ulrich, qui avait clairement vu le danger, et pour satisfaire aux désirs de l'empereur Otton le Grand, Wolfgang fut envoyé pour évangéliser les Magyars, parce qu'il était la personne la plus apte à réussir cette mission.
Il fut suivi par d'autres missionnaires, envoyés par l'évêque de Nassau, sous la juridiction duquel était la région.
Il devient évêque de Ratisbonne
À la mort de l'évêque Michael de Ratisbonne, le 23 septembre 972, Wolfgang fut nommé à sa place, à Noël 972. Son œuvre fut considérable.
Il devint le tuteur de l'empereur Saint Henri II, auquel il enseigna les meilleurs principes pour gouverner chrétiennement. Il eut aussi d'importants élèves, comme le fils du Margrave Luipold, futur archevêque de Trèves.
Il travailla à réformer plusieurs abbayes, ainsi que les couvents d' Obermünster et de Niedermünsterde à Ratisbonne, luttant contre les abus du clergé et les nominations de complaisance des abbés. Il accorda aussi un soin tout particulier à la liturgie et fut enfin un grand bienfaiteur des pauvres.
Il se retire en Autriche
Vers la fin de sa vie, Wolfgang se retira dans un endroit isolé, en Autriche, dans la région du Salzkammergut. On ne sait s'il avait quitté son évêché suite à un désaccord politique, ou seulement pour une visite pastorale à l'abbaye de Mondsee (qui dépendait de l'évêché de Ratisbonne), mais il fut découvert par un chasseur, et ramené à Ratisbonne.
Tandis qu'il voyageait sur le Danube en direction de Pöchlarn, en Autriche, il tomba malade dans le village de Pupping entre Eferding et Aschach. À sa demande, il fut transporté à la chapelle saint Othmar de Pupping où il mourut.
Sa dépouille fut ramenée sur le Danube par ses amis Aribo d'Andechs et Hartwich de Salzbourg, à Ratisbonne où il fut solennellement enterré dans la crypte de l'église St. Emmeram. De nombreux miracles furent observés sur sa tombe.
Wolfgang fut canonisé en 1052 par le Pape Léon IX. Il est fêté le 31 octobre.
Saint Wolfgang (Sch.*1733a), 15th century, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of James Clark McGuire, 1930, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/337747
Saint WOLFGANG de RATISTONNE (REGENSBURG)
Fils d’une modeste famille de la Souabe, il est Baptisé puis confié aux soins d’un Prêtre qui se charge de son éducation.
Il poursuit ensuite ses études à l’Abbaye de Reichenau, où il se lie d’amitié avec Henri, le frère de l’Évêque de Wurtzbourg.
Lorsque Henri est nommé Archevêque de Trèves, il invite Wolfgang à venir le rejoindre et le nomme maître des étudiants, puis doyen des clercs.
Malheureusement, en 963, Henri tombe malade au cours d’un voyage à Rome et Wolfgang pense qu’il va enfin pouvoir réaliser son rêve de devenir Moine.
Il est pourtant à nouveau sollicité, cette fois par Saint-Bruno, l’Archevêque de Cologne, qui l’appelle auprès de lui.
Mais il n’y demeure que peu de temps, préférant entrer au Monastère d’Einsiedeln (Suisse), où il reçoit l’habit qu’il convoitait depuis si longtemps.
Après avoir été Ordonné, il est envoyé en Pannonie (actuelle Hongrie) pour évangéliser les Magyars, puis en 972 il est nommé Évêque de Ratisbonne.
Au cours de son épiscopat, il entreprend une réforme du clergé et remet de l’ordre dans la gouvernance de plusieurs Monastères.
Malgré son rang, il conserve un mode de vie d’une grande simplicité, toujours vêtu de son habit de Moine et plus préoccupé du bien-être des autres que du sien propre.
En 994, au cours d’une visite qu’il effectue à Puppingen, il tombe malade mais demande à rester couché sur le sol de l’Oratoire Saint-Othmal, accueillant tous les visiteurs qui se pressent à son chevet jusqu’à ce qu’il s’endorme paisiblement pour l’éternité (924-994).
Saint-Wolfgang est le patron des charpentiers et des personnes paralysées. Il est invoqué pour la guérison des maladies d’estomac et pour éloigner le risque d’être victime d’une crise d’apoplexie.
Wolfgang of Regensberg
The Great Almoner
Educated by Benedictines at Reichenau, Switzerland. Spiritual student of Saint Romuald. Benedictine monk at Einsiedeln abbey, Switzerland in 964. Teacher; director of the abbey school. Abbey prior in 970. Evangelized the Magyars in modern Hungary. Missionary to Pannonia. Priest. Bishop of Ratisbon (modern Regensberg, Germany) in 972. Reformed clerical discipline and spirituality in his diocese. Noted for his preaching, his teaching abilities, his charity (hence the name Great Almoner) and his care for lay people in his diocese. Tutor to the future emperor Saint Henry II.
Saints of the Day, by Katherine Rabenstein
“Saint Wolfgang of Ratisbon“. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 February 2022. Web. 29 October 2022. <https://catholicsaints.info/saint-wolfgang-of-ratisbon/>
Illuminierte Seite aus dem Waldburg-Gebetbuch, WLB Stuttgart, Cod. brev. 12, fol. 37v
Among the bishops celebrated in the tenth century of the Christian era, on account of their virtues and the miracles God wrought by them, the church justly ranks Saint Wolfgang, bishop of Ratisbon. He was a native of Suabia, and was born of noble parents. It seemed to his mother, more than once, before he was born, that she had brought forth a bright star; which, without doubt, indicated that she should give life to a son, who, by the brightness of his virtues and learning would illuminate the whole world. Wolfgang received his first lesson in the abbey of Reichenau, where he made the acquaintance of Henry, a noble youth of Wurzburg, who, when returning to his home, took Wolfgang along on account of his piety. At Wurzburg, Wolfgang made so much progress in all the higher branches of study, that he was greatly esteemed by every one. Henry was chosen some years later, bishop of Treves, and as he knew the virtue and learning of Wolfgang, he prevailed upon him to come to the same city. Wolfgang consented, on condition that Henry would not raise him to any dignity, but trust him with the education of the young; as he was greatly interested in this, knowing how much, in after life, depends on the first instructions received in childhood. Henry promised all that Wolfgang asked, and the latter applied himself zealously to teaching. He bestowed special care upon the poor, whom he not only instructed without charge but also provided with food and clothing. He endeavored to impress upon his pupils the lesson given by Tobias to his son: to have God constantly before their eyes, to fear Him, and to avoid all sin.
Besides the laborious task of instructing the young, Wolfgang also undertook much other work for the benefit of the whole diocese; as Henry employed him as his assistant in all the duties of his episcopal office. When the pious bishop was taken away by death, Wolfgang returned to his home, and, desiring to serve God, he went into the Benedictine monastery of Saint Meinrad, in Switzerland, where he led a most holy life. After his novitiate was ended, he was charged to instruct his younger brethren as well as the pupils in the monastery, in the liberal arts. Saint Ulric, bishop of Augsburg, ordained Wolfgang priest, and God inspired him, at the same time, with the earnest desire to convert the heathen to the true faith. He had heard that the Christians in Hungary had greatly suffered from the invasions of the heathen; hence he determined to go thither and preach the gospel. Having received the permission of his superiors, he began his journey with great trust in God. At Passau, he visited bishop Peregrinus, who informed him to his great joy that he had resolved to make the same journey with the same object. Hence, they travelled together. Arrived at their destination, they left nothing undone to save souls; but seeing, after a time, that they could not be as useful as they had expected, they returned to Passau.
