Saint of the Day – 27 March – St Rupert of Salzburg (c 660–710) Bishop and Abbot Apostle to Bavaria and Austria – born c 660 probably in France and died in 710 in Salzburg, Austria. Patronages – Salzburg, Austria, city of and Salzburg, Austria, province of.
Holy tradition states that Rupert was a scion of the Frankish royal Merovingian dynasty. He was possibly related to the Robertians, most likely a descendant of Count Palatine Chrodbert II.
As Worms bishop, Rupert was at first accepted as a wise and devout dignitary, however, the mostly pagan community eventually came to reject him and forced him out of the city. By the end of the 7th century, Duke Theodo of Bavaria requested that he come to his residence at Regensburg (Ratisbon) to help spread the Christian faith among the Bavarian tribes.
Rupert then moved to Altötting, where he converted the locals. He sailed down the Danube river, visiting many towns, villages and forts. Soon he had converted a large area along the Danube southeastward to the Bavarian border. Here he stayed at Lorch, where an Early Christian church—the present Basilica of St Lawrence—already existed.
Warlike conditions in the borderlands made him abandon plans of missionary work there. Instead he proceeded along the Roman road to the ruined city of Juvavum, where he made his base and renamed the city “Salzburg”. Like in Lorch, Rupert was able to build on ancient Early Christian traditions that were already in place. He re-established the convent at St Peter’s Abbey and laid the foundations of Salzburg Cathedral that was finished by his successor St Vergilius (c 700-784). He also founded the Benedictine nunnery of Nonnberg beneath the Festungsberg fortifications (later Hohensalzburg Castle), where his niece Erentrude became the first abbess.
Rupert also introduced education and other reforms. From the hands of Duke Theodo of Bavaria, his bishopric received estates around, where he promoted the development of the local saltworks. Rupert’s mission work also spread into the Alps, where a first monastic cell was founded about 711.
Rupert reportedly died on Easter Sunday in 710. His mortal remains were transferred to Salzburg Cathedral by Bishop Vergilius on 24 September 774.
Rupert’s life and mission work is documented in medieval chronicles. In accordance with Christian tradition, St Rupert’s feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his repose, 27 March. In Austria, it is 24 September commemorating the translation of his relics to Salzburg Cathedral. Rupertitag is also a public holiday in the State of Salzburg, associated with popular Volksfest events.
Rupert is the patron saint of the State of Salzburg, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Salzburg (together with his successor Vergilius) and of the adjacent Bavarian Rupertiwinkel region. He is also known as the “Apostle of the Bavarians” and patron of several settlements like Sankt Ruprecht in Styria or Šentrupert in Slovenia and of numerous church buildings.