Bishop and Church Reformer (1010-1106)
+ Benno was born of a noble Saxon family at Hildesheim (in modern-day Germany) in the year 1010. A monk of the Abbey of St. Michael, he was eventually elected abbot, but resigned after only three months in the hope of dedicating himself to solitude and prayer.
+ In 1066, Benno was appointed as Bishop of Meissen. Over the next thirty years, Benno became involved in the investiture controversy as he was caught up in the struggle between the Emperor and successive popes.
+ Following a turbulent career, which included a period of exile, he was eventually given Papal protection by Pope Urban II, and he seems to have spent his last nine years in comparative political peace.
+ A diligent shepherd, he enforced discipline on his clergy, made regular visitations, gave generously to the poor, restored the public singing of the Divine Office to his cathedral.
+ Saint Benno died around the year 1106 and was canonized in 1523.
+News of Benno’s canonization so angered Martin Luther that he issued a treatise entitled, “Against the New Idol and the Old Devil About To Be Set Up at Meissen.” Fifty years later, after Meissen had become a Protestant stronghold, his relics were transferred to Munich, where he is honored as the city’s principal patron.
For prayer and reflection
“Who is the steward who must be both faithful and wise? The apostle Paul tells us when he says of himself and his companions: This is how you should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful… the blessed Apostle also tells us that the bishops too are stewards. A bishop, he says, must be blameless because he is God’s steward.”—Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe
Almighty and eternal God, who gave your holy Church blessed Benno as Bishop, grant that what he taught when moved by the divine Spirit may always stay firm in our hearts; and as by your gift we embrace him as our patron, may we also have him as our defender to entreat your mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For a Bishop)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.