At that time, the episcopal See of Ratisbon had become vacant, and Peregrinus. acquainted with the great virtues and other distinguished qualities of Wolfgang, proposed him to the emperor and the clergy as a worthy successor of the late bishop. Wolfgang endeavored, by all means in his power, to prevent his being burdened with this dignity; but the abbot of the monastery, to whom he had vowed obedience, commanded him to submit to the decree of the Almighty, telling him he could manifest his zeal to save souls much better, and could work much more good, when invested with the authority of bishop, than when occupying an inferior position. Hence, Frederick, Archbishop of Salzburg, consecrated Wolfgang bishop, to the great joy of the whole city.
His first care was to prepare himself worthily to administer his episcopal functions; and to this end, he prayed and mortified himself. It was observed that he frequently passed the entire night in prayer at Church. He was extremely severe towards himself, and allowed himself not even the most innocent recreation. He aspired not after temporal goods; all his thoughts, his whole mind strove only to gain heaven. He personally visited every parish in his diocese, and everywhere made such regulations as he deemed necessary to promote the honor of God and the welfare of his flock. By preaching almost daily and by incessant admonitions, he reformed the manners of the laity and clergy, being himself an example of every virtue. His revenues were not used for luxurious garments, nor to supply his table with superfluities, but to adorn the churches, as dwellings of the Most High, and to support the poor and assist the sick. He daily fed a great many poor in his own residence, and sent to the houses of others who were indigent, corn, money and clothes, without letting them know from whom the benefit came. Having heard, when he first became bishop, that one of his predecessors had withdrawn a considerable portion of the revenues of the monastery of Saint Emmeram, he voluntarily returned the same. This and many other noble actions of the holy bishop procured him the highest esteem of his flock. Every one regarded him as a saint and showed him the highest honor. The Almighty Himself made him renowned by bestowing on him the gifts of prophecy, of healing the sick, and freeing the possessed. But his fame, which thus daily grew, and the honors which were showered upon him, distressed the humble bishop to such a degree, that he secretly left the city and went into a desert not far from Salzburg, where, for five years, he lived in abject poverty, leading rather an angelic than a human life. A hunter, who was chasing a deer in those parts, found him, at the end of that time, in a cavern, and made known his retreat to the inhabitants of Ratisbon, who had searched for him everywhere in vain. They immediately sent him a deputation of the chief men, who so long entreated him with words and tears, that at last they persuaded him to return to his See. He was received with great rejoicings, and brought into the church of Saint Peter, where he was again placed upon the episcopal throne. The saint resumed the administration of his See, and continued most faithfully in it until his happy death.
Henry, at that time duke of Bavaria, would entrust the education of his sons and daughters to no one but to our holy bishop; and the result showed with how much wisdom and ability the holy man discharged so important an office. Henry, the first-born son, became a holy Emperor; Bruno, the second son, became a pious Bishop; Gisela, the eldest daughter, afterwards Queen of Hungary, was renowned for her virtue and piety, and Brigit died a most exemplary Abbess of a convent at Ratisbon. Saint Wolfgang foretold to these princes and princesses their future stations; for while they were under his care, he called the eldest prince, King or Emperor; the second, Bishop; the third, princess Gisela, Queen; and Brigit, Abbess.
Having for more than twenty years administered his See, he was taken ill at Pupping, when on his way to Upper Bavaria. He requested to be carried to the church of Saint Othmar, a Saint whom he honored as his special patron. Having received the holy Sacraments with great devotion, he admonished all around him to lead a Christian life, ordered that all he had with him should be given to the poor, raised his eyes to heaven, prayed most devoutly, and, with every manifestation of joy, in the presence of a great crowd of people, gave his soul to his Creator, in 994. His holy body was brought to Ratisbon, and at first interred in the Cathedral, but afterwards removed to the Church of Saint Emmeram, where it still rests, greatly honored by all the faithful. The many miracles which have taken place at his tomb, are fully described in several volumes.
Saint Wolfgang restores voluntarily to a monastery what had been unjustly taken from it by his predecessor. This was a praiseworthy action, and one which all those should follow, who knowingly possess anything that belongs not rightfully to them, even if they have not taken it themselves but have inherited it; for, it is certain, that we must return to the rightful owner what we have either taken unlawfully, or what we know belongs to him, though we did not take it. If this is not done, we cannot hope for forgiveness from God. If we do not return property not belonging to us, when it is in our power to do so, the penance we do is not a true but a false penance. “If we do not return what we have unjustly taken, our sin will not be forgiven,” says Saint Augustine. If the sin is not forgiven, there is no hope of salvation. How blindly, then, do they act, who, by injustice, deceit, theft, usury, or other sinful ways, appropriate to themselves the property of others, and thus seek either to enrich themselves or their children! For, firstly, they offend God by the sinful means which they use; secondly, they cannot retain, with a clean conscience, what they have wrongfully obtained, but must return it if they will save their souls. Of what use, therefore, is what they have thus obtained? Thirdly, they generally make themselves and their heirs unhappy on this earth; because what is wrongfully gained does not last, but vanishes and often even drags that which was justly obtained with it. And lastly, such men cast themselves wantonly into eternal ruin; because they do not repair the damage they have caused. They may also cause their heirs to go to destruction; and this will be the case, when the latter come to the knowledge that what they have inherited is not rightly theirs, and will not return it to those who have been wronged. Take heed that you be not of the number of such blind and foolish persons. Think of the words of Saint Ambrose: “It is better to possess no temporal goods and to gain salvation, than to possess great temporal goods and go to destruction. It is better that our temporal possessions decrease (by the return of what we possess wrongfully), than that we go, body and soul, to eternal ruin.” If you refuse to return voluntarily, and to your own benefit, what you wrongfully possess, you will be forced to do so without deriving any good from it. According to the prophecy of Job: “The riches which he has swallowed, he shall vomit up, and God shall draw them out of his belly.” (Job 20)
Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Wolfgang, Bishop of Ratisbon”. , 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 May 2018. Web. 31 October 2020. <https://catholicsaints.info/weningers-lives-of-the-saints-saint-wolfgang-bishop-of-ratisbon/>
Hl Wolfgang von Regensburg - Gemälde von Matthäus Schiestl
Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg (d. 994) + Bishop and reformer, was born in Swabia, Germany, and was educated at a school located at the abbey of Reichenau. There he encountered Henry, a young noble who went on to become Archbishop of Trier. Meanwhile, Wolfgang remained in close contact with the archbishop, teaching in his cathedral school and supporting his efforts to reform the clergy.
At the death of the archbishop, Wolfgang chose to become a Benedictine monk and moved to an abbey in Einsiedeln, now part of Switzerland. Ordained a priest, he was appointed director of the monastery school there. Later he was sent to Hungary as a missionary, though his zeal and good will yielded limited results.
