Bruno of Querfurt

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Saint Bruno of Querfurt (c. 970 – February 14, 1009), also known as Brun and Boniface[1], is a sainted missionary bishop and martyr, who was beheaded near the border of Kievan Rus and Lithuania while trying to spread Christianity in Eastern Europe. He is also called the second Apostle of the Prussians (Old Prussians).



Early life

Bruno was from a noble family of Querfurt (now in Saxony-Anhalt). He is rumored to have been a relative of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III. At the age of six he was sent to be educated in Magdeburg, seat of Adalbert of Magdeburg, the teacher and namesake of Saint Adalbert. While still a youth he was made a canon of Magdeburg cathedral. The fifteen-year-old Otto III made Bruno a part of his royal court. While in Rome for Otto's imperial coronation, Bruno met Saint Adalbert of Prague, the first Apostle of the Prussians, killed a year later, which inspired Bruno to write a biography of St Adalbert when he reached the recently Christianized and consolidated Kingdom of Hungary himself. Bruno spent much time at the monastery where Adalbert had become a monk and where abbot John Canaparius may have written a life of Saint Adalbert. Later, Bruno entered a monastery near Ravenna, founded by Otto, and underwent severe ascetic training under the guidance of St. Romuald.

Missionary life

In Otto III hoped to open a monastery between the Elbe and the Oder (somewhere in the pagan lands that became Brandenburg or Western Pomerania) to help convert the local population into Christianity. In 1003 Pope Sylvester II appointed Bruno, at the age of 33, to head a mission amongst the pagan peoples of Eastern Europe. Owing to a regional conflict between the Holy Roman Emperor Henry II and Duke Boleslaus I of Poland he delayed the plans for the monastery, and so Bruno set out for Hungary. There he went to the places that Saint Adalbert of Prague had attended. Bruno tried to convert Ahtum, the Duke of Banat, who was an Eastern Orthodox Christian to Catholicism, but this precipitated a large controversy leading to organized opposition from Orthodox monks. Bruno elected to gracefully exit the region after he first finished his book, the famous "Life of St. Adalbert," a literary memorial of much worth giving a history of the (relatively recent) conversion of the Hungarians.

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