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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Patron Saint of Hospitality

During the final few days before Christmas, everybody seems to be busy with last minute preparations for their Christmas parties. Whether the party is elaborate or simple; for family or friends, the goal is to be a hospitable host, facilitating an event that will be enjoyed by all present.
St. Meinrad is a perfect intercessor for such an occasion, known after death as the “martyr of hospitality.”



Born in Switzerland to a noble family in the 9th century, Meinrad felt called to dedicate his life to God. At first he joined the Benedictine order and was ordained a priest, later becoming a teacher. It is there that he learned the Rule of St. Benedict, who instructed his monks on the proper way to welcome guests.
All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35). Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims. Once a guest has been announced, the superior and the brothers are to meet him with all the courtesy of love … All humility should be shown in addressing a guest on arrival or departure. By a bow of the head or by a complete prostration of the body, Christ is to be adored because he is indeed welcomed in them.

However, Meinrad felt called to a life of deeper contemplation and seclusion and became a hermit after the example of the Desert Fathers. He was a hermit in the Black Forest, but his holiness became widely known and visitors flocked to his little hovel in the woods.
Then on January 21, 861 Meinrad welcomed a pair of thieves. He received them with all dignity, sheltering and feeding them, even though their appearance was suspicious. When they realized Meinrad did not have anything worth stealing, they decided to kill him. His death was viewed by the local people as a “martyrdom,” even though he didn’t die directly for his belief in Christ.