Saints of the Day – Rupert of Salzburg

Saint Rupert of SalzburgArticle

(also known as Hrodbert, Robert, Rupprecht)

Died in Salzburg, Austria, on March 27, c. 710-720; feast day formerly March 27; feast of the translation of his relics is kept in Bavaria and Austria on September 25.

There have been varying opinions as to where Rupert was born and when (with variations of 100 years). While more reliable sources make him a Frankish nobleman, others, including Colgan insist he was an Irishman with the Gaelic name Robertach. From his youth he was renowned for his learning, extraordinary virtues, austerity, and charity that sought to impoverish himself to enrich the poor. People came from remote provinces to receive his advice. He would remove all their doubts and scruples, comfort the afflicted, cure the sick, and heal the disorders of souls. His virtuous life led to him being consecrated bishop of Worms, Germany, from where he began his missionary work in southern Bavaria and Austria. (One version says he was expelled by the pagans at Worms, others that he was simply a zealous, evangelical Christian.)

Rupert travelled to Regensburg (Ratisbon) with a small company about 697, perhaps with credentials from the French King Childebert III, or because Duke Theodo of Bavaria had heard of his reputation for miracles and invited him. They went to Duke Theodo, whose permission they needed to proceed. While Theodo was not a Christian, his sister, Bagintrude, is said to have been one. He agreed to listen to their preaching and was converted and baptized. Many of the leading men and women of the land followed the duke’s example and embraced Christianity, which had been preached there 200 years earlier by Saint Severinus of Noricum.

Instead of knocking down pagan temples, as many missionaries did, Rupert preferred to consecrate them as Christian churches. For example, those at Regensburg and Altötting were soon altered for Christian services. (It is said that the statue of the Blessed Mother at Altötting was brought there from Ireland by an Irishman named Rupert.) Where there was no suitable temple to adapt churches were built, and Regensburg became primarily Christian. God confirmed Rupert’s preaching by many miracles. Soon the missionary work met with such success that many more helpers from Franconia were needed to meet the spiritual needs of Rupert’s converts.

The group continued down the Danube, converting still more. After Ratisbon, the capital, the next seat of his labors was Laureacum, now called Lorch, where he healed several diseases by prayer, and won many other souls to Christ. But in neither of these flourishing towns did Rupert establish his bishopric. He made the old, fallen-down town of Juvavum, given to him by the duke of Bavaria, his headquarters. The town was restored and he named it Salzburg (Salt Fortress). There with the help of his companions Saints Virgilius, Chuniald, and Gislar, Rupert founded Saint Peter’s church and monastery with a school along the lines of the Irish monasteries.

He made a trip home to gather twelve more recruits. His sister, Saint Ermentrudis, entered a convent he founded at Nonnberg (setting for The sound of music) and became its first abbess. He did much to foster the operation of the salt mines. Rupert, the first archbishop of Salzburg, is considered to be the Apostle of Bavaria and Austria. He died on Easter Day after having said Mass and preached the Good News. Thereafter, he became so renowned that countries such as Ireland claimed him as a native son and celebrate his memory liturgically. The Duchy of Salzburg cast his likeness with that of the Saint Virgilius on the coin of the realm called a rubentaler (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, D’Arcy, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gougaud, Husenbeth, Kenney, Walsh, White).

The Saint Pachomius Library contains two versions of the Life of Saint Robert.

Rupert’s emblem in art is a barrel of salt, because of his association with the reopening of the salt mines. He may be shown holding a basket of eggs; baptizing Duke Theodo(re) of Bavaria; or with Saint Virgilius of Salzburg (Farmer, Roeder, White).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 28 May 2020. Web. 8 July 2020. <>