Emperor Otto II appointed him Bishop of Regensburg (near Munich). He immediately initiated reform of the clergy and of religious life, preaching with vigor and effectiveness and always demonstrating special concern for the poor. He wore the habit of a monk and lived an austere life.
The draw to monastic life never left him, including the desire for a life of solitude. At one point he left his diocese so that he could devote himself to prayer, but his responsibilities as bishop called him back.
In 994 he became ill while on a journey; he died in Puppingen near Linz, Austria. His feast day is celebrated widely in much of central Europe. He was canonized in 1052.
Gemälde von de:Matthäus Schiestl (1869-1939), Portrait des Hl. Wolfgang von Regensburg, Öl/Holztafel. R. u. sign.; 39 cm x 39 cm. Rahmen.
Bishop of Ratisbon (972-994), born about 934; died at the village of Pupping in upper Austria, 31 October, 994. The name Wolfgang is of early German origin. St. Wolfgang was one of the three brilliant stars of the tenth century, St. Ulrich, St. Conrad, and St. Wolfgang, which illuminated the early medieval period of Germany with the undying splendour of their acts and services. St. Wolfgang sprang from a family of Swabian counts of Pfullingen (Mon. Germ. His.: Script., X, 53). When seven years old he had an ecclesiastic as tutor at home; later he attended the celebrated monastic school on the Reichenau. Here he formed a strong friendship with Henry, brother of Bishop Poppo of Würzburg, whom he followed to Würzburg in order to attend at the cathedral school there the lectures of the noted Italian grammarian, Stephen of Novara. After Henry was made Archbishop of Trier in 956, he called his friend to Trier, where Wolfgang became a teacher in the cathedral school, and also laboured for the reform of the archdiocese, notwithstanding the enmity with which his efforts were met. Wolfgang's residence at Trier greatly influenced his monastic and ascetic tendencies, as here he came into connection with the great reformatory monastery of the tenth century, St. Maximin of Trier, where he made the acquaintance of Ramwold, the teacher of St. Adalbert of Prague. After the death (964) of Archbishop Henry of Trier, Wolfgang entered the Order of St. Benedict in the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln, Switzerland, and was ordained priest by St. Ulrich in 968.
After their defeat in the battle of the Lechfeld (955), a victory gained with the aid of St. Ulrich, the heathen Magyars settled in ancient Pannonia. As long as they were not converted to Christianity they remained a constant menace to the empire. At the request of St. Ulrich, who clearly saw the danger, and at the desire of the Emperor Otto the Great, St. Wolfgang, according to the abbey annals, was "sent to Magyars" as the most suitable man to evangelize them. He was followed by other missionaries sent by Bishop Piligrim of Nassau, under whose jurisdiction the new missionary region came. After the death of Bishop Michael of Ratisbon (23 September, 972) Bishop Piligrim obtained from the emperor the appointment of Wolfgang as Bishop of Ratisbon (Christmas, 972). Wolfgang's services in this new position were of the highest importance, not only for the diocese, but also for the cause of civilization. As Bishop of Ratisbon, Wolfgang became the tutor of Emperor St. Henry II, who learned from him the principles which governed his saintly and energetic life. Poppe, son of Margrave Luitpold, Archbishop of Trier (1016), and Tagino, Archbishop of Magdeburg (1004-1012), also had him as their teacher.
St. Wolfgang deserves credit for his disciplinary labours in his diocese. His main work in this respect was connected with the ancient and celebrated Abbey of St. Emmeram which he reformed by granting it once more abbots of its own, thus withdrawing it from the control of the bishops of Ratisbon, who for many years had been abbots in commendam, a condition of affairs that had been far from beneficial to the abbey and monastic life. In the Benedictine monk Ramwold, whom St. Wolfgang called from St. Maximin at Trier, St. Emmeram received a capable abbot (975). The saint also reformed the convents of Obermunster and Niedermunster at Ratisbon, chiefly by giving them as an example the convent of St. Paul, Mittelmunster, at Ratisbon, which he had founded in 983. He also co-operated in the reform of the ancient and celebrated Benedictine Abbey of Altach (Nieder-altach), which had been founded by the Agilolf dynasty, and which from that time took on new life. He showed genuine episcopal generosity in the liberal manner with which he met the views of the Emperor Otto II regarding the intended reduction in size of his diocese for the benefit of the new Diocese of Prague (975), to which St. Adalbert was appointed first bishop. As prince of the empire he performed his duties towards the emperor and the empire with the utmost scrupulousness and, like St. Ulrich, was one of the mainstays of the Ottonian policies. He took part in the various imperial Diets, and, in the autumn of 978, accompanied the Emperor Otto II on his campaign to Paris, and took part in the great Diet of Verona in June, 983.
St. Wolfgang withdrew as
a hermit to
a solitary spot, now the Lake of St. Wolfgang, apparently on account of a
political dispute, but probably in the course of a journey of inspection to
the monastery of
Mendsee which was under the direction of the bishops of Ratisbon.
He was discovered by a hunter and brought back to Ratisbon.
While travelling on the Danube to Pöchlarn in Lower Austria,
he fell ill at the village of Pupping, which is between Efferding and the
market town of Aschach near Linz,
and at his request was carried into the chapel of St.
Othmar at Pupping, where he died. His body was taken up the Danube by
his friends Count Aribo of Andechs and Archbishop Hartwich of Salzburg to Ratisbon,
and was solemnly buried
in the crypt of St.
Emmeram. Many miracles were
performed at his grave; in 1052 he was canonized.
Soon after his death many churches chose
him as their patron
saint, and various towns were named after him. In Christian
art he has been especially honoured by
the great medieval Tyrolese painter,
Michael Pacher (1430-1498), who created an imperishable memorial of him,
altar of St. Wolfgang. In the panel pictures which are now exhibited
in the Old Pinakothek at Munich are
depicted in an artistic manner the chief events in the saint's life.
The oldest portrait of St. Wolfgang is a miniature, painted about
the year 1100 in the celebrated Evangeliary of St.
Emmeram, now in the library of
the castle cathedral at
Cracow. A fine modern picture by Schwind is
in the Schak Gallery at Munich.
This painting represents
the legend of Wolfgang forcing the devil to
help him to build a church. In other paintings he
is generally depicted in episcopal dress, an axe in the right hand and
the crozier in
the left, or as a hermit in
the wilderness being discovered by a hunter. The axe refers to an event in the
life of the saint.
After having selected a solitary spot in the wilderness, he prayed and
then threw his axe into the thicket; the spot on which the axe fell he regarded
as the place where God intended
he should build his cell. This axe is still shown in the little market town of
St. Wolfgang which sprang up on the spot of the old cell. At the request of the
Abbey of St.
Emmeram, the life of St. Wolfgang was written by Othlo,
a Benedictine monk of St.
Emmeram about 1050. This life is especially important for the
early medieval history
both of the Church and
of civilization in Bavaria and Austria,
and it forms the basis of all later accounts of the saint.
The oldest and best manuscript of
this "Life" is in the library of
the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln in Switzerland (manuscript No.
