Saint Wolfgang, Bishop


Saint Wolfgang, Bishop

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October 31

Today is the feast day of Saint Wolfgang.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Wolfgang was born about 934; died at the village of Pupping in upper Austria, 31 October, 994. The name Wolfgang is of early German origin. St. Wolfgang was one of the three brilliant stars of the tenth century, St. Ulrich, St. Conrad, and St. Wolfgang, which illuminated the early medieval period of Germany with the undying splendour of their acts and services.

St. Wolfgang was born of a family of Swabian counts of Pfullingen (Mon. Germ. His.: Script., X, 53). When seven years old he had an ecclesiastic as tutor at home; later he attended the celebrated monastic school on the Reichenau. Here he formed a strong friendship with Henry, brother of Bishop Poppo of Würzburg, whom he followed to Würzburg in order to attend at the cathedral school there the lectures of the noted Italian grammarian, Stephen of Novara. After Henry was made Archbishop of Trier in 956, he called his friend to Trier.

Wolfgang became a teacher in Trier cathedral school, and also laboured for the reform of the archdiocese, notwithstanding the enmity with which his efforts were met. Wolfgang’s residence at Trier greatly influenced his monastic and ascetic tendencies, as here he came into connection with the great reformatory monastery of the tenth century, St. Maximin of Trier, where he made the acquaintance of Ramwold, the teacher of St. Adalbert of Prague. After the death (964) of Archbishop Henry of Trier, Wolfgang entered the Order of St. Benedict in the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln, Switzerland, and was ordained priest by St. Ulrich in 968. (2)

Wolfgang took his vows and was ordained by Saint Ulrich. His first priestly mission was to Hungary, but yielded nothing but disappointment. However, despite the poor outcome, he was appointed as bishop of Regensburg by Emperor Otto II and Saint Rambold. While Wolfgang would have preferred to retire to a quiet monastic life, he obediently accepted the position. Contrary to the practices of the day, Wolfgang continued to dress in his monk’s robes and declined the live of riches and privilege typical of bishops at that time. (1)

At the request of St. Ulrich and at the desire of the Emperor Otto the Great, St. Wolfgang, according to the abbey annals, was “sent to Magyars” as the most suitable man to evangelize them. He was followed by other missionaries sent by Bishop Piligrim of Nassau, under whose jurisdiction the new missionary region came. After the death of Bishop Michael of Ratisbon (23 September, 972) Bishop Piligrim obtained from the emperor the appointment of Wolfgang as Bishop of Ratisbon (Christmas, 972). Wolfgang’s services in this new position were of the highest importance, not only for the diocese, but also for the cause of civilization. As Bishop of Ratisbon, Wolfgang became the tutor of Emperor St. Henry II, who learned from him the principles which governed his saintly and energetic life. Poppe, son of Margrave Luitpold, Archbishop of Trier (1016), and Tagino, Archbishop of Magdeburg (1004-1012), also had him as their teacher.

Eventually, St. Wolfgang withdrew as a hermit to a solitary spot, now the Lake of St. Wolfgang, apparently on account of a political dispute, but probably in the course of a journey of inspection to the monastery of Mendsee which was under the direction of the bishops of Ratisbon. He was discovered by a hunter and brought back to Ratisbon. While travelling on the Danube to Pöchlarn in Lower Austria, he fell ill at the village of Pupping, which is between Efferding and the market town of Aschach near Linz, and at his request was carried into the chapel of St. Othmar at Pupping, where he died.

His body was taken up the Danube by his friends Count Aribo of Andechs and Archbishop Hartwich of Salzburg to Ratisbon, and was solemnly buried in the crypt of St. Emmeram. Many miracles were performed at his grave.  (2)

In 1054, Pope Saint Leo IX canonized Saint Wolfgang as a model of the bishop who is ready to correct as well as direct the flock entrusted to him. (1)

Image: Kirchenfenster von Wolfgang in der Pfarrkirche (4)

Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff




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