Today is the feast day of Saint Hermann Joseph. Ora pro nobis.
Saint Hermann (AKA Little Hermann) was born in Cologne, Germany. As a child he demonstrated great piety and devotion, picturing himself as a loyal and brave knight, and the Virgin Mary as his lady fair. He demonstrated great strength and presence, as was adept at both athletic and mechanical tasks. Always calm, dignified, and reserved—even as a child—he was a sensitive and sensibly boy whose eyes “gave off little sparks” according to those who knew him. He demonstrated consistent discipline in weaning himself from the temptations of the world, instead focusing on spiritual pursuits.
Saint Herman from his earliest years, was a devoted client of the Mother of God. As a little child he used to spend all his playtime in the church at Cologne before a statue of Mary, where he received many favors. One bitter winter day, as little Herman was coming barefooted into church, his heavenly Mother, appearing to him, asked him lovingly why his feet were bare in such cold weather. Alas! dear Lady, he said, it is because my parents are so poor. She pointed to a stone, telling him to look beneath it; and there he found four silver pieces, with which the family could buy shoes. He did not forget to return and thank Her. She enjoined him to go to the same spot in all his wants, and disappeared. Never did the supply fail him; but his comrades, moved by a different spirit, could find nothing.
At the age of 12, Hermann gave up the world, and entered the Premonsratensian monastery at Steinfeld, Germany. Given his young age, the monastery authorities decided that Hermann should complete his studies at the order’s school in Friesland prior to admittance. This he did, and upon completion, returned to Steinfeld and was given the name Hermann Joseph, due to his love of the Holy Family. Of course, he protested this name, citing his inadequacies as compared to the earthly father of Jesus. But Our Lady took a fancy to the name, and in a vision put upon his finger a wedding ring to confirm that he was her spiritual spouse. On the basis of this vision, Herman added “Joseph” to his other Christian name. (4)
Eventually, Hermann was assigned to the duty of sacristan, allowing him to express his piety and devotion through art. He was further assigned to minister to the Cistercian nuns at a nearby convent.
Saint Hermann Joseph underwent a final ordeal prior to his death, the likes of which he had never previously experienced. Spiders and flies seemed to invade his cell, crawling upon him and terrifying him. The presence of a priest dispelled the nightmare, and Hermann Joseph died in peace. In accordance with his wishes, he was buried in the Cistercian convent at Hoven, where he had ministered to the sisters. His body was later exhumed and returned to Steinfeld, during which time it was found to be perfectly incorrupt.
St. Herman Joseph was canonized in 1958, the last saint to be canonized by His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. (1)
Image: The Vision of the Blessed Hermann Joseph, Artist: Sir Anthony van Dyck, circa: (1629 – 1630) (6)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff