Coloman Courtyard

Coloman, according to legend a kingís son from Ireland on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, was martyred in 1012 in Stockerau, near Vienna. In this dangerous border area he was suspected of espionage. He came under suspicion because of his strange language and clothing, and was then imprisoned, tortured, and finally hanged from a dead elder tree.

The miracles that then occurred soon caused the local population to venerate Coloman. Heinrich I become aware of Coloman through these wonders, and had his corpse brought to Melk in 1014. A ceremonial funeral was held on October 13, 1014 in the St. Peterís church on the castle cliffs in Melk.

St. Coloman: Sandstone sculpture in Coloman's Courtyard in the evening lightOne reason for Colomanís translation to Melk may have been a desire on the part of the Babenbergs to enjoy the mercy of the saint in life and death. Having a saint in their castle was seen as a sort of divine confirmation of the rule conferred upon them by the emperor, and was intended to promote the inner stability of their realm. Next to Colomanís grave the Babenbergs could now establish a burial site worthy of them. The existence of this burial site was probably also one reason why Leopold II made a Benedictine monastery out of the Melk castle in 1089. The Benedictines in Melk have kept the memory of St. Coloman alive.

Numerous churches in Austria, Bavaria, Swabia, and elsewhere are dedicated to St. Coloman. Coloman was also Austriaís first patron saint. The Babenberg margrave St. Leopold III was not made patron saint until 1663.

St. Coloman is still the patron saint of the town and monastery of Melk. Every year in Melk monastery a mass is celebrated on October 13th to honor St. Coloman. Since 1451, his saint day has been celebrated on this day in the town with a big fair.

St. Coloman is venerated to this day. In our times, where listening to each other has become increasingly difficult, he can be seen as a contemporary saint, as he, stranger in a strange land, was not understood. Whoever is different, looks or speaks differently, makes himself suspicious, causes fear, and can easily become the victim of prejudice.