Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Conrad, Bishop of Constance

detail of a statue of Saint Conrad of Constance, date and artist unknown; entrace of the minster in Constance, Germany; photographed on 14 January 2012 by joergens.mi; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Saint Conrad, who was greatly celebrated, in the tenth century, on account of his erudition and virtues, as well as for his miracles, was descended from the noble house of the Counts of Altorf. The pious and retired life he led from his early youth made him a general favorite. He studied the liberal arts and the higher branches of knowledge with so much success, that he deserves to be counted among the great men of his time. Noting, Bishop of Constance, a man who appreciated virtue and talent, received Conrad among the canons of his church, and often consulted him. In this office, Conrad strove to live still more virtuously than before. Towards God he was full of humility and reverence; towards his neighbor, kind and liberal: but towards himself, austere and without pity, constantly chastising his body with penances, and denying himself every comfort and recreation. In one word, his whole conduct was blameless and holy. He took special care of the poor and oppressed, procured them free access to the bishop, and used all his influence to second their requests. After the death of the provost of the Cathedral, Conrad was unanimously chosen as the most worthy to fill that office. He was raised to a still higher dignity on the death of Bishop Noting. Udalrich or Ulric, the holy bishop of Augsburg, being very solicitous for the welfare of the see of Constance, had ordained public prayers and a three days’ fast, that God would direct the choice of a successor to the late bishop; and when the day of election came, the assembled Canons requested him to give the first vote for the one whom he thought most worthy. Udalrich, without hesitation, gave his vote for Conrad. All present joined him, without further deliberation; and thus Conrad became bishop, although his consent was not obtained without difficulty. For forty-two years he governed his see to the great benefit and happiness of his flock. His first care was to satisfy God and his own conscience, by fulfilling the duties of his station. Those virtues which the holy Apostle desires in a bishop, he endeavored to acquire and to practice, and daily gave several hours to prayer. He delighted in devout discourse, and more than once he continued in it with Saint Udalrich, until far into the night, as he felt that it animated him to serve the Almighty with more zeal. But he was an enemy to all useless and still more to frivolous conversations; and endeavored, by preaching, instructing and exhorting, to keep his flock from sin and crime and to lead them to virtue. The beautiful example which he set before them by his own holy life, gave strength to his words. The honor of God he sought to increase, by building three magnificent churches. Three times he crossed the sea to visit the places hallowed by the foot-prints of the Lord. To comfort the poor, he built a hospital in the city, where, in honor of the Apostles, twelve poor persons were lodged and fed each day. Many other generous deeds which he performed we must omit for want of space, and we will only add, that God preserved the life of His faithful servant several times most miraculously, and glorified him before the world with wonderful graces. Among the latter were the gifts of miracles and of prophecy. As a proof of the latter, we find in his history the following incident: The holy bishop one day surprised a pious youth, named Gebhard, who had accidentally sat down in the Episcopal chair. Frightened at the sight of the prelate, the youth rose and ran away. Conrad, however, calling him back, said: “Gebhard, you hast taken my place too early, you wilt not take possession of it after me, but after my successor.” The word of the Saint was fulfilled. After his death, which took place in the 43d year of his administration, Gamenold was elected bishop, and after him, Gebhard. The tomb of Saint Conrad became the refuge of all who were infirm and afflicted.

Practical Considerations

Saint Conrad loved devout discourses and was an enemy to all useless, still more to all frivolous conversations. If you desire to avoid many sins, flee from vain, useless, unchaste, in a word, from sinful conversations, and seek opportunities of discoursing on pious subjects, that you may be animated to serve the Lord with greater zeal Saint Thomas of Aquin says: “Nature has given to unreasoning animals, hearing, sight, taste and smell; but language only to man, as a rational being; in order to teach us that speech is a mark of reason, and that it should be used with reason.” Now let me ask you; is it not against all reason that you speak seldom or never of God and divine subjects; and speak much and often of things which offend Him who gave you speech and preserved it to you? Is not this contrary to all reason? “God gave us mouth, eyes, and ears,” says Saint Chrysostom, “that we might serve Him with the same.” How shall we then be able to justify ourselves, when we do not use them to this end, but misuse them to offend the majesty of the Most High? Or, can it be reasonable to turn the means given us to serve God into means for offending Him?

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Conrad, Bishop of Constance”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 May 2018. Web. 18 January 2019. <>