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Benno of Meissen, St.


Bishop; b. according to legend, Hildesheim, Germany, 1010; d. c. 1106. Benno, son of a noble Saxon family, became a canon attached to the imperial collegiate church in Goslar and then bishop of Meissen (1066). He was imprisoned by Emperor Henry IV in 1075 and 1076, apparently for not supporting the emperor during the revolt of the Saxon nobles, but was later released. In 1077, when Henry IV was excommunicated and deposed by Pope gregory vii during the investiture struggle, Benno took part in the election of Rudolph of Swabia as German king in Henry's stead. He was removed from his see by the prelates of the imperial party at the synod of Mainz in 1085, but restored in 1088 on the recommendation of the antipope guibert of ravenna (Clement III), to whom he had appealed on a trip to Italy (108586). After 1097 he recognized urban ii as legitimate pope. He seems to have earned the title "Apostle of the Wends" by preaching to the Slavonic tribes in his diocese. His cult was established in 1285, when his relics were honored in the reconstructed cathedral of Meissen. Contemporary chronicles record many miracles at his tomb. His canonization in 1523 and the solemn exposition of his relics in 1524 evoked much protest, including a brochure by Martin Luther entitled "Wider den neuen Abgott und alten Teufel, der zu Meissen soll erhoben werden" (Against the New Idol and the Old Devil about to be set up at Meissen). To prevent desecration, his relics were transferred to Bavaria in 1576. Since 1580 they have been in the cathedral of Munich. Benno is patron of Munich, of the bishopric of Meissen, and of old Bavaria. In iconography he is represented with a fish holding in its mouth the keys of the cathedral of Meissen. He is patron of fishermen and drapers, and is invoked for rain.

Feast: June 16.

Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum June 4:121186. For more reliable information see articles by o. langer in Mitteilungen des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Meissen 1.3 (1884) 7095; 1.5(1886) 138; 2.2 (1888) 99144; 7.1 (1906) 122125. a. hauck, Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands (Berlin-Leipzig 1958) 3:841850. a. bigelmair, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 7:136365. a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum (Metten 193338) 2:320.

[m. f. mccarthy]

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