Austria: Patron Saints

St. Gebhard was born in 949, the son of Graf Ulrich IV of Bregenz and Dietburga von Zähringen. He attended the Cathedral School at Constance, where he acquired a thorough education, and was ordained priest by his uncle St. Konrad I. von Konstanz. He was consecrated bishop at the age of 30, becoming Bishop of Constance with the consent of Emperor Otto II. Frequently charged with political duties by the leading figures of the Empire, he continued the reforms of his uncle, attending to the poor of his diocese throughout his life. In 983, founded a monastery at Peterhausen, near Constance, and entrusted the running of the abbey to Benedictine monks from Einsiedeln. The monastery church was consecrated in 992. The Pope made the monastery a gift of a relic of the head of Pope Gregory I, to whom the church was dedicated.

Gebhard died on August 27, 995, and he was soon worshipped as a saint, particularly in Vorarlberg. Each year the citizens of Bregenz celebrate the anniversary of his death in the chapel built in 1793 on St. Gebhard's Mount, where once stood the castle of the Counts of Bregenz. St. Gebhard is the second patron saint of the Province of Vorarlberg and patron saint of the diocese. He is represented as a bishop with his staff and a model of the church, holding a skull with a tiara as a symbol of the precious relic donated by the Pope.

The picture on the stamp is the image of St. Gebhard on the altar painting in the church of Gotzis Meschach. Meschach lies above the market town of Gotzis in the mountains, and was made famous by Robert Schneider's novel "Brother of Sleep". As early as the second half of the 15th century there was a chapel in the remote side valley, as can be seen from the date "1463" in the choir of the old chapel. It is not known when the chapel was consecrated, although to all appearances it was by the Bishop of Chur, Lucius Iter, in 1548. The chapel itself was dedicated to St. Wolfgang. The neogothic main altar was made by Josef Bertsch in 1883.

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