German Couple

St Benno of Meissen (1010-1106)
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewski

St. Benno

St. Benno's's feast day is June 16th. He is the patron of Munich, Germany; cloth weavers, and fishermen. Benno, a Saxon, was born in Hildeshiem, a city in central Germany, in 1010. Benno's father was Count Frederick of Bultenberg and his uncle was Bernward, Bishop of Gildesheim. Benno was educated in St. Michael's Abbey in Hildesheim by his uncle, Bernward. He remained with his uncle until Bernward died. Benno joined the monastery in Hildesheim. Benno was made Bishop of Meissen in 1066. He lived during the reign of King Henry IV (1081-1125). Henry was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1056-1106. Henry IV was the son of Henry "the Black" (1017-1056).

Benno was the leading pelate in Saxony, so he had to be extremely careful while helping his people, not to anger his king (Henry IV). Henry had been King of Saxony for ten (10) years. Benno favored Saxon resistance to the taxes and forced labor that was imposed on his parish members by Henry IV. Henry IV arrested Benno for his defiance. In his anger, Henry IV took away Benno's position as Bishop of Meissen in 1085. A year later, Benno was released from prison. Benno sided with Pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand) as he and King Henry IV were in conflict. Henry invested many bishops and other church officers in his domain. Gregory was angry that Benno went above his head and so he made Benno's investitures invalid. The two men argued for eight years afterwards.

Benno then took up missionary work and traveled to the land of the Slavs and Wends.

Later on, Benno was reinstated as bishop by Guibert, the antipope, who was installed by Henry IV. Then in 1097, his tenure as Bishop of Meissen was confirmed by Pope Urban II. The Saxons loved Benno because of his generosity to the poor. Benno died on June 16, 1106, at age 95 years. By 1523, Benno was canonized by Pope Adrian VI, and most of his relics rest, (since 1580) in Munich, Germany.

***Hildesheim is a city in Hanover, West Central Germany.

***Meissen is a city on the Elbe River, Central Sachsen, in Southern Germany.


Butler's Lives of the Saints (on CD-ROM) USA: Harmony Media, Inc., 1996. Their Website

Hoever, Rev. Hugo. Lives of the Saints. New York: Catholic Books Publishing Co., 1989. 353.

Jöckle, Clemens. Encyclopedia of Saints. London: Alpine Fine Arts Collection Ltd., 1995, 52-53.

Kelly, Sean and Rosemary Rodgers. Saints Preserve Us. New York: Random House, 1993, 31.

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