German Couple

St Henry II (972-1024)
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewski

St. Henry II's feast day is July 13th. He is the patron of the Bishops of Bamberg, and the cities of Bamberg and Basel. Henry was born in Albach, Bavaria on May 6, 972/973. Henry's father was Duke Henry "the Quarrelsome" and his mother was Gisela of Burgundy. Henry was sent to Cathedral School in Hildesheim. He was educated by Bishop Wolfgang and Abbot Ramwold of Regensburg. In 955, Henry succeeded his father as duke as Duke of Bavaria. His cousin was Emperor Otto III. Otto and Henry inherited the throne as Holy Roman Emperors. In 1002 he was elected a German king. At this time Ardium of Ivrea was Italy's self-proclaimed king (against Henry's rule). In 1004 Henry's army crossed th Alps to put down the rebellion. After this, Henry was crowned Italy's king by the Archbishop of Milan. He also became Holy Roman Emperor, in 1014 with the support of Pope Benedict VIII. Henry was a zealous proponent of church reforms, extension of the system of Imperial churches, which joined with the monastical reforms pursued by Gorze and Trier by St. Maximine.

In 1004, there was the renewal of the Bishopric of Merseburg. In 1007, he founded the Bishopric of Banmberg. Henry married Cunegunda, daughter of Count Sigfried of Lutzelburg. In 1021, Henry was cured of an unknown disease that left him lame. Before he was cured he was seen praying with Benedict VIII at Monte Cassino.

Henry also won a battle against Polish King Boleslaw with the help of St. Lawrence.

Cunegunda and Henry produced no heirs, because of her vow of celibacy. Henry's died on July 13, 1024, in Grona near Gottingen, which marked the end of the Saxon Dynasty of Emperors. After Henry's death Cundegunda lived in the Abbey of Kaufungen where she was established and she died there in 1033. She was buried in her Benedictine dress of her Order of Saint Lambrecht.

Bamberg cathedral goes back to the 11th century and was financed by Henry II, whose tomb is one of the major sights. Magnificient statue 'Bamberg Rider' attracts numerous visitors, too. Its four towers dominate the city's skyline. Henry was buried in Bamberg, while Cunegunda was buried in Kaufungen. However her bones were moved and laid to rest next to her husband's. (d. 1033 A.D.)

The medieval cathedral of Bamberg, Germany, has a unique shrine. Side by side are the tombs of Emperor St. Henry II and his empress, St. Cunegund. Since few emperors have won the title of saint, this double shrine is indeed unusual.

Cunegund of the Wagnerian name was the devout daughter of a noble couple who bore the equally Wagnerian names of Siegfried and Hedwig. She married the Duke of Bavaria, Henry. They never had any children, but the older belief that theirs was an intentionally celibate marriage is no longer considered true.

Cunegunda's relics are in Eichstatt (since 1501), Vienna St. Steven's Cathedral, Kloster Andechs, Luxembourg (circa 1600), Lisbon, Jesuit Church (since 1587). Henry was canonized in 1246 and Cunegunda was canonized in 1200.

*Bamberg-is a city of Northern Bayern (Bavaria), in South Central Germany.

*Basel is in North West Switzerland.


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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