« Bennett, William Henry Benno Benoist (Benoit), Élie »


BENNO: Bishop of Meissen; b. at Hildesheim or Goslar 1010; d. at Meissen June 18, 1108, according to the traditional accounts. The first certain fact in his life is that he was a canon of Goslar. He was made bishop of Meissen in 1066, and appears as a supporter of the Saxon insurrection of 1073, though Lambert of Hersfeld and other contemporary authorities attribute little weight to his share in it. Henry IV imprisoned him, however, but released him in 1078 on his taking an oath of fidelity, which he did not keep. He appeared again in the ranks of the king's enemies, and was accordingly deprived of his bishopric by the Synod of Mainz in 1085. Benno betook himself to Guibert, the antipope supported by Henry as Clement III, and by a penitent acknowledgment of his offenses obtained from him both absolution and a letter of commendation to Henry, on the basis of which he was restored to his see. He promised, apparently, to use his influence for peace with the Saxons, but again failed to keep his promise, returning in 1097 to the papal party and recognizing Urban II as the rightful pope. With this he disappears from authentic history; there is no evidence to support the later stories of his missionary activity and zeal for church-building and for ecclesiastical music. His elevation to the fame of sainthood seems to have been due partly to the need of funds to complete the cathedral of Meissen, and partly to the wish to have a local or diocesan saint. He was officially canonized by Adrian VI in 1523, as a demonstration against the Lutheran movement, which Luther acknowledged by a fierce polemical treatise. His relics were solemnly dug up and venerated in 1524; but as the Reformation progressed they were no longer appreciated in Meissen, and Albert V of Bavaria obtained permission to remove them in 1578 to Munich, of which city Benno is considered the patron saint.

(A. Hauck.)

Bibliography: Several early accounts in prose and verse of Benno's life and miracles were collected in ASB, June, iii, 148–231. Consult: O. Langer, Bischof Benno von Meissen, in Mittheilungen des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Meissen, i, 3 (1884), pp. 70–95, i, 5 (1886), pp. 1–38, ii, 2 (1888), pp. 99–144; E. Machatschek, Geschichte der Bischofe des Hochstiftes Meissen, pp. 65–94, Dresden, 1884; R. Doebuer, Aktenstücke zur Geschichte der Vita Bennonis, in Neues Archiv für sächsische Geschichte, vii, 131–144, Dresden, 1886; K. P. Will, Sanct Benno, Bischof von Meissen, Dresden, 1887.

« Bennett, William Henry Benno Benoist (Benoit), Élie »
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