Dienstag, 13. Januar 2009

St. Wolfgang of Regensburg

Saint Wolfgang or Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg (c. 934 - October 31, 994) was bishop of Regensburg in Bavaria from Christmas 972 until his death.

Wolfgang was descended from an aristochratic Swabian famliy and was provided a private education at his home.

Like many European clergy, a full appreciation of Wolfgang's life requires some knowledge of European history and politics. Although such a historical survey is beyond the scope of this blog, it is important to know that Wolfgang was a key figure in Europe's slow march out of what many consider the Dark Ages.

Wars with the Magyars (Huns) resulted in their settlement in roughly what is now Hungary (955). The conversion of the Magyars to Christianity was seen as an important step in reducing their threat to the germanic Holy Roman Empire. Ulrich, Bishop of Augsburg and Emperor Otto the Great sent Wolfgang to the Magyars in order to evangelize them.

He was summoned back in 956 by his friend Henry, Archbishop of Trier, and was appointed as a teacher in the cathedral school of Trier. His residence at Trier greatly influenced his monastic and ascetic tendencies. After Henry's death in 964, Wolfgang entered the Benedictine order in the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln, Switzerland. He was ordained priest in 968 by Ulrich, Bishop of Augsburg.

Four years later Wolfgang was appointed Bishop of Regensburg by the emperor on September 23, 972. His new duties included the private education of Emperor Saint Henry II; Poppe, future Archbishop of Trier; and Tagino, future Archbishop of Magdeburg.

St. Wolfgang's attempts at Church reform were met with resistance. Yet he is remembered for strengthening and promoting monastic communities in the Ratisbon area. He founded the convent of St. Paul, Mittelmunster (983) and brought various reforms to the Abbey of St. Emmeram (975), the convents of Obermünster and Niedermünster (also at Regensburg), and the Benedictine Abbey of Altach. He took part in the various imperial synods, sometimes accompanying Emperor Otto. The emperor eventually reduced the size of Wolfgang's diocese to make room for a new bishop.

It may have been the ongoing political machinations that disenchanted Wolfgang and drove him to a solitary life as a hermit. Legend says that 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.

While traveling on the Danube, he fell ill and was carried to his native Pupping where he died in the chapel of Saint Othmar. His body was interned in Regensburg. He was canonized as a Saint in 1052.

The oldest and best manuscript of Wolfgang's "Life" is in the library of his home Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln in Switzerland. He is often depicted in art with an axe in his right hand, or as a hermit in the wilderness being discovered by a hunter.

Wolfgang's feastday is celebrated on October 31st.

This post incorporates information from Wikipedia and New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia


aaronandbrighid hat gesagt…

Nice hagiographic post! And I really like the engraving! Maybe since we're on different calendars it's a good idea to do as you've done here and post on Saints willy-nilly rather than according to their feastdays.

Justin hat gesagt…

I was afraid that since there are only a few German saints, there would be only a handful of posts all year. Also, these Saints are usually associated with the Catholic Church. Being purposefully willy nilly is better than being mistaken for Catholic.

aaronandbrighid hat gesagt…

Well, one thing we can do to supplement the short roster of German Saints is to write about the celebrations and customs surrounding non-German Saints as they have been venerated in Germany (even if it's been Catholics and/or Protestants doing the venerating!). The post I just did on St Coloman's church is a good example of what I mean. I'd also like to post on aspects of German piety and spiritual history since the Schism that I think are akin to Orthodoxy, or can be affirmed by us to some extent.