322), and has been printed with critical notes in "Mon. Germ. His.:
Script.", IV, 524-542. It has also been printed in, "Acta SS.",
II November, (Brussels, 1894), 529-537; "Acta SS. O. S. Ben.", V,
812-833; and in P.L., CXLVI, 395-422.
Der hl. Wolfgang, Bischof
von Regensburg, hist. Festschrift z. jahr. Gedachtnisse seines Todes, ed.,
in connection with numerous historical scholars, by MEHLER (Ratisbon, 1894),
among the chief collaborators on this work being BRAUNMULLER, RINGHOLZ (of
Einsiedeln), and DANNERBAUER; KOLBE, Die Verdienste des Bischofs Wolfgang
v. R. um das Bildungswesen Suddeutschlands. Beitrag z. Gesch. der Padogogik des
X und XI Jahrhunderis (Breslau, 1894); WATTENBACH, Deutschlands
Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter, I (Berlin, 1904), 449-452; DETZEL, Christl. Iknographie,
II (Freiburg, 1896), 683; POTTHAST, Bibl. medii aevi, II (Berlin, 1896),
Schmid, Ulrich. "St. Wolfgang." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 31 Oct. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15682b.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Thomas M. Barrett. Dedicated to Saint Wolfgang.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Copyright © 2020 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Oberstadion (Alb-Donau-Kreis), Pfarrkirche St. Martinus, Tafelbild "Hl. Wolfgang mit Stab und Beil, von Gläubigen (Stiftern) verehrt" von Jörg Stocker (1461–1527)
Wolfgang of Ratisbon, OSB B (RM)
(also known as Wolfgang of Regensburg)
Born in Swabia (Germany) c. 925; died at Puppingen near Linz (Austria) in 994; canonized 1052 by Pope Leo IX.
As a little boy, Wolfgang was taught by a friendly priest. Thereafter, he was sent to the abbey of Reichenau on Lake Constanz to continue his schooling. There he became the best friend of a young nobleman named Henry whose elder brother Poppo was bishop of Würzburg. The bishop set up a great school there, employing a brilliant Italian named Stefano of Novara to teach in it, and Henry persuaded Wolfgang to journey with him to study at the Italian's feet.
Wolfgang was incomparably the better pupil, though both young men were devout. After finishing his formal studies, Wolfgang taught at the school. When, in 956, Henry was made archbishop of Trier (Trèves), he asked Wolfgang to go there with him to teach in the cathedral school. In Trier, Wolfgang met the reforming monk, Saint Rambold, and Wolfgang joined Henry in his efforts to strengthen the faith of the see.
Henry died in the year 964. Wolfgang had stayed by his side faithfully, but now left Trier to become a Benedictine monk at Einsiedeln. The abbot, an English Benedictine named George, soon saw that he had with him a teacher of genius, and he put Wolfgang in charge of the abbey school. It became the best in the land.
In 971, Wolfgang was ordained to the priesthood by Saint Ulric, after which he engaged in a short and discouraging mission in Pannonia (Hungary). But the Emperor Otto II recognized his worth, and, upon the recommendation of Saint Rambold, named Wolfgang to fill the vacant see of Regensburg. Although Wolfgang would have preferred to retire to his monastery, he was taken to the emperor at Frankfurt and invested in the temporalities. On Christmas Day 972 he was consecrated bishop of the city over which he presided until his death.
He at once initiated a reform of the clergy and the monasteries in his diocese, including two disorderly convents. He encouraged the canons to return to a regular life. One of the sources of revenue for the see was the abbey of Saint Emmeram at Regensburg, which the bishops held in commendam, with the usual bad results. Wolfgang restored ts autonomy and made Rambold its abbot.
Saint Wolfgang earned the love of his people. He continued to preach widely and vigorously. Known for his generosity to the poor, he became known as "Eleemosynarius Major" (the "Great Almoner"). He never abandoned his monastic habits. On one occasion he attempted to leave his see in order to seek a life as a hermit but was compelled to return by popular demand. He ceded part of his see in Bohemia to set up a new diocese--Prague.
He also earned the respect of the imperial court. He accompanied the emperor on a trip to France. He was for a time tutor to the future emperor, Saint Henry II of Bavaria.
Wolfgang became ill while travelling down the Danube into Lower Austria and died at a little place called Puppingen, not far from Linz (Attwater, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Walsh, White).
In art Saint Wolfgang is portrayed as a bishop with a hatchet and model cathedral. Sometimes he is shown (1) with the little emperor (Henry II) near him with words 'post sex' over him; (2) with the devil who holds the book while Wolfgang reads the Gospel; (3) building the church of Saint Wolfgang, Regensburg; (4) giving alms; (5) tormented by devils; or (6) striking a fountain from the ground with his crosier (Roeder, White); or (7) praying for a miracle (by Michael Pacher).
Patron of carpenters, shepherds, woodsmen. Invoked against gout, hemorrhage, lameness, stomach troubles, and wolves (Roeder).
Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg’s Story
Wolfgang was born in Swabia, Germany, and was educated at a school located at the abbey of Reichenau. There he encountered Henry, a young noble who went on to become Archbishop of Trier. Meanwhile, Wolfgang remained in close contact with the archbishop, teaching in his cathedral school and supporting his efforts to reform the clergy.
At the death of the archbishop, Wolfgang chose to become a Benedictine monk and moved to an abbey in Einsiedeln, now part of Switzerland. Ordained a priest, he was appointed director of the monastery school there. Later he was sent to Hungary as a missionary, though his zeal and good will yielded limited results.
Emperor Otto II appointed him Bishop of Regensburg, near Munich. Wolfgang immediately initiated reform of the clergy and of religious life, preaching with vigor and effectiveness and always demonstrating special concern for the poor. He wore the habit of a monk and lived an austere life.
The draw to monastic life never left him, including the desire for a life of solitude. At one point he left his diocese so that he could devote himself to prayer, but his responsibilities as bishop called him back. In 994, Wolfgang became ill while on a journey; he died in Puppingen near Linz, Austria. He was canonized in 1052. His feast day is celebrated widely in much of central Europe.
Wolfgang could be depicted as a man with rolled-up sleeves. He even tried retiring to solitary prayer, but taking his responsibilities seriously led him back into the service of his diocese. Doing what had to be done was his path to holiness—and ours.
Fortunat Bergant (1721–1769). Saint Wolfgang, 1766, autel de l’église Saint Wolfgang, Zelše
Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg (924-994)
for October 31
Saint Wolfgang was born in Swabia, Germany, and attended school near the Abbey of Reichenau. While at school, Wolfgang met Henry, a young man of noble birth who would become the archbishop of Trier. Wolfgang remained in contact with Henry, teaching at his cathedral school and backing him in his efforts to reform the clergy. When the archbishop passed away, Wolfgang felt called to become a Benedictine monk at the abbey in Einsiedeln. He was ordained a priest and selected as director of the monastery school. After some time, he was sent as a missionary to Hungary, where he converted many to Christianity with his passion and kindness. Wolfgang was appointed bishop of Regensburg by Emperor Otto II. He instigated clergy reform, showed special care for the poor, preached with passion and zeal, and wore the habit of a monk as part of living a somber life. Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg was canonized in 1052. He is the patron saint of paralyzed people, stroke victims, and carpenters.
