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April 21

St Conrad of Parzham - April 21

Saint Conrad of Parzham

Lay Capuchin Brother, Mystic

(1818 – 1894)

My plan of life is chiefly this: to love and suffer, always meditating upon, adoring and admiring God’s unspeakable love for His lowliest creatures.

Saint Conrad of Parzham

Saint’s Life Story

His Life in a Large Family

Baptized with the name Johann (John), John Birndorfer was born in Parzham (ow a part of the town of Bad Griesbach), Kingdom of Bavaria (now part of Germany) on December 22, 1818. He was the son of Bartholomäus Birndorfer and Gertrude Niedermayer born in a poor farming family. John was the second youngest of 12 children, five of whom died in infancy.  

Devoted

From his early years, John gave evident signs of a deep interior life, preferring places of solitude where he could be alone with God.   Despite the great distance from the nearest Church, John walked frequently through rain and snow to attend the holy Mass.   He had a great devotion to Our Lady and prayed the Rosary daily. John remained on the farm without much thought of the future.   His mother died when John was only 14.   

His Life as a Capuchin Franciscan

At age 31, with the passing of his father, John decided to follow his heart and become a Capuchin Franciscan.  After giving away his possessions, he was admitted to the novitiate as a lay brother. John received the religious name Conrad in honor of Saint Conrad of Piacenza.  Immediately after his profession, he was sent to the friary of St Ann, in the city of Altötting. The friary served the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting, the National Shrine of Bavaria to the Blessed Mother.

His Life as a Porter

Conrad was given the position of porter at this shrine and retained it until his death.  Because it was a large and busy city, the duty of the friary porter was a very difficult one. Conrad was known to be diligent at his work, sparing in words, bountiful to the poor, eager and ready to receive and help strangers.   Brother Conrad fulfilled the task of porter for more than forty years, assisting the inhabitants of the town in their needs of body and soul.

Sought Solitude

Conrad loved silence!   As mentioned, he sought places of solitude as a child in order to raise his thoughts to God.   During his spare moments as a porter, he would duck into a nook near the door where it was possible to see the Blessed Sacrament in the nearby chapel.   

Seldom Slept

During the night, he often deprived himself of hours of sleep in order to be alone with Jesus in the chapel.   It was generally believed that he never took any rest but continually occupied himself in work and exercises of devotion.   Conrad also continued his childhood devotion to Our Lady, deepening his love for the Mother of God with every year of his religious life.   These were his great secrets to sanctity:  Silence, the Blessed Sacrament and Mary, Queen of the Friars Minor.

Beer Server

Conrad’s duties included the supremely important task of supplying pilgrims with beer. This got him trouble with some though, as we can see in his canonization process:

One member of the tribunal asked whether it was very “saintly” for the Brother to serve a Bavarian girl two steins of beer and thereby risk the danger of getting her tipsy. Cardinal Michael Faulhaber of Munich came to the defense of the porter saying that if the lady in question could get drunk on only two steins she was certainly not a Bavarian farm girl.

Others questioned the propriety of his hearty invitation to “Come, have another stein.” But like the gospel cup of cold water, the stein of beer given by a saint was a gesture of holiness that would not go without its reward. . . . He was never happier than when he had plenty of bread and beer for his poor (see The Capuchin Way: Lives of Capuchins, vol. 2, North American Capuchin Conference, 1996).

His Death

During his lifetime, Brother Conrad was reputed to have been able to read the hearts of those he met and was attributed the gift of prophecy.  At the age of 75, Conrad died April 21, 1894 in the friary where he had served for 41 years in in the city of Altötting, Germany. His heroic virtues and the miracles he performed won for him the distinction to be ranked among the Blessed by Pope Pius XI in 1930.   Four years later, the same pope, approving additional miracles which had been performed, solemnly inscribed his name in the list of saints.

Born:                    December 22, 1818 in Parzham, Bavaria (Germany)

Died:                    April 21, 1894 age 75 in Altötting, Bavaria (Germany)

Beatified:            June 15, 1930 by Pope Pius XI

Canonized:         May 20, 1934 by Pope Pius XI

Feast Day:           April 21

Patron Saint:    Mid-America Provinces of Capuchin Friars

Source:

Reflection

Sometimes we think that we cannot do Gods work because I am just a teller, waiter, cleaning person (or whatever you do). Saint Conrad of Parzham was a porter that greeted people at the door of the friary (think of a Walmart greeter except at a church). Through his 41 years of service, he shows us it is not what our job is, but how we do our job. Saint Conrad of Parzham stated: “The bell is ringing to call me once more to praise God.” He performed his duties with imperturbable patience, always humble, pious, helpful, unassuming, and diligent. No one ever saw him irritable or churlish. No one ever heard from his lips malicious gossip or frivolous judgment or even an idle word, although he had dealings with innumerable people in the course of many years. His self-sacrificing charity towards pilgrims and the poor, children and itinerant journeymen won him the hearts of the people.

When the “bell rings” for you today will you praise God for your blessings? Today, how can you offer up to God your work and win the hearts of the people you encounter?

Prayers

Saint Conrad of Parzham,

You won the hearts of the pilgrims and poor, the children and itinerant journeymen through love, patience and kindness. 

You were a visible sign of God on earth to all you encountered as you greeted them.

May we seek your intercessions so that we may also be a visible sign of God on earth in our love and kindness we show others in all of our lowly duties whether at work or at home.

Saint Conrad of Parzham, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – 40 Years at the door: St. Conrad of Parzham

Anastpaul – Saint of the Day – 21 April – St Conrad of Parzham OFM Cap (1818-1894)

Capuchin.org – Saint Conrad of Parzham Religious, 1818 – 1894

Catholic Exchange – The Saints of the Beer Option

Catholic Online – St. Conrad of Parzham

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Conrad of Parzham

Franciscan Media – Saint Conrad of Parzham

Newman Ministry – Saint Conrad of Parzham OFM Cap

Wikipedia – Conrad of Parzham

Video Links

Conrad of Parzham (Franciscan Saints – YouTube Video (Capuchin Franciscans)