It’s easy to take things for granted when we see them every week. Let’s take the next couple of weeks to explore the Saints of St. Mary’s Basilica found in our stained glass windows. Together let’s rediscover our saintly companions on our journey of faith. Today we visit St. Henry.
Who is St. Henry?
St. Henry II, was a German King, and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1014. He was married, but had no children. He was ardent for the reform of the Church, took part in synods, founded monasteries, appointed bishops of integrity. Together with his wife he lived a semi-monastic life of prayer and discipline. Visit Franciscan Media, a ministry of the Franciscan Friars (OFM), for a short audio and written reflection on the history St. Henry.
Saints and their Attributes
Artists have developed standard ways of representing saints, allowing their images to be ‘read’ to reveal their identities. Artists often show saints with particular symbols, known as attributes. These attributes are reminders of how a saint was martyred, while others recall important actions or events from their life. Through attributes we are able to identify the saints and tell their stories.
What are St. Henry’s attributes?
St. Henry II is most often portrayed in kingly robes with a crown as in the example of our stained glass window at St. Mary’s Basilica. The other two most common attributes of St. Henry II are a scepter topped with a dove and holding the cathedral of Bamberg.
Holding a Scepter topped with a Dove:
As German King and Holy Roman Emperor, he helped Pope Benedict VIII quell disturbances in Rome with the goal to establish a stable peace in Europe; thus he is depicted with a scepter topped with a dove. The dove represents the Holy Spirit and his call to rule through mercy and peace.
Holding a Cathedral:
He built a cathedral in Bamberg, which later became an important religious site; he established monasteries, arranged for the care of the poor, and supported the religious reforms of his friend St. Odilo of Cluny and the other monks of the monastery at Cluny in France.
Patron Saint of:
Those Rejected by Religious Orders
Tradition Prayer to St. Henry II:
Lord, you filled Saint Henry with your love
and raised him from the cares of an earthly kingdom
to eternal happiness in heaven.
In the midst of the changes of this world,
may his prayers keep us free from sin
and help us on our way towards you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
To schedule a group docent tour to explore the history, architecture, art, sacred symbols and mission of St. Mary’s Basilica please contact us.