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June 27

Saint of the day:

Saint Emma or Hemma of Gurk

Patron Saint of invoked during childbirth and against diseases of the eye; extreme hangovers

Saint Saint Emma of Gurk's Story

Hemma of Gurk (c. 980 – 27 June 1045), also called Emma of Gurk, was a noblewoman and founder of religious houses in the Duchy of Carinthia. Buried at Gurk Cathedral in 1174, beatified in 1287 and canonized in 1938, she is venerated as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church and as patroness of the current Austrian state of Carinthia.


Hemma was born Countess of Zeltschach to a noble family called Peilenstein in present-day Pilštanj, Slovenia. They were related to the Liutpoldings of Bavaria and thus to Emperor Henry II. She was brought up at the Imperial court in Bamberg by the Empress Saint Cunigunde. She married Count Wilhelm of Friesach and of the Sanngau, by whom she had two sons, Hartwig and Wilhelm. Both of her sons and her husband were murdered, the latest of them probably in 1036. Hemma became wealthy through inheritance upon the death of her husband and sons.

Countess Hemma used her great wealth for the benefit of the poor and was already venerated as a saint during her lifetime. In addition, she founded ten churches throughout present-day Carinthia, Austria. In 1043 she founded the Benedictine double monastery of Gurk Abbey, where she withdrew during the last years of her life.

After her death, Gurk Abbey was dissolved by the Archbishop of Salzburg, Gebhard, who instead used the funds to set up the Diocese of Gurk-Klagenfurt in 1072. Admont Abbey, another Benedictine foundation in Austria, was founded in 1074 by the same Gebhard, and also owes its existence to Hemma's wealth.

Since 1174 Hemma has been buried in the crypt of Gurk Cathedral, of which she is accounted the founder. She was beatified on 21 November 1287 and canonised on 5 January 1938 by Pope Pius XI. Her feast day is 27 June.

Hemma is the patron saint of the Diocese of Gurk-Klagenfurt as well as of the Austrian state of Carinthia, and her intercession is sought for childbirth and diseases of the eye.

Saint Emma is venerated not only in Austria but also in Slovenia and Styria. From about 300 years ago, the pious and those seeking assistance have been coming to her tomb in Gurk Cathedral (Krška katedrala), travelling from Carniola over the Loibl Pass. This pilgrimage took place every year on the fourth Sunday after Easter, but fell out of use as a result of the political circumstances of the 20th century.

In recent years, however, the routes of pilgrimage from Slovenia and Styria to Gurk (Krka) have gradually reopened and are becoming increasingly used.







Gurk Cathedral

Dompl. 11, 9342 Gurk, Austria




Admont Abbey Library

Kirchplatz 1, 8911 Admont, Austria

Dedicated to Saint Blaise, Admont Abbey was founded in 1074 by Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg with the legacy of the late Saint Hemma of Gurk, and settled by monks from St. Peter's Abbey in Salzburg under abbot Isingrin.







Salzburger Nockerl

Call it by its Austrian name, Salzburger Nockerl. Make three mounds in the baking dish
--they will puff into mountains. Dust heavily with confectioners' sugar before serving


  • Butter or margarine and sugar for the pan

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon flour

  • 4 egg whites

  • Pinch of salt

  • 2 tablespoon sugar

  • Confectioners' sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Generously butter an oval baking dish or skillet attractive enough to serve from. Use a metal pan approximately 12 by 8 inches or a ceramic one measuring 10 by 8 inches. Both are common sizes for oval baking containers.

  2. In a medium size mixing bowl, break the egg yolks up with a fork and stir in the vanilla and lemon peel. Sprinkle the flour over the yolk mixture.

  3. In another bowl, using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they cling to the beater. Add the sugar and beat until the whites form stiff, unwavering peaks.

  4. With a rubber spatula, stir an overflowing Tablespoon of the whites into the yolk-flour mixture, then reverse the process and fold the yolk mixture into the rest of the egg whites, using an over-under cutting motion instead of a mixing motion. Don’t overfold.

  5. Using the rubber spatula, make 3 mounds of the mixture in the dish.

  6. Bake the soufflé in the middle of the oven 10 to 12 minutes or until it is lightly brown on the outside but still soft on the inside.

  7. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.

Note: Add fruit, fruit compote, fruit coulis or jam to the bottom of the dessert to add extra flavor!

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