Gotthard's father worked the fields around the abbey of Niederaltaich in Bavaria, and so little Gotthard grew up at the cloister under the watchful eye of the priestly canons. His evident gifts drew the attention of the archbishop of Salzburg, who moved to sponsor the boy's education. After years of study, Gotthard was ordained, and joined others in restoring the Benedictine Order to the abbey that he called home. He then entered the community as a monk.
Before long, Gotthard was named abbot, a post he held for twenty-five years. In 1022, at the age of sixty, Gotthard was made bishop of Hildesheim, Germany, by Saint Henry the Emperor. For the next sixteen years he gave himself tirelessly for the sake of the people of Hildesheim. Like saintly Bishop Bernward before him, Gotthard was a force for creativity and culture. He built schools and renovated churches, attended to the beauty of the liturgy and the education of the priests.
Gotthard died in 1038 and was canonized in 1131 by Pope Innocent II. The Gotthard Pass, located in the Swiss alps, has enjoyed his patronage since the 13th century. (Taken from Magnificat magazine, April 2016, Vol 18, #2)
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