St Engelbert of Cologne

Bishop and Martyr (entered heaven this day in 1225)

Dear Giselle,

I wish I could describe how sad your last note made me.  But in all honesty, it’s nothing compared with how MAD it made me.  It’s a good thing I’m locked up here, or I might find myself doing regrettable things to your persecutors.  Your patience and courage far surpass mine. If I had suffered such constant ridicule, ostracism, and subtle injustice simply for making sure to get the Catholic viewpoint accurately represented in the student newspaper, I doubt I would be able to keep up the struggle.  Your fortitude, in fact, is reminiscent of today’s saint.

He too risked his reputation and even his life to propagate the truth and all the benefits thereof.  He didn’t begin as young as you have, however. In fact, although he was educated in Christian schools, he surrendered his youth to a rather dissolute lifestyle – he was renowned for his good looks, quick mind, and wild ways.  His first “real job” was going to war for on behalf of his cousin. The war was between two archbishops (you’ll recall that at this time in Germany bishops were still secular rulers as well as spiritual ones). He was a hardy fighter, and showed little reverence for church or law, and after threatening to attack the Holy Roman Emperor, he was excommunicated, along with his cousin.

He repented, however, and publicly submitted to the Pope, after which he joined another crusade, this times against heretics in France.  Having vented his passions, he was appointed Archbishop of Cologne (northern Germany). With the grace of God, he was able to channel his notable talents and volcanic energy into fruitful campaigns for discipline among the clergy, regularity among churches, allegiance of nobles, and general respect for order, law, and morality.  He also fought a couple more wars, but he gradually gained the love and reverence of his people, who benefited from the prosperity and justice his rule afforded. He become so well respected, in fact, that the Emperor Frederick II entrusted him with the care and tutelage of young King Henry VII, a charge he carried out exemplarily.

But not everyone thought well of his reformed and reforming character; he had many and powerful enemies among the ambitious and worldly nobility.  Among whom was another cousin, Count Frederick of Isenberg, who resented the holy bishop’s interference in his harassment of the famous nuns of Essen.  The sanguinary cousin and some cronies ambushed the prelate on the road, putting an end to his service with 47 stab wounds.

I think tactics have changed over the centuries, and you probably won’t have to face ambush and knifings, but even so, you can count on my prayers (and St Engelbert’s) as you continue bearing Christ’s banner amid the battles on campus.

Your loving uncle, Eddy

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