Sunday 30 June 2013

Saint Erentrude of Nunberg, June 30

Canon O'Hanlon brings the month of June to a close with an account of a female saint, Erentrude, who flourished in 6th/7th-century Bavaria. As with a number of other continental saints, this holy lady is included among the Irish saints by the great 17th-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan. He did so on the grounds that some of the hagiographical sources make her a sister to Saint Rupert of Salzburg and link both to Ireland. Modern scholarship tends to the opinion that Saint Erentrude was of Franconian-Merovingian descent, but given that she does appear in at least some of the later Irish calendars, I offer Canon O'Hanlon's account below:



...At the 30th of June, Colgan intended to insert the Acts of St. Erentrudis, virgin, as would appear from his list of Irish Saints, published by Charles MacDonnell, Esq. Henry Fitzsimon has classed her among the Saints of Ireland, but without assigning the date for her festival. In their Legendary for the month of June, the Canons Regular of Bodensee Monastery in Westphalia appear to have had special Lessons in an office for St. Erendrude. The Bollandists have published a previous commentary, and Acts of St. Erentrude, at this date. The Third Volume of the "Acta Sanctorum Ordinis S. Benedicti," contains the Life of St. Erendrude, Abbess.

This holy virgin, from an early age consecrated to God in the religious state, is said by some writers to have been a sister to St. Rupert, bishop of Saltzburg, whose festival was celebrated on the 27th March. In Colgan's work, at the same day, there are a few brief notices; but, in the Bollandist collection, there is no special feast assigned for her, at that particular date. Already there are some particulars concerning her recorded in the Life of her reputed brother St. Rupert. In it, we find her called a relation to him; while some writers state, that she was his niece, according to Rev. Dr. Lanigan. He does not consider, however, that she had anything to do with Ireland, although such an opinion has long prevailed in Germany. She seems to have been born, towards the middle of the sixth century.

In St. Rupert's Life, it is stated, that from Ireland she travelled to Rome with both her brothers, St. Trudbert and St. Rupert. They returned in company together from Italy to Germany; when, at Prysgangia or Brisgangia near the Hyrcinian forest, St. Trudbert parted from them, and soon afterwards he obtained the martyr's crown. Thence, Rupert and Erentrude journeyed along the Rhine, until they reached Bormatia, now known as Worms. Over this city, Rupert presided as Bishop, but he was driven from it with violence about the year 580. Afterwards, he visited Rome, and then he returned once more to Bavaria, Austria and Pannonia. At last, he became bishop of Saltzburgh— that city so romantically situated on the Salza River, which flows into the Inn, and under the range of the towering Carinthian or Rhoetian chain of high-peaked Alpine mountains. The citadel here—no longer kept in repair —stands on a bold and commanding rock.One of its gateways is cut through a solid rock, being 300 feet in length, 30 feet in height, and 24 in breadth. The cathedral here—Italian in style of architecture is an imposing structure, and of great historical interest.There can hardly be a doubt, but St. Erentrude shared in the vicissitudes, hardships and persecutions of her distinguished brother; although her personality is lost sight of in his Acts, until we learn, that he built for her a monastery, at a place called Nunberg. This idea was of her own suggestion; for, she most earnestly desired to assist her brother in his missionary labours, among a rude and halfcivilized people. This nunnery of St. Erendrude was situated without the fortifications of Salzburg, and on a neighbouring hill. Anciently, this place was known as the Cell, and called by such a name.

From accounts that have come to us, it would seem, she had a place among the Wangiones, in the city of Worms. St. Rupert had built a suitable house of reception for herself and her nuns, near Salzburgh; while, she felt greatly delighted to join him there. That house had been consecrated to the Blessed Virgin. When she arrived at Salzburgh, St. Rupert accosted her thus: " My revered sister, know why I have brought you hither?" She replied: "Yes, Father, I know it well, as our Lord Jesus Christ revealed it to me in spirit, saying, go in peace where you are called, and lo, I am with you; I shall bring to you great numbers of pious women, who, through your example conducted in the pathways of true religion, shall finally come to me." When St. Rupert heard these words, he gave thanks to the Almighty. It is said, that Theodobert, Duke of Bavaria, aided in building this religious house, and that he liberally endowed it, while he took care, that the memory of his father Theodon, converted by St. Rupert, should be remembered in the prayers of those holy virgins there serving Christ in the religious state. After some time, numberless pious virgins and holy matrons flocked to her religious establishment; and over these, she presided with such consummate prudence, that soon they were trained to all the duties of perfect nuns.