Shrine of St Wolfgang within St Wolfgang Crypt, St. Emmeram's Basilica, Regensburg
Saint Wolfgang used his entire life to spread the Good News and joy of Jesus. Remember that each day is a precious gift from God, and we should show our love and praise for him in every action that we do.
Lead me, holy Counselor, to know what to do with my life, how to make good decisions, and how to live life fully. (Taken from "Good News Day by Day: Bible Reflections for Teens.")
1000th day of death of the St. Wolfgang von Regensburg (about 924 to 994)
1000. Todestag des hl. Wolfgang von Regensburg (um 924 bis 994). Graphics by Peter und Regina Steiner. Ausgabepreis: 100 Pfennig. First Day of Issue / Erstausgabetag: 13. Oktober 1994. Michel-Katalog-Nr: 1762. Deutsche Bundespost
St. Wolfgang, Bishop of Ratisbon
RADERUS derives this saint’s pedigree from the most illustrious families of
Suabia; but the ancient author of his life published by Mabillon assures us,
that his parents were of a middle condition in the world. He
was a native of Suabia, and at seven years of age was put into the hands of a
neighbouring virtuous ecclesiastic; but some time after removed to the abbey of
Richenaw (in Latin Augia), founded by Charles Martel in 724, near Constance,
united in 1536 to the bishopric of Constance. This monastery was at that time a
most flourishing school of learning or piety, which furnished many churches
with eminent pastors. In this house our saint contracted an intimacy with a
young nobleman called Henry, brother to Poppo, bishop of Wurtzburg, who had set
up a great school in that city, and engaged an Italian professor, called
Stephen, to leave his own country to give lectures there. It was Wolfgang’s
earnest desire never to know any other employment but that of Mary, and to
spend his life in the contemplation and praises of his Creator; but Henry, who
was charmed with his virtue and other great qualifications, could not bear to
be separated from him, and prevailed upon him to bear him company to this new
school at Wurtzburg. Once when a difficult passage in an author raised a
contest among the scholars about the sense, Wolfgang explained it with so much
perspicuity and evidence, that in all perplexing difficulties the rest had
recourse to him, rather than to the master. This raised in him a jealousy
against the saint, and made him many ways persecute him. Wolfgang, by silence,
patience, and meekness, made his advantage of all the contradictions and
humiliations he met with, thinking no happiness greater than the means and
opportunities of subduing his passions, and gaining a complete victory over
himself; but observing how easily petty jealousies, envy, resentments, vanity,
and other dangerous passions prevailed among both masters and scholars, he
lamented to see those who professed themselves lovers of wisdom, so much
strangers to it, and more addicted to the meanest and most ungenerous passions
of the human mind than the most ignorant and boorish among the common people;
so that, perverting their very studies and science, they made them the means,
not of virtue, but of sin, and the nourishment of their most dangerous
passions, for want of studying to know and perfectly vanquish themselves, without
which even the best food of the mind is converted into the worst poison. What
can poor scholars do in such a school, but contract from their tender years the
contagious spirit of the masters by their example and conversation? The
misfortune of others (which was the more grievous by the usual blindness that
attended it), and the sight of his danger of falling insensibly into the same,
served the more to alarm the saint; who was therefore more watchful, and kept
the stricter guard over all the motions of his own heart; and whilst, by tender
charity, he studied to be blind to the faults of others, he judged and
condemned himself the more severely. In the apprehension of his own weakness,
he was desirous of finding a holy monastery of mortified religious men,
sincerely dead to the world and themselves, whose example might be a spur to
him in the necessary duty of dying to himself without dangerous temptations or
trials. But such a society is not to be found in this life; it is even
necessary that our patience, meekness, and humility be exercised by others
here, that they may be made perfect. Nor is there any company of saints in
which trials fail. This is the very condition of our hire in the divine
service, and of our apprenticeship to heaven. We can never be like the angels
and saints; we can never bear the image of God, unless by humility, patience,
and meekness, we learn perfectly to die to ourselves; nor are these virtues to
be learned, or the spirit of Christ to be put on, but by bearing well contradictions.
Henry perceived this inclination of Wolfgang for a monastic life, and engaged
him to serve his neighbour; and being himself chosen archbishop of Triers in
956, he pressed the saint to accompany him thither.
Wolfgang could not be prevailed upon to take upon him any other charge than that of a school for children; and afterwards that of a community of ecclesiastics, with the title of dean; in both which posts he succeeded to a miracle, and to the edification of the whole country, in planting the spirit of Christ in those that were committed to his care. Upon the death of the Archbishop of Triers he made some stay with Bruno, archbishop of Cologne, but could not be prevailed on to accept of any bishopric, and retired soon after to the monastery of Enfilden, governed at that time by George, an Englishman, who had left his own country to serve God in silence and mortification. The abbot soon found the reputation of Wolfgang to be inferior to his merit, and appointed him director of the school of the monastery, which, under his care, became the most flourishing in the whole country. St. Ulric, bishop of Ausburg, in whose diocess this abbey stood, ordained St. Wolfgang priest, in spite of all the opposition his humility could form. With his ordination the holy man received an apostolical spirit, and having obtained his abbot’s leave, in 972, went with a select number of monks to preach the faith to the Hungarians. The success of this undertaking seemed not sufficiently to correspond to his zeal; but the Bishop of Passaw detained him some time, and, by a private message recommended him to the Emperor Otho II., as a person of all others the best qualified to fill the see of Ratisbon, which was then vacant. To put a cheat upon the saint’s humility, the emperor ordered him to repair to Ratisbon, as if it had been for some other affairs. When he arrived there, the Archbishop of Saltzburg, and several bishops of the province were ready to receive him, and to see the election duly performed by the clergy and people. He was then put into safe hands, and conducted to the emperor at Frankfort, who gave him the investiture of the temporalities, though the saint entreated him on his knees to allow him to return to his monastery. Being sent back to Ratisbon he was consecrated and enthroned. He never quitted the monastic habit, and practised all the austerities of a religious life when in possession of the episcopal dignity. The first thing he did in it, after an excellent regulation of his own conduct and household, was to settle a thorough reformation among all his clergy, and in all the monasteries of his diocess, especially the nunneries of Obets Munster and Nider Munster; disorders in the sanctuary being of all others the most pernicious, and of the most fatal influence. He was indefatigable in preaching, and, being a man of prayer, possessed powerfully the art of touching the hearts of his hearers. Every other duty of his station he discharged with extraordinary vigilance and fidelity during twenty-two years’ administration. The poor had always the greatest share in his table and revenues, though in his profuse charities, he seemed to conceal from his own left hand what his right hand gave. The time which was not taken up in business, he consecrated entirely to the strictest silence and retirement; and he employed a considerable part of the nights in devout prayer. Not content with this, he sometimes retired into some remote cell for a time, and once lay a long time concealed in a wilderness, that by heavenly contemplation he might repair and nourish his own soul. Good part of Bohemia being part of his diocess, he found it too extensive, gave up a great part of his revenue to settle a bishopric in that country, and procured St. Adelbert to be placed in it. Henry, duke of Bavaria, held this good prelate in the highest veneration, and intrusted to him the education of his four children: these were, St. Henry, afterwards Emperor of Germany, Bruno, who died bishop of Ausburg, Gisela, queen of Hungary, and Brigit, who, renouncing the world, died abbess at Ratisbon. The virtue and eminent qualifications of all these princes and princesses made many say: “Find saints for masters, and you will have holy emperors.” We ought to pray that Christ send us such holy prelates, and we shall see the primitive splendour of the church restored. He was taken ill in a journey of charity, and died at Pupping, in Austria, on the 31st of October, 994. 1 His body was brought to Ratisbon, and deposited in St. Emmeran’s church. His name was enrolled among the saints by Leo IX. in 1052, upon the testimony of many miracles, and his relics enshrined by order of the same pope. See his life written by a disciple in Mabillon, Sæc. v. Ben. p. 812; Hundius, Hist. Eccl. Metrop. Salzburgens. Aventin. Ann. Boior; Raderus in Bavaria Sancta, t. 1, p. 94.
