Born in 410, St. Severinus came to the borderland of present-day Germany and Austria from the east — possibly the Egyptian desert — to care for the Roman Christians who were endangered by invading barbarians during the collapse of the Roman Empire.
The mysterious high-born Severinus is first recorded as travelling along the Danube in Noricum and Bavaria, preaching Christianity, procuring supplies for the starving, redeeming captives and establishing monasteries at Passau and Favianae, and hospices in the chaotic territories that were ravaged by the Great Migrations, sleeping on sackcloth and fasting severely. His efforts seem to have won him wide respect, including that of the Germanic chieftain Odoacer. Eugippius credits him with the prediction that Odoacer would become king of Rome. However, Severinus warned that Odoacer would rule not more than fourteen years.
He remained there until the end of his life. While he was there he advised both common people and kings to put eternal life first, and taught them to be generous to one another and to lead a true Christian life.
He built a monastery and protected from harm those who gathered around him. As he foretold, the monks and other Christians who had followed him escaped to safety in Italy, taking St. Severinus’ incorrupt relics with them.
He died in 482 at his monastic cell at Favianae while singing Psalm 150. Six years after his death, his monks were driven from their abbey, and his body was taken to Italy, where it was at first kept in the Castel dell'Ovo, Naples, then eventually interred at the Benedictine monastery rededicated to him, at the Abbey of San Severino near Naples. St. Severinus was also the childhood guardian and spiritual father of St. Anthony the Hermit.