May 2006 - Volume 10, Issue 10

Saint Of The Month

St. Bertha – May 15

Photo of early spring flowers

It is believed Bertha was born in the eighth century. Little is known of her early life, except that Bertha came from a wealthy family and married a pagan who later died in battle.

Bertha then devoted herself to God's service and to raising her son Rupert as a Christian. It was the beginning of the mother and son's lifelong relationship of deep spiritual companionship.

From a very early age, Rupert showed a keen understanding of Jesus' teachings. When Bertha told him that she planned to pay for a church to be built, Rupert replied, "But first we must obey God and give bread to the hungry and clothe the naked." Touched by her Rupert's compassion, Bertha used her considerable wealth to establish several hospices for the poor and the sick.

A few years later, Bertha and Rupert made a pilgrimage to Rome. As her faith deepened, Bertha decided to give away the last of her land and money to the poor and move, with Rupert, to Bingen (now part of Germany) so that they could lead a more spiritual life. Mother and son spent the rest of their lives there in solitude and contemplation.

Rupert died at the early age of 20, but Bertha lived 25 more years as a recluse on a hill, which became known as Rupertsburg, meaning "Rupert's Mountain". Bertha was buried alongside her beloved son in a convent cemetery along the banks of the Nahe River.

The moving story of Bertha and Rupert might have been lost if it had not been for the great mystic, writer and musician St. Hildegard of Bingen, who lived in the same region some three centuries later. Hildegard celebrated their lives in her Vita Sancti Ruperti.

may everything we do
begin with your inspiration
and continue with your saving help.
Let our work always find its origin in you
and through you reach completion.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God
for ever and ever.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives