Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hail Holy Queen

The Hail Holy Queen was written nearly 1,000 years ago by a man who certainly knew of "mourning and weeping in this valley of tears." An 11th-century Benedictine monk, his name was Blessed Herman the Cripple.

Born deformed and practically helpless from birth, Herman was cared for from childhood by the monks of the Reichenau abbey of Germany. He was professed as a monk there at age 20. Even though he was bedridden and a speech impediment made him nearly impossible to understand, Herman was gifted as a mathematician and astronomer, and he made astronomical and musical instruments as well.

When he eventually became blind, Herman began writing hymns. His "Salve Regina," or "Hail Holy Queen," is the best known. Its name comes from the first words in Latin.

Although Herman was so deformed that he was never able to stand, his beautiful prayer stands today as a comfort to many, and is traditionally recited at the conclusion of the Rosary.

Blessed Herman died at the age of 40 in 1054. His Sept. 25 feast day is observed in some Benedictine monasteries.

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