Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Martyr of Hospitality

Meinrad, the “Martyr of Hospitality,” was born of a free peasant family near what is modern-day Würtemberg, Germany. As a youth, he became a monk in the Benedictine Abbey of Reichenau, Switzerland, where he was eventually ordained a priest and became a teacher in the monastery school. Seeking a life of solitude, he received permission from his abbot to become a hermit and settled in a nearby forest, around the year 829. He acquired a reputation for holiness and many came to him seeking his advice and prayers. Desiring greater solitude, he moved to a remote spot in the Black Forest. 
An early illumination depicting the martyrdom of Saint Meinrad.

After living in this new hermitage, the site of which would eventually come to be known as Einsideln (the “Hermitage”), he courteously received two visitors, who turned out to be thieves who believed Meinrad was hoarding treasure. Finding none, they clubbed the holy man to death; this occurred on January 21, 861. His body was later recovered by the monks of Reichenau and a new abbey grew up on the site of Meinrad’s hermitage. Today, this monastery, with its famed “Black Madonna,” is one of the most popular destinations for pilgrims in Europe. In 1854, monks from the Abbey of Einsiedeln established a new foundation in the United States, known today as Saint Meinrad Archabbey.

The famed "Black Madonna" of the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln.
Although today (January 21) is the universally celebrated as the Memorial Saint Agnes, the child-martyr of Rome, we also celebrate the memory of the martyr Meinrad. This monk’s life and death, and particularly his willingness to offer hospitality to who came to him (including those whom, according to tradition, he knew would take his life), reminds us that hospitality is an essential facet of our life in Christ. Realizing that all we have been given is a gift entrusted to us by God, we are empowered, like Meinrad, to share those gifts freely with others: “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 of God whatever blessings I can offer you that He bestows” (Saint Meinrad).
A Prayer in Honor of Saint Meinrad +
All-powerful and eternal God,
your wonders shine forth
in the merits of your blessed martyr Meinrad.
We beg you that, as you crowned him
with the glory of suffering for your name,
so now that might be aided by his prayers
in obtaining your mercy.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Taken from the Benedictine Supplement:
Proper Masses for the Use of the Benedictine Confederation, 1975)
This post is adapted from my book, From Season to Season: A Book of Saintly Wisdom.



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