Saint of the Day – 13 September – Saint Notburga (c 1265-1313) Virgin, Laywoman, Servant, Apostle of the poor, Born in c 1265 at Rattenberg, Austria and died on 13 September 1313 at Buch , Austria. Patronages – Servants and peasants. Also known as – Notburga of Rattenberg or Notburga of Eben.
Long revered as the Patron Saint of servants and peasants, Notburga is an example of a Saint whose care for the poor, sprung not out of her own wealth but followed the example of the widow with two mites, whose overflowing generosity compelled her to give all that she had, even though it was little (Lk 21:1-4). Notburga was born circa 1265 at Rattenberg, in the present-day state of Bavaria, Germany. Notburga is a popular German Saint,and three primary legends constitute the core of her biography.
Notburga served as a cook in the family of Count Henry of Rothenburg and used the little authority she had in this position, to assist the poor in the community. Her mistress Ottilia ordered Notburga to feed the leftover food from their dinner table, to the swine but Notburga gave it instead to the hungry. When she was discovered, she instead saved some of her own food and brought it to the poor, especially on Fridays, in observance of the Friday fast and duty of penance. On one such Friday, Notburga encountered her Master on her mission to the poor and Henry commanded her to show him the food that she was carrying. Notburga obeyed but in place of food, Henry saw only wood shavings and sawdust and, when sipping the wine, he tasted only vinegar. As a result, the family dismissed her. But Otilla soon fell dangerously ill. Despite being dismissed from the family service, Notburga remained with her former mistress without pay, to nurse her through her sickness.
Afterward, Notburga entered the service of a peasant in the Town of Eben, with the single condition that she be permitted to go to Mass on holy days. Instead of going during the day and diminishing her hours of work, Notburga would go in the evening. One evening, her master urged her to continue working in the field instead of going to Mass. Seeking some divine assistance to make her case, Notburga threw her sickle into the air and said: “Let my sickle be judge between me and you.” Notburga’s employer watched, astonished, as the sickle remained suspended in mid-air.
After Notburga left his employ, Count Henry of Rothenburg’s fortunes took a serious turn for the worse. His household suffered endless hardships and bad fortune, which Henry began to ascribe to his dismissal of Notburga. In order to regain his good fortune, Henry sought out Notburga and implored her to return to work for him. Graciously, Notburga agreed and, upon her return, Henry’s estate prospered like never before.
As Notburga approached death, she instructed her Master to place her corpse on a wagon drawn by two oxen and to bury her wherever the oxen would stop. Upon her death, on 13 September 1313, Henry did as she commanded. His oxen drew the wagon to the Chapel of St Rupert near Eben, where she was laid to rest and where she still draws pilgrims who beg her ipowerful ntercession. Her cult was ratified on 27 March 1862 by Pope Pius IX and her feast is celebrated on the 13th of September. Notburga is usually represented with an ear of corn or flowers and a sickle in her hand or suspended in the air.
Saint Notburga, whose generous and faithful love inspired the rich and poor alike—pray for us!