St. Benno of Meissen

June 16

 Born in Hildesheim, a city in central Germany, around 1010, Benno was the second son of Count Frederick of Bultenberg. As a young man, Benno was sent off to his uncle, Bernward, to be educated. Bernward was a bishop at the nearby city of Gildesheim. After completing his education, Benno stayed on until his uncle died. Soon afterward, he joined the monastery in Hildesheim. In 1066, Benno was named Bishop of Meissen. As a leading prelate in Saxony, Benno had to walk a tightrope between helping the people of Saxony and not arousing the displeasure of Henry IV, who for the past 10 years had served both as emperor and the king of Saxony. Benno favored Saxon resistance to the taxes and forced labor imposed by Henry IV, and was arrested for his defiance.

Upon his release from prison a year later, Benno supported Pope Gregory VII in the Pope's conflicts with King Henry IV: In keeping with long-standing feudal custom, Henry had invested a number of bishops and other Church officers in his domain. Denouncing this practice, Gregory nullified these investitures, thus setting off eight years of conflict between the two men. For his support of Pope Gregory, Benno was deposed as Bishop of Meissen in 1085. After spending several years as a missionary to the Slavs and Wends, Benno was reinstated as bishop by Guibert, the antipope who had been installed by Henry IV: The rightful Pope, Urban II, confirmed Benno's tenure in 1097.

Benno is said to have been well liked by the Saxons for his generosity to the poor and his generosity of time with his people. Benno died in 1106 and was canonized in 1523. Today, his relics rest in Munich.

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