Henry was born in 972 A.D. to Henry II (the Quarrelsome), Duke of Bavaria, and Gisella of Burgundy. He received an excellent education under the tutelage of Bishop Wolfgang of Regensburg at the Cathedral school in Hildesheim. Although he aspired to the priesthood, the death of Henry's father in 995 necessitated that he take upon himself the role of Duke of Bavaria, thereby foregoing his dreams of the priesthood. He was later crowned King of Germany in 1002 and King of Italy in 1004. In 1014 Pope Benedict VIII crowned Henry Holy Roman Emperor.
Henry was married to St. Cunegunda. They never had children and some accounts state that they had a celibate marriage but this can not be proven.
Henry was forced to do battle against his two brothers-in-law when they rebelled against him. Though they were defeated, Henry forgave them and the three were later reconciled.
Henry was involved in reform movements within the Church, while still respecting her independence. He made the city of Bamberg, Germany a center for missions to Slavic countries and began the construction of the Cathedral at Basel, Switzerland. Henry is said to have been cured of an unspecified illness by the touch of St. Benedict. Both he and St. Cunegunda were known to be prayerful and good to the poor.
After St. Cunegunda's death Henry desired to become a monk and sent his application to the abbey of Saint-Vanne at Verdun, France. The abbot refused his application however, telling him "to keep his place in the world where he could do much good for people and the advancement of God's kingdom."
Henry died on July 13, 1024 in Pfalz Grona, Saxony of natural causes. He was canonized by Pope Blessed Eugene III in 1146. He is the patron saint: against sterility; of the diocese of Bamberg, Germany; of Basel, Switzerland; of Benedictine Oblates; of childless people; of disabled people; of dukes; of handicapped people; of kings; of people rejected by religious orders; and of physically challenged people.