Next Tuesday, January 21, is the solemnity of St. Meinrad,
patron saint of Saint Meinrad Archabbey.
The Saint Meinrad story is about the life of a Benedictine monk
who dedicated his life to prayer and compassion; a location that
becomes a place of prayer, work and learning; and a tradition that
lives on through the monks, alumni, students and others who
continue its legacy of holiness and hospitality.
Born about 800 in what is now Germany, Meinrad was a Benedictine
monk who lived as a hermit for much of his life, dedicated to
prayer and solitude. Even as a hermit, his reputation as a wise and
holy man led people to seek him out for counsel and prayer. Despite
his desire for solitude, the monk graciously attended to his
guests' needs, physical as well as spiritual.
In 861, two robbers came to Meinrad's hermitage, believing he
had treasures hidden there - gifts from the people he had
counseled. In spite of a premonition of his impending death,
Meinrad invited the robbers in and offered them food and drink.
The men murdered him and fled in fear without taking anything.
Meinrad's death earned him the title of "Martyr of
Meinrad's hermitage became the site of the Abbey of Einsiedeln
in the 11th century. When, in 1854, Einsiedeln established a
foundation in America, the name chosen for the new abbey was Saint
Nearly 1,000 years after Meinrad's death, two monks from
Einsiedeln were sent to America to assess the feasibility of a new
foundation. They purchased 160 acres in Spencer County, Indiana,
with the goal to minister to the German-speaking Catholics of the
area and begin a seminary. In 1854, the monks moved into a small
log cabin and began their work.
Although those early monks faced many hardships, within a decade
they had opened a secondary school, begun their ministry to local
parishes and purchased a used printing press that led to the start
of Abbey Press.
Today, the Benedictine monks of Saint Meinrad carry on the
tradition they inherited from their namesake and their
The value of prayer as a primary work of the monastery
The educational work of the community, fostered by the monastic
The cooperative venture with others, who are not monks, but
share in the work and prayer of the community
The natural beauty and peacefulness of the place
The hospitality that has become synonymous with Saint
The tradition of Saint Meinrad is more about the future than the
past. It is about seeking and finding God, about worshipping God in
spirit and in truth, about service to any who are in need, about
hospitality to those who journey. It is about how the Kingdom of
God transforms us into the image of the Lord.
Saint Meinrad's tradition focuses on spreading the Word of God
to others. Through its work of educating men for the priesthood and
the permanent diaconate, and men and women for lay ministry, its
retreat programs, pastoral assistance to parishes, and sharing its
resources with others, Saint Meinrad each day writes another
chapter in the story begun more than a millennium ago.