Note 1. We have of St. Wolfgang, a paraphrase on the Miserere, published by D. Pez in his Thesaur. Anecdot. Aug. Vindel. 1721, t. 2, p. 13, ad p. 20. In it the saint most pathetically deplores his sins: every word breathes compunction. [back]
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume X: October. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/10/312.html
San Volfango di Ratisbona Vescovo
Svevia, Germania, ca. 924 - Pupping, Austria, 994
Nella tradizione popolare cristiana i racconti sul diavolo sono spesso un modo per ricordare che il Vangelo ha superato le superstizioni e il paganesimo radicati da secoli nella cultura europea. Accade anche nella storia di san Volfango di Ratisbona, che, si dice, sul finire della sua vita riuscì a vincere il diavolo facendosi aiutare dal maligno in persona a costruire una chiesa. Il senso di questa narrazione appare chiaro se letta alla luce della vera storia di questo vescovo nato nel 924 in Svevia e divenuto poi un apostolo del Vangelo nel cuore di un Europa inquietata dalla paura della fine del mondo. Lui seppe cogliere i segni positivi, organizzando la vita ecclesiastica e civile, costruendo nuove chiese, appunto. Vescovo nel 972, morì nella regione di Salisburgo nel 994.
Etimologia: Volfango = che cammina come il lupo
Emblema: Bastone pastorale
Martirologio Romano: A Ratisbona nella Baviera, in Germania, san Volfango, vescovo, che, dopo aver svolto l’ufficio di maestro di scuola e aver fatto professione di vita monastica, elevato alla sede episcopale, ristabilì la disciplina del clero e morì umilmente mentre era in visita nel territorio di Pupping.
E’ riuscito addirittura a farsi aiutare dal diavolo a costruire una chiesa. Questa è una delle molte leggende sorte intorno alla popolarissima figura del vescovo Volfango, uomo di Chiesa e organizzatore della vita civile; costruttore di edifici sacri, e anche di case e di villaggi nelle campagne germaniche. E questo nel X secolo, in prossimità dell’anno Mille. Cioè nell’epoca in cui, secondo invenzioni messe in giro vari secoli dopo, l’Europa sarebbe vissuta nel terrore apatico della “fine del mondo”.
Al contrario, questi sono anni di grandi speranze fondate su realtà evidenti: fine delle aggressioni ungare in Germania e in Italia; cacciata degli arabi dalle teste di ponte sulle coste italiane e francesi. Nell’imminenza dell’anno Mille, si fondano addirittura nuovi Stati (Polonia e Ungheria). E anche la piccola Boemia conia la sua prima moneta d’argento: il “denaro”. Tra i costruttori dell’Europa nuova c’è appunto Volfango, tedesco di Svevia. Educato nel monastero benedettino di Reichenau, sul lago di Costanza, dal 956, pur non essendo prete, ha diretto la scuola arcivescovile di Treviri, in Renania.
Nel 965 lascia l’incarico e si ritira nell’abbazia di Einsiedeln (attuale Svizzera), e tre anni dopo viene ordinato sacerdote. Vorrebbe lavorare alla cristianizzazione degli Ungari che, smesse le razzie, stanno diventando agricoltori. Ma i suoi sforzi hanno poca fortuna. Nel 972 viene nominato vescovo di Ratisbona, la città bavarese che le valli dei fiumi Regen e Naab collegano con le terre boeme; e queste, dal punto di vista ecclesiastico, dipendono da lui, dalla diocesi di Ratisbona.
Ma questo non piace a Volfango, che vede il futuro d’Europa meglio di molti altri, e fa perciò una cosa che sbalordisce: vuole rimpicciolire la sua diocesi, per dare ai cristiani boemi una diocesi boema, con sede a Praga e con un loro vescovo. Intorno a lui si protesta: ma come, se quasi tutti i vescovi cercano di ingrandire le loro diocesi, perché questo qui vuole mutilare la sua? Volfango sa che per incarnare il cristianesimo in un popolo bisogna riconoscerne e valorizzarne la personalità, anche con sede e gerarchia ecclesiastica locale. Un problema che occuperà anche il XX secolo, e che Volfango aveva già compreso. Infatti lascia che a Ratisbona si mormori e si protesti, ma la diocesi di Praga si fa. E nel 976 ha il suo primo vescovo, Tiethmaro, predecessore del grande sant’Adalberto.
Nel 974 la lotta del duca Enrico II di Baviera e l’imperatore Ottone II lo costringe a rifugiarsi nel monastero di Mondsee (regione di Salisburgo). E lì vicino egli innalza una chiesa dedicata a san Giovanni (quella appunto di cui parla la leggenda). Ingrandita e abbellita, essa verrà più tardi dedicata al suo nome. Volfango muore sul lavoro, durante una campagna di predicazione, in Austria. Nel 1052 il papa Leone IX lo proclamerà santo.
Autore: Domenico Agasso
Die katholische Pfarrkirche St. Ulrich im Oberpfälzischen Markt Hohenfels
Nome: San Volfango di Ratisbona
Nascita: 924, Svevia, Germania
Morte: 31 ottobre 994, Linz, Austria
Ricorrenza: 31 ottobre
Volfango, nacque in
Svevia (zona della Germania a nord del lago di Costanza) intorno al 924, fu
mandato nell'abbazia di Reichenau, su un'isola del lago, la quale vantava la
presenza di una fiorente scuola. Qui strinse amicizia con un giovane nobile di
nome Enrico che aveva appena fondato una scuola a Wiirzburg, in Baviera, e che
lo persuase a lasciare Reichenau per seguirlo nel nuovo istituto, dove le
qualità del santo suscitarono ben presto una grande ammirazione e, pare, non
Quando Enrico fu nominato arcivescovo di Treviri, ancora una volta Volfango andò con lui, diventando insegnante della scuola episcopale; fu proprio in questo periodo che, sotto l'influenza di Ramwold, monaco riformatore, cominciò a sostenere con passione i progetti di riforma del clero avanzati dall'arcivescovo Enrico.
La vita di Volfango ebbe una svolta alla morte dell'alto prelato: invece di rimanere a Treviri come insegnante, si fece monaco nell'abbazia benedettina di Einsiedeln (Svizzera) che era retta a quel tempo dal monaco inglese Gregorio.
