Salve Regina, Hermann the Cripple and Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus was nearing the end of his voyage across the Atlantic 525 years ago.  He had a deep devotion to the Virgin Mary.  Each night he would assemble the crew on his ship to sing the Salve Regina.  The hymn was written in the eleventh century by Blessed Hermann the Cripple, a truly fascinating figure.



Born on July 18, 1013, he was a son of Wolverad II, Earl of Altshausen.  He entered this world with maladies that would be considered overwhelming in our time and in the eleventh century entirely beyond hope: a cleft palate and cerebral palsy and spina bifida, or perhaps  Lou Gehrig’s disease or spinal muscular atrophy.  In any event he could barely move, and could hardly speak.  He was placed in a monastery at age 7, no doubt his parents fearing that all that would occur for their son for the remainder of his time in this vale of tears was that he would be made as comfortable as possible until his afflicted life came to an end.

Among the monks he flourished.   At twenty he took his vows as a Benedictine monk. He spent most of his life at the Abbey of Reichenau.  He quickly demonstrated that a keen mind, as well as a beautiful soul, inhabited his wreck of a body. He mastered several languages including Latin, Arabic and Greek.  His genius was catholic in its scope:  he wrote a treatise on the science of music, several works on geometry, mathematics and astronomy, a chronicle of events from the Crucifixion to his time and composed religious poetry.  He built musical instruments and astronomical devices.  Students flocked to him throughout Europe, drawn not only by his learning but also by his sweet demeanor.  It is impossible to overstate the importance of his role in the scientific renaissance sweeping through Europe in the eleventh century.

Going blind in his later years, he became a noted composer of hymns, including the Salve Regina.  Dying in 1054 at age 40, he was beatified by Pio Nono in 1863.


Hermann the Cripple

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Thank you.
    Great story. How our Lord must weep over the false mercy of Doctors instructing young couples to abort their challenged fetuses due to deformities, diseases and as horrible as it sounds, gender selection.
    What a world.

    If our great grandparents were alive today they would not believe the atrocities being committed under the guise of law.

    This story of Hermann the cripple is proof that each and every life is sacred and regardless of circumstances God does not make mistakes.
    Our disposable society has reached a critical level. 60 million dead. God have mercy.

  2. The scope of your posts is also very Catholic!
    So I appreciate TAC ! The religious ligaments between Columbus, Hermanus Contractus and me and other American Catholics are the
    Ties that bind our hearts in Christian love

  3. Happy coincident, we had a talk and visit from several Sisters of Life, Bronx House, at Mass this morning. Sister asked for a show of hands of those who had been taught by a nun, the number of hands was surprising.

    It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

    At the Last Judgment, God will recompense the abortionists and millions of abortion enablers.

  4. Anzlyne.
    Beautifully written..your poetry.
    Myocardium tissue.
    From HIS Sacred Heart.
    An eternal bond.

    St. Maximilian Kolbe stated; “The motto of the Knights of the Immaculata is to lead every individual to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus as soon as possible.”

    May each of us in our unique ways do exactly as our St. Kolbe asked….ASAP.

  5. Thank you, TAC. Though acquainted with “Hermanus Contractus” (one of his Latin names that captures his physical struggles), you have done a wonderful writeup to which we can refer Catholics.

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