August 8 – They hated him because he enforced celibacy of the clergy

August 6, 2018

Bl. Altmann

Stained glass window of Bl. Altmann in Saint Stephen parish church in Upper Austria. Photo by Wolfgang Sauber.

The friend of Gregory VII and Anselm, conspicuous in the contest of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, as Bishop of Passau and Papal Legate. He was born at Paderborn about the beginning of the eleventh century, presided over the school there, was chaplain at the court of Henry III, and then became Bishop of Passau. The Bollandists find that, because of these successive occupations, it is impossible to make him out a Benedictine monk. As a Bishop he was famous for his care of the poor, his vigour in the reformation of relaxed monasteries, the building of new ones, and the splendour with which he invested divine worship — Henry IV himself contributing lavishly to enrich the church of Passau, chiefly through the intervention of the Empresses Agnes and Bertha, his wife and mother — and finally for the opposition which he aroused in enforcing Gregory’s decree of celibacy of the clergy. With the help of Henry the recalcitrants succeeded in driving him from his see. He was recalled, however, shortly after the death of Hermann the intruder, at whose death-bed he is said to have appeared. Hermann begged for absolution, and asked not to be buried as a Bishop.

Relics of Bl. Altmann of Passau in the Church of Göttweig Abbey. Photo by Bwag.

Altmann’s second possession of his see lasted only a short time. He was again expelled, and died in exile ten years after. He was one of the four South German bishops who sided with Gregory, and defied Henry, in refusing to take part in the Diet of Worms to depose the Pope.

Acta SS., II, August; BARING-GOULD, Lives of the Saints, 8 August (London, 1872).

T.J. CAMPBELL (Catholic Encyclopedia)


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