In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
I have been thinking about the story of St. Meinrad. This great saint I consider a patron of mine.
The life of St. Meinrad is well known where I am from as the town is named after him, but I have found that many are unaware of the story of the noble man that lived as a simple hermit.
So for this Sunday let me relay you the story of St.Meinrad, Patron Saint of Hospitality, my Patron saint and inspiration.
St.Meinrad was born in the time of Charles, Emperor of the Franks to a family of Alamannian counts in Hollenzollern.
The Boy Meinrad was educated by and left in the care of the Benedictine monk Erlebald. This exposure to the ways and method of St. Benedict left a lasting impression on St.Meinrad and it was at an Abbey on an Island in Lake Constance where he became a Monk and was Ordained first to a Deacon at the age of 25 and then shortly after to the order of Presbyter (Priest.)
The timeline of his ordination mirrored that of his mentor and during the time of his ordination the monastery was under the authority of the Abbot Hatto eventually being succeeded by the mentor and father figure of St.Meinrad, Erlebald.
After spending some years at a Priory around the time of 829 A.D. He embraced the Eremitical life and in this path he established his hermitage on the slopes of Etzel Pass.
He took with him the sacred statue of the Virgin Mary (Our Lady of Einsiedeln) which was given into his guardianship by the Abbess Hildegarde of Zurich.
It was in the location of what now sits the Benedictine Monastery in Einsiedeln where he retreated into the forest and practiced his faith.
He was kept company by his two Raven companions which tradition says he would regularly converse with. It is said that the Ravens grew in love and affection for St.Meinrad and the kindness he showed them.
St.Meinrad, always being known for his kindness and hospitality never turned a sincere student or pilgrim away, believing that he must show them the love of Christ in his own actions. He became known for his joyful countenance and generous nature.
St.Meinrad was a student and follower of the wisdom of the Desert Fathers and practiced a form of strict asceticism.
Pilgrims would visit the Shrine he created to honor the Virgin Mary, they offered gifts and he would tend to the organization of the gifts and redistribution of those gifts to the poor.
For the next 26 years, St.Meinrad lived a life of prayer and fasting, exorcising demons and performing miracles for those in need.
In 863, after being given a vision foreshadowing events that were to unfold. After St.Meinrad had said Mass he was visited by two men, one named Richard and the other named Peter. Both were violent thieves and came to the shrine asking for food to eat.
St.Meinrad greeted the two men and said, “”O friends, why did you come so late? Why didn’t you hurry and come and hear my humble Mass so that I could pray to our common Lord on your behalf? But even now go in, ask God and his saints to be gentle with you, and afterwards return to me, so that I may share for the love God whatever blessing I can offer you that he bestows. And so finish the work that you have come to do.”
The treasures left for the Shrine which St.Meinrad had yet to redistribute to the poor caught the eye of the criminals.
St.Meinrad understood their ultimate intention having seen it in the vision, but knowing this was part of the great plan still served them food and drink and saw to their comfort.
After they dined and rested they demanded that St.Meinrad give them all of the treasure that they saw. St.Meinrad told them, “I know why you are here and what you plan to do, as you will do what you will all I ask is that you place these two candles that I have made and my head and feet and light them.”
Violent and hateful by their nature the two thieves beat and murdered St.Meinrad and began to loot the shrine.
After they were done they stripped St.Meinrad naked and placed them in his bed with the two candles that he held in his hands. As they returned from the oratory with a light for the candles they noticed that the flames were already ignited.
It was at this point that the two Ravens found St.Meinrad dead and began to peck and injure the Murderers. They Ravens attacked the two men as they ran the entire way back to the neighboring town. When the townsfolk saw that it was St.Meinrad’s Ravens who were attacking the men they feared that the men had done something awful to St.Meinrad and they took them into custody.
Leaders of the town visited the hermitage and shrine and found St.Meinrad dead in his cell. Punishment came swiftly for the two men. They were both burned alive by the authorities of the town. Afterward the brothers of St.Meinrad’s order retrieved his body and buried him with full apostolic honors.
So suffered the holy martyr, on the 21st day of January in the eight hundredth and sixty-third year from the incarnation of the Lord, while Louis reigned as king over the east Franks, in the 28th year of his reign.
In service to the Logos,
Msgr. Meinrad, n/OSC – Priory of the Rose Cross