Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blessed Emma

Note:  Not much is known about Saint Emma of Regensburg.  The following text tells more about her family than about her personally, but by reading it one gains an understanding of some the personal crosses she bore during her lifetime.

Saint Emma and her family

Ludwig II, also known as “The German” was born around 805.  In as early as 817 he was designated King of Bavaria.  In 825 he took office in Regensburg.  With pride and preference he referred to himself as King of Bavaria, which he loved and favored as he considered Bavaria to be his homeland.  He celebrated all high feasts almost exclusively in Regensburg, where he had a chapel built in honor of Our Lady, known today as “Alte Kapelle” [Old Chapel].

He was consistent in his consideration of the mighty deeds of the old princes.  In God’s house, he was focused and attentive. Not only did he listen to the holy songs, he also heeded them in his faithful temperament.  In Frankfurt he had the destroyed churches rebuilt, expanded and adorned.  He was very generous toward the poor.  When he had several decaying churches in Regensburg and Frankfurt dismantled — in an effort to rebuild and expand them — treasures of gold were found.  He distributed these to the needy. From his royal treasury he sent money to support Christians in Africa and Asia, who had asked for his help. He was incredibly smart in matters of avoiding enemy attacks or of finding out about the intentions of the commanders.  He applied the law with great fervor.  He examined legal arguments very diligently.  He absolutely hated greed and bribery involving judges and he punished them severely. No man who cheated him, went away unpunished.  He placed in charge over the provinces only to those men who did not love money.  Nobody was able to gain his favor through false reverence or by means of gifts.  Only few men ever even dared to try to pursue a government or church position by improper means, money or lust for power.  He never again entrusted anyone again with a public office, who had been found guilty of gaining a position by improper means, whether through a hunger for power or through gifts, or pressure.  He used to say, “While the fox may change his coat, he will not change his mindset.  Such men would always be more aware of the danger than the mercy they had been shown and would never be true servants of their office.” He showed particular concern for suits of armor.  He preferred those to be made of iron rather than gold.  He forbade particularly his soldiers the wearing of gold and silk.  If he saw one of his solders clad in silk or gold, he would say to him:  “Listen, you fool of mortals! Isn’t it sufficient for you to find your own end?  Do you also wish to hand over your belongings to the enemies and enrich them, so that they can fight us even longer and can oppose us even more easily?”  He decreed that the wearing of foreign clothing be forbidden.  He was strict in handling the laws on expenditures.  His patriarchal frugality in regard to food and clothing was rivaled by his extreme thriftiness and temperance.  He generally did not consume meat or similar foods.

This man was the prince to whom Emma, daughter of the mighty Bavarian Count Welf and his wife Eigilwich, a noble Saxon woman gave her hand in marriage in 827.  Emma, like her sister, Judith who was the second wife of Ludwig “The Pious” was extremely beautiful and, what is worth even more, virtuous. The marriage was celebrated in Franconia, however, the exact city or imperial region is unknown.  The first fruit of this marriage was a daughter, Hildegard, born in 828.  Six more children followed: three sons and three daughters (Karlmann, Ludwig, Karl, Irmengard, Gisla and Berta).

Queen Emma raised her children “in great care in faith and virtue and, in particular, in the fear of the Lord.  They learned to respect men and women dedicated to God as trustworthy people and friends of God and they obeyed the bishops and all servants of Holy Mother Church as they would their father.”  In 833 her husband had exchanged the Obermünster (high cathedral) in Regensburg against the one at Mondsee with Bishop Baturich of Regensburg.  When he gave the cathedral into Emma’s care, she expanded it and enriched it with many gifts.  In addition, she herself would enjoy giving generous alms.  As a lasting remembrance of this faithful and charitable Queen, it is said that every year at the anniversary of the Queen’s death, the young maidens dedicated to God would distribute meat and bread in bare feet in the high cathedral, because even Queen Emma did this charitable service in her bare feet.  In late 874 she was afflicted with a nerve stroke and repented of the small mistakes in her faithful life on an extended sickbed. She died on January 31, 876 and was buried in Regensburg.  Today there are differing opinions whether her grave is found in the high cathedral or in Saint Emmeram Basilica.  King Ludwig, “the German,” survived his wife by a mere seven months, whose virtue was acclaimed by her own and successive generations.  On August 28 he died in Frankfurt am Main and was buried in the monastic church at Lorch in the Upper Rhine region, where Duke Tasssilo, the founder of the monastery at Frauenchiemsee, had also been laid to rest.

Hildegard, the oldest daughter of Ludwig The German and Queen Emma, initially served as Abbess of the small convent for nuns in Münsterschwarzach in the Würzburg region.  Her Aunt Theodorada, a daughter of Charlemagne and Queen Fastrada, had given this cloister to her for the duration of her life, so that the Church in Würzburg would become its owner after her death.  However, her father decided on a more splendid position for her.  He himself gifted this Court as well as the Uri land and Albis Forest to the small monastery dedicated to Saints Felix and Regula on the Zurich Maierhof.  This extravagant design would allow for the Foundation to become a suitable place for the daughters of the best families to congregate, who were dedicated to God.  He transferred this enriched foundation to his daughter, Hildegard, by means of an official Certificate.  For only a few years, Hildegard was the Abbess of this Zurich Monastery, which soon had more than twenty members.  She had asked and her father had granted to her convent the beautiful Court at Tham near Lake Zug.  She had begun construction of a beautiful church for her abbey, when she died on December 23, 856 at the youthful age of a mere 28 years.

The place of birth of any of the seven royal children is unknown.  Since however, the inscription on Irmengard’s grave names specifically “Francia” (the old Franconia), Bavaria (Bojoaria) can under no circumstances be given as the place of birth for the child favored by God.  But where exactly within the boundaries of the large Franconia her bassinette may have stood, whether in Frankfurt or in Aachen or somewhere in Aquitania, this is totally unknown.  Ludwig the German is said to have predestined his daughter to monastic life, in an effort to avoid that her hand be given as part of the ambitious plans of the great lords.  Dümmler even says he insisted she take this path.  We, however, absolutely do not believe that she was in need of any pressure to move toward a spiritual state of life, since the faithful education of the royal children by their mother most certainly consisted of a rich soil on which decisions toward a more fulfilled lifestyle could come to fruition.  At any rate, their lives in the monastery are plenty of proof that the daughters faithfully fulfilled the wishes of their father.  By the way, Ratpert of Saint Gallen saw fit to emphasize in the beautiful inscription on the grave of Abbess Hildegard that she offered her soul to God completely of her own accord:  Mentem sponte suam voverat illa Deo.

Source:  Blessed Irmengard of Chiemsee, Virgin of the Order of Saint Benedict, Chapter I, Family, Ludwig “The German” and his wife, Irmengard’s siblings.
According to sources researched by M. Walburga Baumann, O.S.B.
Munich, 1922. Publisher: J. Pfeiffer (D. Hafner)
Translated from the German by Margret Setcavage

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all the information on Blessed Emma. We celebrate our daughter, Emma's Name Day every year and this is very useful. God bless you.