st.Meinrad-Benedictine hermit and martyr

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Feast Day : January 21



Also known as: Meginratus



Meinrad was born in Solgen, Swabia, to the Hohenzollern nobility. He entered the Benedictine order and went to teach at a small monastery in Bollingen near Zurich. He had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He decided he wished to become a hermit, and received permission to do so in 828. He moved to a hut in the Dark Wood on the slopes of Mt. Etzel. According to legend, he adopted and tamed two ravens (by some accounts, crows). For seven years, he lived there and attracted many pilgrims. The crowds became too much, and so Meinrad went deeper into the woods. He found a spring and built a hut and a chapel, in which he placed a cherished statue of Mary. He would pray there, joined by his two ravens. He was again discovered, and pilgrims made their way to him. On January 21, 861, while Meinrad was saying Mass for the feast of St. Agnes, he received a divine revelation that this was to be his last Mass. He had no sooner finished than two strangers appeared. They had heard about the crowds of pilgrims and had come looking for jewels and valuables to steal. Meinrad welcomed them and set out food and wine for them. When they discovered no treasures, the men clubbed Meinrad to death while the ravens attacked them in vain. They dragged his body to the bed of leaves in his hut. Two candles mysteriously lit by themselves, and a wonderful smell permeated the hut. Terrified, the murderers fled to Zurich. The ravens followed relentlessly, screeching until at last the murderers were apprehended and confessed. According to lore, the birds hovered over the scaffolding when the men were hanged. Meinrad’s remains were taken to the abbey of Reichenau near Constance, but were returned to the site of his hut in 1039. The abbey of Einsiedeln was built at the spot where Meinrad built his hut and chapel, and remains a popular pilgrimage site. In 948, St. Conrad had a remarkable vision there.

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