There come times in the history of the Church when saints congregate. A saintly man rears five saints as children, or a saintly missionary priest or bishop bequeaths many saints who were their students.
In this case of Saint Gotthard of Hildesheim, one of the many Saints of Germany, many of whom have Benedictine provenance, we find one of these herds saintly sheep and shepherds.
Try Saint and Emperor of Germany Henry II, his wife, Saint and Empress Cunegunde, looking after the faithful in their empire by nominating a holy monk, Saint Gotthard, to be the bishop of a recently vacated diocesan see.
Here’s some of the story of Saint Gotthard of Hildesheim, from America Needs Fatima:
“Gothard was born in the Bavarian village of Reichersdorf. Ratmund, his father, worked for the Canons of the neighboring Benedictine Abbey of Nieder-Altaich.
Educated by the Benedictines, the young Bavarian attracted the attention of the bishops of Passau and Regensburg, and the favor of the Archbishop of Salzburg. The latter made the studious youth Provost of the Canons at age nineteen.
When the Benedictine rule was restored in Nieder-Altaich, Gothard, by now a priest, became a monk in the abbey. He went on to become abbot, his installation being honored by the presence of St. Henry, then Duke of Bavaria, and later Emperor, and who greatly esteemed the holy abbot. St. Cunegunde, the wife of the saintly Emperor, embroidered a belt for Gothard, which was long venerated as a relic.
When the see of Hildesheim became vacant, St. Henry nominated Gothard to the post, to which the saint submitted complying with the wishes of his monarch and the support of the clergy.
Despite being already sixty years old, he threw himself into the work of his diocese with the zest and energy of a young man. He restored and built many churches, fostered education, and built a hospice for his beloved sick in the outskirts of Hildesheim.” (Read the whole story here; most of it is quoted above.)
If you’re looking for an example of a holy, hardworking, and heroic bishop in our chaotic times, Saint Gotthard of Hildesheim is a great place to start. His acquaintance with holy and hardworking rulers, who understood their role as the secular shepherds of the souls under their jurisdiction, only underscores the wonderful example at work; holy rulers and holy bishops make quite a combo.
Saints Henry II, Cunegunde, and Gotthard; ora pro nobis!