Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict – Saint Fridolin, Abbot

illustration of Saint Fridolin, Abbot, from the book 'Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict', designed by Father Amandus LiebhaberAmong the many saintly missionaries Scotland sent forth to spread the light of the Faith among the Pagan peoples of Germany, one of the most famous was Saint Fridolin. He was the son of Conran, the King of the Scots, and received a careful education suitable to his rank. The Court, however, offered too little scope for the zeal for religion which burned in the heart of the young prince. Joining the Order of Saint Benedict, he devoted himself earnestly to the observance of its discipline. When he had perfected himself in all monastic duties, Fridolin sought a wider sphere for his energies; so he set out, as a soldier of Christ, to wage war on idolatry and heresy. Journeying far and wide, he everywhere drove out false gods, and at length reached Germany.

The inhabitants of Strasburg in Alsace – some of whom were heathens, others tainted with the Arian heresy – were the first in Germany to benefit by his mission. There having extirpated both idolatry and heresy, he then proceeded to convert the tribes on the Rhine and the inhabitants of Glaron and Rhaetia. Among them, by the blessing of God, his efforts were crowned with like success. At Seckingen he built religious houses, both for men and for women, who, trained up according to the Rule of Saint Benedict, would assist him in preaching the Gospel. With a chosen band of his Monks he next carried the standard of the Cross into Burgundy and the Grisons. The Almighty assisted his victorious progress by many miracles.

It chanced that the barbarous tribes from the North had invaded the districts near the Rhine, and were devastating the country on all sides. The Monastery of Seckingen stood quite exposed, in open ground, and it seemed that unless the Monks fled they would themselves be butchered, and their home reduced to ashes. In this extremity Saint Fridolin by his prayers to Heaven so prevailed, that the Rhine, which ran with strong stream straight past the monastery, altered its course, and, flowing round the sacred buildings, placed its protecting waters between them and the enemy. The barbarians fled panic-stricken at this prodigy.

As the lands attached to the Abbey were hardly sufficient for the support of the brethren, Duke Ursio, moved by the holy life of the monks of Seckingen, made a grant to Fridolin of all his possessions. When Ursio died, his brother Landulph, who had long looked with greedy eyes on the estates of Ursio which the monks were enjoying, demanded that they should be restored, asserting that the lands were given as a precarium – that is, a gift which could be resumed by the donor at his pleasure – and when the Abbot refused, he was summoned before the assizes of the province at Rankovilla. Fridolin was in great straits, as Ursio, the only witness who could testify to the conditions of the grant, was dead, and there was no deed nor will to produce. Again the Saint had recourse to the Almighty. In answer to the prayers which he fervently poured forth before the tomb of Ursio, the tomb opened, Ursio came forth, and hand in hand with Fridolin traversed the six miles that lay between the cemetery and Rankovilla. The entrance of the Saint, accompanied by the pale semblance of the deceased Duke clad in the cerements of death, struck such terror into the heart of Landulph, that he not only withdrew his suit against Fridolin, but even made over to him, as a peace-offering, the inheritance of all his own lands. Then Ursio vanished from sight.

The death of this great Apostle of the Germans took place at his own Monastery of Seckingen about A.D. 560.

– text and illustration taken from Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict by Father Aegedius Ranbeck, O.S.B.