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St. Erhard of Ratisbon

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Bishop of that city in the seventh century, probably identical with an Abbot Erhard of Ebersheimmunster mentioned in a Merovingian diploma of 684. Ancient documents call him also Erard and Herhard. The legendary account of his life offers little that is historically certain. The following, however, seems reliable. Erhard was born in Ireland, then known as "Scotia". Like many of his countrymen he went to the Continent as missionary bishop or chorepiscopus, and coming to the Vosges met there St. Hildulf, said to have been Archbishop of Trier, and who lived there as a hermit (666-671). He is called Erhard's brother, but very likely spiritual relationship was meant. It is said that each of them founded seven monasteries. Thence Erhard went to Ratisbon and founded the nunnery of Niedermunster. By Divine inspiration he was recalled to the Rhineland to baptize St. Odilia, blind from her birth, but who received her eyesight at her baptism. He sent a messenger to her father, Duke Attich, and reconciled him with his disowned daughter. According to another account, St. Odilia was baptized by Hildulf, Erhard acting as her sponsor. The year of his death is not known. He was interred in the still-extant Erhard-crypt at Niedermunster, and miracles were wrought at his grave, that was guarded in the Middle Ages by "Erhardinonnen", a religious community of women who observed there a perpetual round of prayer. Otto II, in 974, made donations of properties in the Danube valley to the convent "where the holy confessor Erhard rests". On 7 Oct., 1052 the remains of the holy bishops Erhard and Wolfgang were raised by Pope St. Leo IX in presence of Emperor Henry III and many bishops, a ceremony which was at that time equivalent to canonization. Ratisbon documents, however, mention only the raising of Wolfgang, not that of Erhard. At the close of the eleventh century, Paul von Bernried, a monk of Fulda, at the suggestion of Abbess Heilika of Niedermunster, wrote a life of Erhard and added a second book containing a number of miracles. The learned canon of Ratisbon, Conrad of Megenberg (d. 1374), furnished a new edition of this work. The church in Neidermunster, now a parish church, still preserves the crosier of the saint, made of black buffalo-horn. A bone of his skull was enclosed in a precious receptacle in 1866 and is placed upon the heads of the faithful on his feast day, 8 Jan. Three ancient Latin lives of the saint are found in the Acta Sanctorum (8 Jan). The beautiful reliquary is reproduced in Jakob, "Die Kunst im Dienste der Kirche" (illust. 16).

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