Severe disabilities

His name may not be the most politically correct among the beatified, but Blessed Herman the Cripple remains an extraordinary example of the Church’s special love for the disabled. He also wrote, according to traditional attribution, some of the most frequently sung music in Catholic history.

Born in 1013, the son of a German count, Herman was paralysed, almost unable to speak, and suffered from a cleft palate and spina bifida. But he was mentally very quick, and so at age seven Herman went to live in a Benedictine house.

The monks drew out Herman’s intellectual as well as spiritual gifts. Aged 20, Herman made his profession at the abbey on Reichenau Island, Lake Constance.

Perseverance and will

All his life he had to be carried around in a special chair. “His iron will,” says the Catholic Encyclopedia, “overcame all obstacles, and it was not long before his brilliant attainments made him a shining light in the most diversified branches of learning”.

In philosophy and theology, but also mathematics, astronomy, music, Latin, Greek and Arabic, Herman became a renowned scholar.

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