Gebhard of Salzburg

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Blessed Gebhard of Salzburg (about 1010 – 15 June 1088), also occasionally known as Gebhard of Helfenstein, was Archbishop of Salzburg from 1060 until his death. He was one of the fiercest opponents of King Henry IV of Germany during the Investiture Controversy.

Life[edit]

Hohensalzburg Castle

Of Gebhard's origins, all that is known for certain is that he was born in the German stem duchy of Swabia. Although he appeared in a 17th-century genealogy by Gabriel Bucelin as a scion of the comital House of Helfenstein, this lineage is entirely speculative. Gebhard assumedly studied in Paris, was ordained a priest at Salzburg in 1055 and became court chaplain to Emperor Henry III. Then a loyal supporter of the Salian dynasty, he also travelled as an ambassador to the Byzantine court at Constantinople and held the office of an Imperial chancellor between 1057 and 1059.

On 30 July 1060 he was consecrated bishop of the Archdiocese of Salzburg. He reorganized the tithes paid by the Carantanian peasants and the parish system in Carinthia, where he in 1072 dissolved the double monastery of Gurk Abbey, founded by Saint Hemma in 1043, and replaced it by the suffragan Diocese of Gurk. Gebhard also established Admont Abbey in 1074, vested with Hemma's estates in the Carinthian March of Styria. Besides this, he had the fortresses of Hohensalzburg, Hohenwerfen and Friesach built.

Yet in 1075, Gebhard had backed the German king Henry IV struggling with the Great Saxon Revolt. In the following Investiture Controversy however, he was on the side of Pope Gregory VII. Like his friend Bishop Altmann of Passau he did not attend the 1076 Synod of Worms held by the king and instead allied with the oppositional princes at the diet of Trebur later in that year. Even after Henry's Walk to Canossa, Gebhard supported the election of antiking Rudolf of Rheinfelden in March 1077. As he was unwilling to be reconciled with the king, Henry IV expelled him from Salzburg. While his diocese was devastated by the king's forces, Gebhard spent nine years in Swabia and Saxony, trying to win the support of the bishops for the cause of Pope Gregory VII. Meanwhile in Salzburg, Berthold von Moosburg was installed as anti-bishop in 1085. Gebhard was not able to return to Salzburg until 1086, assisted by the support of Duke Welf I of Bavaria.

Gebhard died at Hohenwerfen on 15 June 1088 and is buried in the church of Admont Abbey. His feast day is 15 June. He is shown as a bishop with a Greek cross and a unicorn. In 1629 a process of canonization was begun but delayed due to the Thirty Years' War and has never been concluded.

Sources[edit]

  • Amon, Karl, 1991: Die heiligen Bischöfe und Erzbischöfe der Kirche von Salzburg. In: Sursum Corda, Festschrift für P. Harnoncourt.
  • Karner, Pius, 1913: Austria Sancta. Die Heiligen und Seligen Salzburgs. Vienna.
  • Tomek, Ernst, 1935-59: Kirchengeschichte Österreichs. Innsbruck/Vienna/Munich: Tyrolia.
  • Wimmer, Otto, Melzer, Hartmann, Gelmi, Josef (eds.), 2002: Gebhard Erzb. von Salzburg. In: Lexikon der Namen und Heiligen. Hamburg: Nikol. ISBN 3-933203-63-5
  • Wodka, Josef, 1959: Kirche in Österreich. Wegweiser durch ihre Geschichte. Vienna: Herder.
  • Wodka, Josef, 1960: Gebhard EB v. Salzburg. In: Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche. 2nd edition, vol. 4. Freiburg i. B.: Herder.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Baldwin
Archbishop of Salzburg
1060–1088
Succeeded by
Thiemo