Today, 27 Mar 2012, is the feast day of St Rupert of Salzburg, Abbot, Bishop and Apostle of Bavaria and Austria. In a few short years it will be 1300 years after his death, but devotion to him and appreciation for his evangelising work still lives on.
Information about St Rupert starts from his time as bishop of Worms. According to the story of his life written in Latin, Rupert was a bishop worthy of the name ; someone filled with heavenly virtue, gifts of preaching and administration, dedicated to prayer, fasting and service of the poor. Word got around that there was a holy bishop in Worms, and people came to listen to him and seek his counsel. Sadly the people of Worms didn’t realise what a treasure they had in their midst and began to persecute Rupert until they forced him into exile.
Being forced out of your own diocese must have hurt, but it seems to have been permitted by God so that Rupert could be detached from his former diocese and then sent by Him on to a far more fruitful mission. * Theodo, the Duke of Bavaria had heard of Rupert’s holy reputation, so Theodo sent his men to ask Rupert to visit him and preach to him about faith in Jesus. This Rupert did with alacrity around the year 697. Not only the Duke, but his nobles and subjects were persuaded by Rupert’s preaching – rejecting idols and accepting baptism. With the Duke’s permission Rupert then left Regensburg and began a tour up and down the Danube River preaching, encouraging and baptizing.
To get the whole mission set up on a more permanent footing Rupert needed to set up an episcopal see, and build a cathedral. Guided by God, Rupert decided that the ruined Roman city of Juvavian was the place to do this, renaming it Salzburg. Wanting this episcopal see to also be a powerhouse of prayer and worship, Rupert also built a monastery there. Everything was placed under the patronage of St Peter the Apostle. Duke Theodo happily agreed to this scheme, granted land for Church use, and then he and his successor gifted Rupert and his band with building funds and more land over the years. Further missionary journeys into the region were undertaken, each one bringing new souls into the kingdom of God.
Becoming aware that the work of evangelisation was not progressing effectively because the women of the region had no holy role models to look up to, St Rupert sought out his niece St Erendruda and brought her back to his diocese to set up a religious order for women. Under her rule many young women joined her in religious life.
St Rupert, now that he had set up everything on a firm foundation for the future, was given a presentiment of his death by God. Wisely he appointed a successor. After throwing his all into preaching, fasting, prayers and works of charity for Lent, Rupert was overcome with exhaustion and fever on the day of the Resurrection following the celebration of the solemn liturgy. Surrounded by his priests and monks his holy soul winged its way to God in the year 718. It is a great tribute to St Rupert that both the monastery and the convent are still in active existence in our times.
To read more of the life of St Rupert and of his holy niece St Erendruda, go to www.voskrese.info/spl/st.robert.html
St Rupert of Salzburg, holy leader of God’s people and apostle of Bavaria and Austria, pray for us.
* In parish and in church life it is not unusual for a ministry to end in tears (eg music, sacristan, warden, children’s ministry etc). It is so easy for those who have made a start in an adult conversion to get caught up in ‘my ministry’ and to identify too much with it. Purification is painful, but necessary, if we are to learn to serve God on His terms and not on ours. Quite often this painful detachment is the only way that He is able to close one ministry door in order to invite us into another more fruitful ministry in His service. So if this has been your experience, don’t be discouraged, and look for great good, and new opportunities, to grow out of those tears and that time of fallowness. Ask Him, too, for the grace to forgive all of those human protagonists of your agony.