Il vescovo di Augusta, S. Ulrico (4 lug.), lo ordinò prete e lo mandò in missione in Ungheria con il compito di evangelizzare i magiari, ma, pur avendo adempiuto ai propri doveri con il suo consueto zelo, non ottenne grandi risultati.
Raccomandato in seguito all'imperatore Ottone II come persona adatta a ricoprire un ruolo episcopale, nel 972 fu consacrato vescovo di Ratisbona, nonostante le sue insistenti richieste di poter tornare in monastero.
Anche da vescovo continuò a indossare l'abito monastico, custodendo il più possibile lo stile di vita benedettino, penitenze comprese. Fu un grande riformatore del clero, sia religioso che diocesano; incoraggiò i canonici regolari a vivere una vita comunitaria e nominò Ramwold di Treviri abate dell'abbazia di S. Emmeramo (che tradizionalmente i vescovi di Ratisbona tenevano in commendam, per poter usufruire della sua rendita).
Intervenne personalmente nella riforma di due conventi che davano scandalo a causa della loro indisciplina; fu un eccellente predicatore e l'assistenza che offriva ai poveri divenne leggendaria.
Tuttavia, desiderando ancora ardentemente una vita di maggiore solitudine, sembra che abbia tentato una volta di lasciare la diocesi per ritirarsi in un luogo segreto e dedicarsi alla preghiera, ma che sia stato trovato da alcuni cacciatori che lo ricondussero a Ratisbona. Modello di vescovo zelante e riformatore, compì un'opera perfettamente in armonia con le grandi riforme monastiche del x secolo promosse a Cluny e altrove.
Come vescovo, si dovette assumere numerosi doveri di natura politica, oltre che quelli episcopali; prese parte ad alcune diete imperiali e accompagnò l'imperatore durante una campagna in Francia. Gli fu inoltre affidata l'educazione del giovane figlio del duca di Baviera, che successivamente divenne imperatore e un santo canonizzato, S. Enrico il buono (13 lug.). Nel 994 Volfango si ammalò durante un viaggio lungo il Danubio e morì nei pressi della città austriaca di Linz. Si narra che sul finire della sua vita riuscì a vincere il diavolo facendosi aiutare dal maligno in persona a costruire una chiesa.
Fu canonizzato nel 1052 e la sua festa è celebrata soprattutto nell'Europa centrale, mentre le sue reliquie sono conservate nella cattedrale di Ratisbona.
MARTIROLOGIO ROMANO. A Ratisbona nella Baviera, in Germania, san Volfango, vescovo, che, dopo aver svolto l’ufficio di maestro di scuola e aver fatto professione di vita monastica, elevato alla sede episcopale, ristabilì la disciplina del clero e morì umilmente mentre era in visita nel territorio di Pupping.
Wolfgang von Regensburg
Gedenktag katholisch: 31. Oktober
nicht gebotener Gedenktag im deutschen Sprachgebiet
Hochfest im Bistum Regensburg
Diözesankalender Eisenstadt, Linz, Wien, Augsburg, Regensburg, Rottenburg und Trier
Übertragung von Reliquien in die Jesuitenkirche São Roque nach Lissabon: 25. Januar
Übertragung der Gebeine: 12. Oktober
in Regensburg: Übertragung der Gebeine: 7. Oktober
Name bedeutet: der den Wolf Angreifende (althochdt.)
Glaubensbote in Noricum, Bischof von Regensburg
* 924 (?) in Pfullingen (?) in Baden-Württemberg
† 31. Oktober 994 in Pupping bei Eferding in Oberösterreich
Wolfgang, als Sohn freier, aber nicht adliger Eltern, erhielt zunächst Privatunterricht bei einem Kleriker; ab seinem 7. Lebensjahr besuchte er die Schule des Klosters auf der Bodenseeinsel Reichenau. Auf Vermittlung seines Freundes Heinrich setzte er seine Studien in Würzburg fort. Als Heinrich 956 Bischof in Trier wurde, folgte Wolfgang ihm als Leiter der dortigen Domschule und war von Heinrich offenbar auch als Nachfolger im Bischofsamt vorgesehen. Nach dem Tod seines Freundes wurde er aber 964 Benediktinermönch im Kloster Einsiedeln und 968 von Bischof Ulrich von Augsburg zum Priester geweiht.
Einem visionären Anruf seines Abtes Otmar gehorchend zog Wolfgang als Glaubensbote durch Noricum, bis ihn - durch seine erfolgreiche Wirksamkeit aufmerksam gemacht - Bischof Pilgrim von Passau als Bischof von Regensburg vorschlug: Kaiser Otto I. und der Klerus zweifelten an der Eignung des unscheinbaren Mönches Wolfgang, bis - so die Überlieferung - einer der Zweifler erkrankte und von Wolfgang geheilt wurde; die Einsetzung erfolgte dann in Frankfurt am Main. Von 972 bis bis zu seinem Tod war er dann Bischof von Regensburg. Legenden betonen die heilkräftige und Böses abwehrende Wirksamkeit von Wolfgang und seine Fürsorge: bei einer Predigt versuchte der Teufel vergeblich, die Zuhörenden durch schillernde Strahlen abzulenken; Wolfgang heilte einen Besessenen, er soll Blinde und Aussätzige geheilt haben und teilte bei einer Hungersnot Getreide aus.
Wolfgang war Verfechter eines regelstrengen Lebens bei Mönchen und Kanonikern; Klöster wurden von ihm reformiert, Nonnen und Mönche strenger Zucht unterworfen. Er gründete das Benediktinerinnenkloster St. Paul in Regensburg, dem Kloster St. Emmeram gab er mit Ramwold aus Trier einen Abt, der durch die Reformen von Gorze geprägt war. 973 stimmte er - gegen den Widerstand des Domklerus - der Abtrennung Böhmens von seinem Bistum zu und ermöglichte die Errichtung des Bistums Prag. Während des Aufstandes von Bayernherzog Heinrich dem Zänker 976 stand Wolfgang auf der Seite von Kaiser Otto II. 978 beteiligte er sich am Rachefeldzug von Otto II. gegen den westfränkischen König Lothar, schließlich auch an dessen Italienzug von 980 bis 983. Heinrich der Zänker, nach einem erneuten Aufstand niedergeworfen und von Kaiser Otto III. als Herzog von Bayern wieder eingesetzt und inzwischen der Friedfertige genannt, vertraute Wolfgang dann die Erziehung seiner Kinder an, u. a. die des späteren Heinrich II.
Die Legende erzählt von Wolfgangs zeitweiligen Einsiedlerleben am Abersee - dem nun nach ihm benannten Wolfgangsee - in Österreich, dem er seit seiner Missionstätigkeit besonders zugetan war. Als der bayrische Herzog Heinrich der Zänker seinen Aufstand gegen Kaiser Otto II. wagte, habe Wolfgang, weil er den aufflammenden Krieg nicht verhindern konnte, sich 976 ins Kloster Mondsee begeben, das damals zum Bistum Regensburg gehörte. 977 ging er demnach von dort zum Wolfgangsee, um - nur von einem Laienbruder begleitet - als Einsiedler zu leben. Zunächst bewohnte er demnach eine Höhle auf einem Berg - heute steht dort die Wallfahrtskapelle Falkenstein - und führte ein so strenges Leben, dass nicht einmal der begleitende Laienbruder es durchhalten konnte und er den Heiligen bald wieder verließ. Als ein Helfer bei der Arbeit der Rodung des großen Waldes Durst bekam, habe Wolfgang am Falkenstein eine Quelle entspringen lassen; deren Wasser wird bis heute als heilkräftig betrachtet.
