The top 25 Vienna Legends: #3 / Koloman

It is probably a stretch to call this an urban legend from Vienna, because back then there was no urban area to speak of, it is a historic fact and it all occured in lower Austria not Vienna. Then again back then Austria wasn’t much more than the stretch of land alongside the danube in the Wachau, Vienna and eastwards to the river March. Nothing you couldn’t drive down in two or three hours on a highway nowadays. Moreover it shows quite well how Austrians / Viennese tend to behave towards people. Finally it is the best legend I could think of under pressure, so here we go:


In the beginning of the 10th century the Babenberger Heinrich I. ruled the little stretch of land alongside the danube through the wonderful Wachau, which had little economic interest but a lot of strategic interest. In 1012 an Irish pilgrim named Koloman, son of a celtic lord, was held up in Stockerau. Because of his strange clothing and his language, which nobody understood, he was held for a spy from Hungary, cruelly tortured and executed. He was hanged on a tree.
His body hanged there for one and a half year without rotting. Finally, a hunter came along and wanted to check, but when he put his spear into the side of the body (remind you of something?) fresh blood poured out. So the body was taken off the tree and brought to the monastery in Melk, where it was buried.
But because wonderous things happened at the site of his death, a cult-following started to rise around the memory of Koloman and he was pronounced a martyr. He became a sort of patron saint of Austria (he was never pronounced a saint officially), which he remained until 1663 when saint Leopold become the patron of lower Austria. His patronage helps against bad weather, fire and epidemics.
St. Koloman in Salzburg is named after him and even nowadays if children aren’t behaving well, parents might say to them “…watch out, or Koloman comes.”

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