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March 15

St Clement Mary Hofbauer

​Saint Clement Mary Hofbauer

Apostle of Vienna

(1751 – 1820)

“O Jesus, Author of our faith, let me live for You and die for You. Amen.

Saint Clement Mary Hofbauer

Saint’s Life Story

A Young Orphan

Johannes (John) Dvorák was born in Tasswitz, Moravia, (in the modern Czech Republic) on the feast of St. Stephen – December 26, 1751. He was the youngest of the nine children of a Czech butcher and a German mother. His father changed the family name from the Moravian Dvorák to the German Hofbauer. John was raised in a humble, pious family. John became an orphan at the age of 6 when his father died. With the goal of becoming a priest, John started studying Latin at the home of the local parish priest. His studies ended abruptly at 14 when the pastor died.

Baker’s Apprentice

As a baker’s apprentice in Znojmo, Czech Republic and then as a journeyman baker, as a servant at the Premonstratensian Klosterbruck, and as a student, he strove to draw nearer to his constant goal: the priesthood. However, neither he nor his family could afford the cost of educating him for service to the Church. Unable to attain his goal of the priesthood, he became a hermit. When Emperor Joseph II abolished hermitages in Austria, Hofbauer became a baker in Vienna.

Hermit

On a pilgrimage to Rome, he received the habit of a hermit at the hands of the Bishop Chiaramonti of Tivoli, the future Pope Pius VII, who changed John’s name to Clement. Clement found his way to Tivoli, Italy. Thus, he again became a hermit with a friend, Peter Kunzmann, but found that he was more suited to an active life than to that of a recluse. One day after Mass, Clement struck up a friendship with two ladies who agreed to pay for his studies at the University of Vienna and in Rome.

During this second pilgrimage to Rome, Clement and his friend, Thaddeus Hubl, became acquainted with the Redemptorist order and entered it in 1784, while Saint Alphonsus Liguori was still alive. At that time, he took the name Maria.

In 1785, Clement and Thaddeus were ordained. After two years of further study, they were sent to Vienna to found a Redemptorist house, but under the regime of Joseph II it was impossible to found a monastery in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During all of Clement’s life, the influence of the Enlightenment and Joseph II’s anti-papal Erastianism were at their height. So, the two friends were sent to Courland.

Charitable and Education Works In Poland

En route Clement’s old friend Kunzmann joined them as a lay brother. At the request of the papal nuncio, they went to Warsaw, Poland, and, in 1787, founded the first Redemptorist house beyond the Alps. Clement’s untiringly zealous work in Warsaw from 1787 to 1808 in the German national church of Saint Benno was profoundly effective, although it was somewhat retarded by the Napoleonic Wars. Five times each day he and his companions preached in Polish and German. During his stay in Poland, Clement established several houses.  He initiated many charitable and educational enterprises, including a free school for 350 poor children, and a high school. Clement preached so well that both Jews and Protestants were converted.  Hesent Redemptorist missionaries to Germany (the first house was built at Jestetten near Schaffhausen in 1802) and Switzerland.

Exiled to Vienna

In 1808, the French government had him removed and imprisoned with his companions at the fortress of Kuestrin, and after four weeks each was sent to his homeland. Thus, Clement ended up back in Vienna, Austria . Here, he spent the last 12 years of his life firmly planting the Redemptorist Institute in Germanic lands. His work led to the establishment of the order in Belgium, Ireland, England, and the Commonwealth. Clement, the propagator of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer north of the Alps, is venerated by his order as a second founder.

In Vienna, Clement had no advantage of birth or general education, but he earned a great reputation for wisdom in religious and social matters.

Clement worked unobtrusively in the Italian quarter and later was chaplain to Ursuline nuns and rector of their church. Again, he became widely known as a preacher and director of souls. Clement’s confessional was crowded not only with humble folk, who venerated him as the father of the poor, but also with men and women of the highest rank, influential government officials, statesmen of the Congress of Vienna, leading scholars and artists.

Founded a Catholic Catholic

In Vienna, Clement founded a Catholic college and became enormously influential in revitalizing the religious life of the German nations. Clement and Prince Rupert of Bavaria even thwarted a plan at the Congress of Vienna to set up a German Church independent of the papacy. Clement also fought the whole concept of Josephinism, that is secular domination of the Church and hierarchy by the secular ruler.

Accused of being a Spy

He was accused by the Austrian chancellor of being a Roman spy, but the archbishop of Vienna supported him, knowing the value of Clement’s contribution to the Catholic revival, so Emperor Francis I forbade his expulsion. Clement also tirelessly cared for the sick and the dying and showed sensitive consideration to devout and conscientious Protestants because he had a deep understanding of the causes of the Protestant Reformation and its religious motives among the German peoples.

His Death

In 1819, he was mortally ill of several diseases. He died the next year in Vienna, Austria on March 15, 1820. His funeral in Vienna’s Saint Stephen’s Cathedral was attended by thousands. Soon afterwards the cause for which he had long labored, the founding of Redemptorist houses in Austria, became a reality. His friend Werner said that he knew only three men of superhuman energy – Napoleon, Goethe, and Clement Hofbauer (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Hofer, Schamoni).

Beatified:            January 29, 1888 by Pope Leo XIII

Canonized:         May 20, 1909 by Pope Pius X

Feast Day:          March 15

Patron Saint:     Vienna, Austria

Sources:

Reflection

Saint Clement Mary Hofbaur made the world conscious of what it means to act and to think as a Catholic through his charitable works in Poland and Vienna, Austria. His admirable life and the example of his heroic virtue was a tangible argument of the divine power of our Faith.

Is the world conscious of your Catholic actions? If not, what virtuous act can you do today to be a sign of the divine power of our Faith?

Prayers

Saint Clement Mary Hofbauer, your life’s work meet with disaster. Religious and political tensions forced you and your brothers to abandon your ministries in Germany, Poland, and Switzerland. You were exiled from Poland and had to start all over again in Vienna. As followers of the crucified Jesus, we should see only new possibilities opening up whenever we meet failure. As long as we don’t give up on persons or circum­stances too quickly, divine grace can work miracles. Saint Clement Mary Hofbauer encourage us to follow your example, trusting in the Lord to guide us in our every step.

Saint Clement Mary Hofbauer, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Clement Mary Hofbauer – Religious and Priest

Anastpaul – Thought for the Day – 15 March – The Memorial of St Clement Mary Hofbauer C.Ss.R. (1751-1820)

Catholic Exchange – Saintly Encouragement for When You Feel Like Giving Up

Catholic Fire – St. Clement Mary Hofbauer: Apostle of Vienna

Catholic Online – St. Clement Mary Hofbauer

CatholicSaints.info – St. Clement Mary Hofbauer

Franciscan Media – St. Clement Mary Hofbauer

The Redemptorists – St. Clement Hofbauer

Wikipedia – Clement Mary Hofbauer

Video Link

St. Clement Mary Hofbauer- YouTube (The True Enlightment)