Hemma of Gurk

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Saint Hemma of Gurk

Feast day: June 29th.

The name is of Germanic origin and means ‘great, immense.’

Hemma of Gurk, also known as Hemma von Gurk, was a noblewoman who left her mark on history in the 11th century with her piety and charity. After the tragic loss of her husband and son, she dedicated her life to religious and charitable works. Among her deeds, the founding of the Benedictine monastery in Gurk, Carinthia, stands out. This monastery became an important religious center and later the seat of a diocese dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, which remains a popular pilgrimage site.
Her story is also connected with the legendary miracle of the gold coin. Legend has it that during the construction of the monastery in Oberburg, one of the laborers was accused of stealing a gold coin. Hemma believed in his innocence so strongly that she threw the coin into the fire, convinced that it wouldn’t melt if the laborer was innocent. The coin remained unharmed, and the laborer was declared innocent, confirming Hemma’s unwavering sense of justice.
With her generosity, Hemma distributed her wealth among the people and the church. She lived in community with nuns, participated in prayers, but did not become a nun herself. Her life was filled with prayer and charitable acts until her death around 1045. She is buried in the monastery she founded, and her influence and legacy have persisted through the centuries. Hemma of Gurk is celebrated on June 29th and remains an important saint in Slovenian and Austrian history.

Patroness of the Gurk diocese, Austrian Carinthia, and a helper for eye ailments and successful childbirth.