Günther of Niederaltaich, Bl.

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Monk; b. probably 955; d. Hartmanice, Bohemia, Oct. 9, 1045. A Thuringian nobleman, perhaps of the family of the counts of Schwarzburg, he was more a pagan than a Christian in his youth, but under the spiritual direction of godard of hildesheim he began to reform his life. After a journey to Rome he entered the benedictine abbey of hersfeld as a conversus, and he later received the tonsure in the Abbey of niederaltaich. He was invited to become abbot at Hersfeld or Göllingen but with a few companions turned instead to a hermit's life in the Bavarian forest. He founded Rinchnach, as affiliate of Niederaltaich, and, penetrating even farther through the Bohemian forest, opened up the Golden Ladder, the trade route from Passau to Bohemia. His hermitage became the goal of many pilgrims. He was an adviser to three emperors, a missionary to the Lusatians, and a friend of stephen i of Hungary, in whose territory he founded several monasteries. He obtained the release of German prisoners by his intercession with Duke Bretislav of Bohemia (d. 1055), and he mediated difficulties between Bretislav and henry iii. He became the patron of the Abbey of Brevnov, where his tomb was located until 1420, when it was destroyed by the hussites.

Feast: Oct. 9.

Bibliography: j. mabillon, Acta sanctorum ordinis S. Benedicti, 9 v. (Paris 16681701; 2d ed. Venice 173340) 8:419428. e. heufelder, 1000 Jahre St. Gunther, Festschrift (Cologne 1955). a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum: Die Heiligen und Seligen des Benediktinerorderns und seiner Zweige, 4 v. (Metten 193338) 3:155159.

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