Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Blessed Herman Joseph, Confessor

detail from 'Vision of Blessed Joseph Herman' by Anthony Van Dyck, 1629, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, AustriaArticle

He was born at Cologne, and at twelve years of age entered the monastery of Steinfeldt of regular canons of the Premonstratensian Order in the dutchy of Juliers, and diocess of Cologne. His incredible fasts and other austerities, and his extraordinary humility, joined with assiduous prayer and meditation, raised him to an eminent gift of contemplation, which replenished his soul with the most profound sentiments of all virtues, and was attended with many heavenly favours: but, as it is usual, this grace was often accompanied with severe interior trials. He was singularly devoted to the Blessed Virgin. At the very remembrance of the mystery of the incarnation, his soul seemed to melt in tender love; and he seemed in raptures whenever he recited the canticle Benedictus at Lauds. Such was his desire of contempt, that he one day desired a peasant to strike him on the face. The other in surprise asked the reason: “On account,” said he, “of my being a most filthy and abominable creature, and because I cannot meet with so much contempt as I deserve.” He died on the 7th of April in 1226. He wrote a commentary on the book of Canticles, or Song of Solomon, and some other treatises on sublime contemplation, which may be ranked with those of other great masters in the contemplative way, as Thomas à Kempis, Saint Theresa, Thauler, Harphius, Blosius, Lanspergius, Hilton, etc. B. Herman is honoured among the saints in his Order, and in some churches in the Low Countries. In the abbey church of Steinfeldt he is titular saint of an altar, at which the priests who visit that church out of devotion to him, say a votive mass in his honour before his relics, with proper prayers of the saint used in that abbey from time immemorial. Small portions of his relics have been given to several other churches. Some are enshrined and exposed to public veneration in the abbey of Premontré at Antwerp; a portion is kept in the abbey of Parc, at Louvain; another in the parish church of Saint Christopher, at Cologne, and another at the Chartreuse in the same city. The Emperor Ferdinand II solicited his canonization at Rome, and several proofs of miracles and other particulars have been given in for that purpose. His name is inserted on the 7th of April, in the martyrology of the regular canons of Saint Austin, approved by Benedict XIV. See his life by a fellow canon of great virtue in the Bollandists on the 7th of April; also two other lives, and several acts, collected in order to pursue the process for his canonization.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Blessed Herman Joseph, Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 3 April 2013. Web. 31 October 2014. <>