Coloman of Garcia in Melk

The legend of Saint Coloman: From Irish prince to Austrian patron saint.

The city of Melk and its Benedictine monastery are shaped by Saint Coloman, who found his last resting place in the monastery high above the Danube.

His pilgrimage to Jerusalem from his home in Ireland came to an end in Stockerau, where, due to his foreign language and clothes, he was imprisoned as a spy, tortured and hung from a withered elder. This was what befell Saint Coloman in 1012, who, according to legend, was the son of an Irish King When they had hung him, the Stockerau locals were amazed when the elder used for the gallows suddenly blossomed again and the body of the suspected spy didn't rot. As the miracle become more well-known, Henry I, Margrave of Austria, moved Coloman's body to his palace in Melk in 1014 and buried it here.

Patron of the abbey, town and country

At that time, Melk was the seat of the House of Babenberg, the family who had ruled the Margraviate of Ostarrîchi since 976. This was a small area on the eastern border of Bavaria, which the House of Babenberg wished to rapidly expanded. Melk’s status grew in important following the transfer of Coloman's body. The martyr’s new final resting place not only gained renown; it was also a significant relocation: A Benedictine monastery was founded at the Saint's grave in 1089. The Saint’s final resting place is still located in the monastery's chapel. Coloman himself became a patron saint of the Babenberg family, of the city of Melk and later was selected as the patron saint of Austria.

Long live Coloman

The Saint is remembered in a variety of ways in Melk. There is a Coloman fountain with a statue of the saint at the centre of the town hall square. The Kolomanikirtag has been held on 13 October every year since 1451. The abbey also holds a service honouring the Saint on the same day, where the Coloman monstrant is shown in the form of an elder bush. The sarcophagus containing the Saint's bones, a statue next to the entrance, priceless works of arts, such as a late Gothic panel, a Baroque reliquary and a number of rooms in Melk Abbey, such as the Coloman room, the Coloman courtyard and the Coloman bell, commemorate the patron saint.