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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

July 2

St. Otho, Bishop of Bamberg, Confessor

HE was a native of Swabia, in Germany, and being a clergyman eminent for piety and learning, was chosen by the emperor Henry IV. to attend his sister Judith in quality of chaplain when she was married to Boleslas III. duke of Poland, that state remaining deprived of the royal dignity 1 from the year 1079 till it was restored in 1295, in favour of Premislas II. After the death of that princess, Otho returned, and was made by Henry IV. his chancellor. That prince caused the seals and crosses of every deceased bishop and great abbot to be delivered to him, and he sold them to whom he pleased. This notorious simony and oppression of the Church was zealously condemned by the pope, in opposition to whom the emperor set up the antipope Guibert. Otho laboured to bring his prince to sentiments of repentance and submission, and refused to approve his schism or other crimes. Notwithstanding which, so great was the esteem which the emperor had for his virtue, that resolving to make choice at least of one good bishop, he nominated him bishop of Bamberg in 1103. The saint, notwithstanding the schism, went to Rome and received his confirmation together with the pall from Pope Paschal II. He laboured to extinguish the schism, and to obviate the mischiefs which it produced; and for this purpose he displayed his eloquence and abilities in the diet at Ratisbon in 1104. Henry V. succeeding his father in 1106, continued to foment the schism; yet inherited the esteem of his predecessor for our saint, though he always adhered to the holy see, and was in the highest credit with all the popes of his time; so strongly does virtue command respect even in its adversaries, and such is the power of meekness in disarming the fiercest tyrants. St. Otho joined always with the functions of his charge the exercises of an interior life, in which he was an admirable proficient. He made many pious foundations, calling them inns which we erect on our road to eternity.  1
  Boleslas IV. duke of Poland, son of that Boleslas who had married the sister of Henry IV. having succeeded his elder brother Ladislas II. and conquered part of Pomerania, entreated St. Otho to undertake a mission among the idolaters of that country. The good bishop having settled his own diocess in good order, and obtained of Pope Honorius II. a commission for that purpose, took with him a considerable number of zealous priests and catechists, and passed through Poland into Prussia, and thence into eastern Pomerania. He was met by Uratislas II. duke of Upper Pomerania, who received the sacrament of baptism with the greater part of his people in 1124. St. Otho returned to Bamberg for Easter the following year, having appointed priests every where to attend the new converts, and finish the work he had so happily begun. The towns of Stetin and Julin having again relapsed into idolatry, St. Otho, with a second blessing of Pope Honorius II. returned into Pomerania in 1128, brought those cities back to the faith, and through innumerable hardships and dangers carried the light of the gospel into Noim, and other remote barbarous provinces. He returned again to the care of his own flock, amidst which he died the death of the saints on the 30th of June, 1139. He was buried on the 2d of July, on which day he is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology. He was canonized by Clement III. in 1189. The rich shrine which contains his sacred remains is preserved in the electoral treasury at Hanover. See Thesaurus Reliquiarum Electoris Brunswico-Luneburgensis, folio, printed at Hanover in 1713. See also the accurate life of this saint in the latter editions of Surius, and in Acta Sanctorum, by the Bollandists, t. 1. Julii.  2
Note 1. On account of the murder of St. Stanislas, slain by Boleslas II. [back]