An account of the remarkable vision, touching the death of her illustrious relation St. Rupert, will be found in Acts of the latter, published by the Bollandists. She presided as first Abbess at Nunberg over a community of pious virgins, some time after the beginning of the seventh century. About the year 627 or 628, when St. Rupert had a divine monition, that his days on earth were nearly numbered, he held an interview with his beloved sister, and revealed his approaching departure to her, while he requested her to pray for his soul, that the Almighty would vouchsafe to receive it into Heaven. This announcement drew tears to her eyes, and she immediately replied in a sorrowing mood: "If this should happen, my Lord, as you state, is it not more expedient that I should depart before you ?" The holy Bishop answered her: "My dearest sister, do not desire importunately and prematurely to hasten your passage from this world, as it should be a great sin so to do; since our death depends not on our wish, but on the disposition of Divine Providence." Whereupon, St. Erentrude in tears fell upon her knees at the feet of St. Rupert, saying: "My paternal Lord, remember, I beseech thee, that from my country thou has brought me hither, and now you intend to leave me miserable and an orphan. One request only have I now to make, that if I deserve not to die before or with thee, that at least, soon after thy departure to Heaven, I may have a much-desired release from earth, through thy intercession." The holy Bishop Rupert assented to this her petition, and then both began a colloquy on the happiness of life eternal. So tender was their conversation and the flow of natural sympathy, during this affecting juncture, that both separated, while tears flowed plenteously from their eyes.

We are informed, that after St. Rupert's death, St. Erentrude persisted tearfully in prayer by day and night for the soul of her relation, while her vigils were prolonged, with the hope of having her earnest wishes crowned. One night, he appeared to her in a vision, and saying to her: "Come, my dearest sister, into the kingdom of Christ, for which thou has so long laboured." Awaking as it were from a dream, she then returned thanks to the Almighty. Soon afterwards, serious illness fell upon her. Then, calling her sisters to her bedside, she lovingly exhorted them. Having received the Holy Eucharist, she gave them severally the kiss of peace, and then calmly rendered her soul into the keeping of her Divine Redeemer. The date for her death has not been recorded, but it occurred, probably, about A.D. 630. Her sacred remains were brought into Salzburgh, and there embalmed. They were afterwards deposited with great reverence, in the crypt of the Monastery of the Blessed Virgin, the day before the July Kalends, at which date her chief feast is commemorated. Several very remarkable miracles were wrought at her tomb, and through the intercession of this holy virgin, whose memory was so greatly revered by the people. In consequence of those miracles, it is stated, that St. Virgil, Bishop of Salzburg, had her canonised, and afterwards, her remains were translated, in order to be more publicly honoured.

In course of ages, the monastery of St. Erentrude suffered from hostile incursions and from incendiarism, so that it had been reduced to a heap of ruins. Afterwards, the Emperor Henry II., surnamed the Pious, resolved on the restoration of this religious establishment, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to St. Erendrude. This distinguished Imperator is stated to have been subject to epilepsy, which his physicians could not cure; but, when he came to the tomb of St. Erendrude, and had prayed there, he obtained some of her relics, which he enclosed in a golden locket, and wore suspended from his neck. Afterwards, he was relieved from that infirmity, and as a token of gratitude, he presented two golden calcaria to ornament her tomb. About the year 1024, the Emperor Henry II. of Germany, having effected the restoration of St. Erentrude's monastery, or rather having rebuilt it; the chief altar in the crypt, and two others, are said to have been consecrated by Balduin, Archbishop of Salzburgh, about the year 1041. This monastery of St. Erentrude was liberally endowed by the aforesaid Emperor. It is stated, furthermore, that the church so renovated had been consecrated to the Blessed Virgin and to St. Erentrude, by Archbishop Hertwic, the Emperor himself assisting. Afterwards, the body of St. Erentrude was removed with great reverence, from the ancient tomb in which it had so long lain, to a crypt beneath the middle altar, where it reposed in the beginning of the fourteenth century. It seems possible, also, that a subsequent Translation took place. The year 1305 is that generally assigned for the Translation of St. Erentrude's relics, at Nunberg, and the day was on the 3rd of September. This was kept as a holyday by the citizens, and on it they abstained from all servile works. An office commemorating this solemnity was also recited by the nuns. This translation of her relics, to the crypt of the church in which they are now preserved, was most probably on the 3rd of September, which is a feast kept in her honour.

About the beginning of the fourteenth century, one Caesarius, a chaplain in Nunberg, and who had served in that capacity for twenty-eight years, relates a number of miracles wrought through the intercession of St. Erentrude, as he had learned them from various sources; not alone from the nuns, but from externs worthy of trust. This account is still more interesting, owing to the traditional lights it throws on the history of Nunberg, as on the Acts of its holy Patroness. The festival of this holy virgin is commemorated in a Manuscript Florarius and by Philip Ferrarius. In like manner, Arnold Wion, Menard, Bucelin, and Petrus Canisius record her memory. An Office Book, printed for the church of Salzburgh a.d. 1585, has Nine Lessons in her praise. According to the Martyrology of Andrew Saussay, the chief feast of St. Erentrude, by some writers called the sister, and by others, the niece, of St. Rupert, Bishop of Saltzburg, was celebrated on this day. At the 30th of June, Thomas Dempster, in his "Menologium Scotorum," has entered a feast for St. Erentrudis...

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