St. Meinrad was a Benedictine monk who lived as a hermit for much of his life, dedicated to prayer and solitude. Learn about how he became the "Martyr of Hospitality" and his connection with ravens.
Born about the year 800 in what is now Germany, Meinrad was a Benedictine monk who lived as a hermit for much of his life, dedicated to prayer and solitude.
Even as a hermit, his reputation as a wise and holy man led people to seek him out for counsel and prayer. Despite his desire for solitude, the monk Meinrad graciously attended to his guests’ needs, physical as well as spiritual. He gave away everything the faithful men and women sent him as alms to his visitors.
For 26 years, Meinrad lived a life devoted to fasting, prayer and abstaining from all worldly things. In all those years, Meinrad was never harmed by a wild animal in the deep woods where he stayed. In fact, he befriended and hand fed two ravens that regularly visited him.
In 861, Meinrad had a vision that he would be killed by two robbers. Shortly after the vision, the two evil men arrived at Meinrad’s hermitage. After finishing what he knew would be his last Mass, Meinrad invited the robbers in and offered them food, drink and a rest from their travels.
Once the robbers realized Meinrad did not have the many treasures they expected, they clubbed him to death, and then fled out of fear.
As if wishing to avenge their friend, the two ravens followed the men through the woods back into town, loudly cawing and pecking at the men’s heads. The birds drew such attention to the men that the townspeople realized what they had done, and they were quickly arrested and convicted of their crime.
Meinrad’s death earned him the title of “Martyr of Hospitality.”
The site of his hermitage later became the Abbey of Einsiedeln in 934. When, in 1854, Einsiedeln established an abbey in America, the name chosen was Saint Meinrad.
The Life & Death of St. Meinrad the Hermit, trans. by Fr. Guy Mansini, OSB
Einsiedeln “in the dark wood,” by A.R. Bennett