Saint of the Day – 4 December – Saint Anno II (c 1010-1975) Archbishop of Cologne from 1056 until his death. From 1063 to 1065 he acted as Regent of the Holy Roman Empire for the minor Emperor Henry IV, Reformer, founder of Monasteries and builder of Churches. Born in c 1010 in Swabia, Germany and died on 4 December 1075 in Siegburg, Germany of natural causes. He is the Patron of gout sufferers.
He was a founder or co-founder of Monasteries (Michaelsberg, Grafschaft, St Maria ad Gradus, St George, Saalfeld and Affligem) and a builder of Churches, advocated clerical celibacy and introduced a strict discipline in a number of Monasteries. He was a man of great energy and ability, whose action in recognising Pope Alexander II (the authentic Pope during a time of strife in the Church) was of the utmost consequence, for Henry IV and for Germany.
Anno was born to a noble family in Swabia, Germany and was educated in Bamberg, where he subsequently became head of the Cathedral school. In 1046, he became Chaplain to the Emperor Henry III and accompanied him on his campaigns against King Andrew I of Hungary. In 1054, the Emperor appointed him the administrative and liturgical head, at the newly erected Cathedral of Goslar and Archbishop of Cologne two years later.
The tears he abundantly shed during the whole ceremony of his Consecration were a proof of his sincere humility and devotion. The foot of the altar was his soul’s delight, comfort and refuge. The poor he sought out in their cottages and carried to them, sometimes on his own shoulders, blankets and other necessaries. He fasted much, watched the greatest part of the night, subdued his body with hair shirts and preached to his flock with the assiduity and zeal of a St Paul. He reformed all the Monasteries of his Diocese and built two of Regular Canons at Cologne, and three of Benedictines in other parts.
According to contemporary sources, Anno led an extremely ascetic life . Nevertheless, he was a fearsome adversary to anyone perceived as a threat to the interests of his Archdiocese. His plans to seize the prosperous Monastery in Malmedy, challenging the authority of the Imperial Abbey of Stavelot-Malmedy, caused much controversy and ultimately failed. On the other hand, he founded the Benedictine Abbey of Michaelsberg, modelled on the Italian Abbey of Fruttuaria, which soon evolved into a centre of the Cluniac Reforms in Germany.
After the death of Emperor Henry III in 1056, the Archbishop took a prominent part in the government of the Empire, during the minority of the six-year-old heir to the throne, Henry IV. He was the leader of the party which, in April 1062, seized the person of Henry in the Coup of Kaiserswerth and deprived his mother, Empress Agnes, of power. Anno for a short time was able to exercise the chief authority in the Empire but he was soon obliged to share this with his fellow conspirators, Archbishop Adalbert of Bremen and Archbishop Siegfried of Mainz, retaining for himself, the supervision of Henry’s education and the title of Magister.
The office of Arch-Chancellor of the Imperial Kingdom of Italy was at this period regarded as an appanage of the Archbishopric of Cologne and this was probably the reason why Anno had a considerable share in settling a Papal dispute brewing since 1061,- relying on an assessment by his nephew, Bishop Burchard of Halberstadt, he declared Alexander II to be the rightful Pope at a Synod held at Mantua in May 1064 and took other steps to secure his recognition against Empress Agnes’ candidate Antipope Honorius II.
Returning to Germany, however, he found the chief power in the hands of Archbishop Adalbert of Bremen and as he was disliked by the young Emperor, Anno gradually lost ground at the Imperial Court, although he regained some of his former influence, when Adalbert fell from power in 1066. In the same year he was able to secure the succession of his nephew, Conrad of Pfullingen, as Archbishop of Trier. By 1072 he had become Imperial Administrator and thus, the second most powerful man, acting as an arbitrator in the rising Saxon Rebellion.
No City north of the Alps was so rich in great Churches, Sanctuaries, Relics and religious communities as Cologne was. It was known as the “German Rome,” With the growth of the municipal prosperity, the pride of the citizens and their desire for independence, also increased and caused them to feel more dissatisfied with the sovereignty of the Archbishop. This resulted in bitter feuds between the Bishops and the City which lasted for two centuries, with varying fortunes.
The first uprising occurred under Anno II, at Easter of the year 1074. The citizens rose against the Archbishop but were defeated within three days and severely punished. It was reported he had allied himself with William the Conqueror, King of England, against the Emperor. Having cleared himself of this charge, Anno took no further part in public business and died in Siegburg Abbey on 4 December 1075, where he was buried.
In 1064 Archbishop Anno,donated Relics to his favourite foundation, the Abbey of St. Michael on the Michaelsberg, where he also decided his burial place in the same Church which he had Consecrated in 1066 and,when he was Canonised in 1183 by Pope Lucius III, his bones were lifted out of the grave hewn into the rocky subsoil of the Abbey Church and laid in the magnificent Anno Shrine, which today, is the highlight of this beautiful pilgrim Church.