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June 12, 2021

How Saint Onouphrios Became the Patron Saint of Munich

According to historical sources (Anton Mayer, Münchner Sonntagsblatt, 1863), the founder of the city of Munich, Heinrich der Löwe, Duke of Bavaria, traveled to Jerusalem in 1172 where he visited a monastery containing the relics of Saint Onouphrios. When the monks told him about the life and holiness of the great hermit of the desert, the Duke begged to be given a portion of his sacred relics. As soon as he received the holy relic, he immediately proclaimed Saint Onouphrios the patron saint of his army for their safe return to Munich. When he arrived in Munich, he proclaimed Saint Onouphrios the patron saint of Munich and placed his relic in a special reliquary in the chapel of Munich Palace.

In the year 1416 Heinrich Primat, a native of Munich, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. For a safe return to Munich he vowed to donate a large iconographic representation of Saint Onouphrios to the main gate of the wall that led to the center of Munich. He made his vow by placing a large statue of Saint Onouphrios next to the gate, in front of his house, in the central square of Munich, which was also the commercial center of Bavaria.

Since then, the inhabitants of the city, gazing daily at the large figure of Saint Onouphrios, consider him as a constant and unstoppable protector of the city of Munich.

They also created the tradition that whoever looked at Saint Onouphrios in the square would not die that day, and whoever went to the square on a daily basis and looked at the Saint would live for many years. Also, when there was a large fire in the center of the city in 1659, Saint Onouphrios appeared, in large form, to carry water from the river Isar in Munich, to extinguish the fire.

Over the centuries the building where the representation of the Saint existed was demolished and rebuilt many times, always with the representation of Saint Onouphrios, as an eternal symbol of protection of the city.

After World War II and the significant damage to the city of Munich, the building was rebuilt. The current representation of Saint Onouphrios was made in 1951 by artist Max Lacher, denounced by Hitler and the Nazi regime, who also painted Saint Anastasia Chapel in Munich with paintings showing Hitler and the Nazis torturing Christ.

The Orthodox Church, the Coptic Church, the Ethiopian Church and the Roman Catholic Church celebrate Saint Onouphrios on June 12.

On the occasion of last year's (2020) feast of the Saint, the Protopresbyter Apostolos Malamousis went to the central square of Munich, the Marienplatz, and lit, in front of the representation of Saint Onouphrios, a candle in his honor. In his hands he also held the Orthodox Byzantine icon of Saint Onouphrios.