Das Einsiedlerleben wurde durch den Teufel gestört, welcher immer wieder versuchte, Wolfgang zu vernichten, so dass Wolfgang beschloss, sich an einem freundlicheren Ort eine Klause zu erbauen. Er warf - von der Stelle der heutigen Hacklwurf-Kapelle am Falkenstein aus - seine Axt ins Tal hinab und gelobte, an dem Ort, an dem er sie wieder finden werde, eine Kirche zu erbauen. Unverzüglich begann Wolfgang mit dem Bau von Kirche und Klause, doch waren die Schwierigkeiten für diesen Bau mitten in der Wildnis groß; da bot sich der Teufel zur Mithilfe an unter der Bedingung, dass das erste lebende Wesen, das die Kirche betrete, ihm gehöre. Das erste lebende Wesen, das nach der Fertigstellung das Kirchlein betrat, war ein Wolf, den der Teufel voller Wut packte und mit ihm durch ein Loch in der Kirchendecke davonfuhr.
Wolfgang lebte demnach insgesamt sieben Jahre in der Einöde, bis sein Aufenthaltsort von einem Jäger entdeckt wurde und eine Abordnung aus Regensburg ihn bat, doch wieder den bischöflichen Stuhl einzunehmen. Er wollte sich diesen Bitten nicht entziehen, doch prophezeite er, dass sich nach seinem Tod am Grabe in Regensburg keine Wunder ereignen würden, während er allen, die ihn am Ort seiner Einsiedelei am Abersee anriefen, seine Hilfe nicht versagen werde. Tatsächlich hatte Wolfgang sich in den Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Heinrich und Otto aus Regensburg abgesetzt, wohl in das von ihm mit Erlaubnis von Kaiser Otto II. errichtete Kastell Wieselburg in Niederösterreich; das Kloster Mondsee hat er von dort aus reformiert.
Die vielseitige und umsichtige Tätigkeit, die er in Regensburg entfaltete, begründete Wolfgangs Verehrung schon zu Lebzeiten. Er versuchte besonders, die Bildung und das geistliche Lebens des Klerus und der Orden zu fördern. Wolfgang war in seinem Bistum außerordentlich beliebt, nicht zuletzt wegen seiner großen Menschenfreundlichkeit und Güte, seiner großen Demut und Bescheidenheit.
Wolfgangs letzte Worte:
Öffent die Türen und lasset alle herein, die mich sterben sehen wollen. Sterben ist keine Schande. Schande bringt nur ein schlechtes Leben. Es mag jeder an meinem Tode schauen, was er in seinem eigenen zu erwarten und zu fürchten hat.
Inschrift an der Kirche in Pupping
Als Wolfgang 994 die Donau entlang zu den Regensburger Besitzungen im Osten reiste, starb Pupping in der Otmar geweihten Kirche vor dem Altar, nach Beichte und letzter Ölung. Seine Begleiter verwehrten den Menschen, die in die Kirche drängten um den berühmten Bischof sterben zu sehen, den Zutritt. Doch dieser wies sie an, jedem Einlass zu gewähren, der ihm beim Sterben zuschauen wollte: das Sterben sei keine Schande - jeder solle sein Sterben beobachten, um für die eigene Todesstunde Erfahrungen zu sammeln. Wolfgang starb also in aller Öffentlichkeit und ordnete dies auch bewusst an, um den Menschen einen vorbildhaften, gelassenen Tod zu demonstrieren.
Wolfgangs Leichnam wurde nach Regensburg gebracht und im Kloster St. Emmeram bestattet. 1052 wurden seine Gebeine durch Papst Leo IX. feierlich erhoben. Das Grab befindet sich heute in der Wolfgangs-Krypta von St. Emmeram. Ein Zahn wird als Reliquie im Wolfgang-Altar der Kirche des ehemaligen Klosters Mondsee verwahrt.
Eine zeitgenössische Lebensbeschreibung ist verschollen. Sie war die Vorlage für die Lebensbeschreibung und das Buch mit Wunderberichten des Propstes Arnold von St. Emmeram, verfasst vor 1030, letzteres als Ausdruck seines heilsamen Einflusses auf die Menschen. Die Vita Wolfkangi des Otloh von St. Emmeram entstand vor 1062. Die Verehrung setzte v. a. nach Erhebung der Gebeine 1052 ein. Im Spätmittelalter wurde Wolfgang zur bedeutenden Heiligengestalt. Zahlreiche Orte wurden nach ihm benannt, auch der Abersee erhielt im Volksmund den Namen nach Wolfgang; Ausgangspunkt der Legenden war wohl das Kloster Mondsee; deren älteste erhaltene Handschrift stammt vom 14. Jahrhundert aus Nürnberg. Die Kirche in St. Wolfgang wurde Anfang des 14. Jahrhunderts Wallfahrtsstätte, sie war war um 1500 nach Rom, Santiago de Compostela und Aachen die beliebteste in Europa. Das Bild von Wolfgang wurde zum Schutz des Viehs an Stalltüren angebracht. Im 16. Jahrhundert wurde in Regensburg Geld nach Wolfgang benannt: der Gulden trug sein Bild.
2009 entdeckten Archäologen auf der Lichtung unterhalb der Kapelle auf dem Falkenstein Fundamente einer Einsiedelei, die im 17. Jahrhundert zur Betreuung der Pilger errichtet wurde und von der es bislang nur historische Abbildungen gab. An ihr mussten damals alle Pilger vorbei, da es nach St. Wolfgang keinen anderen Weg gab; um 1870 wurde die Einsiedelei aufgelöst.
Attribute: Bischofsstab, Kirchenmodell, Wolf, Beil, Teufel
Patron von Bayern und Regensburg und St. Wolfgang; der Hirten, Schiffer, Holzarbeiter, Köhler, Zimmerleute, Bildhauer, unschuldig Gefangenen; des Viehs; bei Schlaganfällen; gegen Gicht, Lähmungen, Fußleiden, Ruhr, Hauterkrankungen, Hautentzündungen (Wolf), Blutfluss, Schlaganfall, Augenkrankheiten, Bauchschmerzen und Unfruchtbarkeit, Missgeburten; des Bistums Regensburg
Bauernregeln: An St.
Wolfgang Regen / verspricht ein Jahr voll Segen.
Am Wolfgangregen / ist viel gelegen.
Den heiligen Wolfgang mit seiner Biographie, allen seinen Aufenthaltsorten, seinem Geburtsort und seiner Grabstätte sowie viele Wolfgangkirchen stellt SchwabenMedia Meitingen vor.
Über Lochsteine und Durchkriechriten und die Wolfgangslegende informiert mit Fotos Franz Lindenmayr auf seiner Homepage Mensch und Höhle.
Die Kirche in St. Wolfgang ist täglich von 8 Uhr bis 18 Uhr geöffnet, im Winter nur bis 16 Uhr. (2019)