Saint Odile, Abbess of Strasbourg

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Odile d'Alsace, abbesse de Strasbourg

Also Known As: "Odile", "Ottala", "Ottilia"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Alsace, Lorraine, France
Death: Died in Alsace, Lorraine, France
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Adalrich I (Eticho), duke of Alsace and Berswinde d'Austrasie
Sister of Adalrich II (Eticho), count in Nordgau; Count Haicho; Adalbert I, duke of Alsace; Didon (Desiderius) of Poitiers and Roswinda d'Alsace

Occupation: Abbess of Strasbourg
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Saint Odile, Abbess of Strasbourg

(added by Alex Turner)

http://www.vinoline.net/article32.html

Mont Saint Odile

Events in Alsace.In the heart of the seventh century, Adalric, duke and sovereign of Alsace and feudatory warrior, known for its inner violence and lack of self control, murdered St Germain, abbot of Grandval in Montbeliard. In order to expiate his guilt, he built a monastery.

His wife, Bereswinda, a niece of St Leger and a fervent Christian, gave him four sons and one blind daughter Odile, born in the ducal palace of Obernai. As Odile’s father couldn’t accept the blindness of his daughter, he wanted to kill her, but his wife managed to entrust the baby to one of her servants. She took care of her for a year in Scherwiller, near Selestat. Fearing she had been discovered, Bereswinda gave her baby to her friend the abbess, at the abbey of Baumes les Dames, who took over responsibility for Odile’s upbringing.

At the age of twelve years , when she baptized St Hidulphe greased her eyes which opened to the light of the world as her soul opened to the divine light. As the Bishop of Treves, on whom were dependant numerous Alsatian abbeys and seigniories, Hidulphe met often with Duke Adalric, and sought in vain to convince him to consent to his daughter’s return, telling him of her miraculous recovery.

Odile’s brother Hugo, took it upon himself to bring her home. When Odile reached Obernai, accompanied by a fervent following, Adalric overcome by another attack of uncontrollable violence, struck his son over the head and killed him.

Seized by the horror of his crime, he converted and accepted Odile’s religious vocation. Some legendary accounts lead us to suppose that the terrible duke’s conversion was not immediate: Actually it seems he tried to have Odile married off, as she was very beautiful, above all in the hopes of forming an advantageous alliance, but the girl refused. Finally, however he founded the abbey, donating the Castle of Hohenbourg, built on the foundations of “l’Altitona” the 750 meters high mountain, which hosted a roman fortress and had also harboured a Celtic settlement in its time.

Odile went to live there, contributing to the ten year long construction of the convent. She was later joined by other young women, with whom she shared a life of prayer, study and the reproduction of sacred texts, manual labour, and assistance to the less fortunate.

St Odile nourished herself of barley bread and vegetables, using a bearskin spread over the paved floor to sleep, a stone as a pillow, a reference to the bear killed by David and to the cornerstone of the church.

Odile had a second convent erected at the mountain’s base. Jean Ruyr, author of “Saintes antiquités de la Vosge” in 1636, comparing many antique texts on St Odile, affirmed that the choice to build the second monastery stemmed from the desire to spare the invalids, who flooded to the convent, the steep climb up the mountain.

br> When Odile realized her death was drawing near, she gathered her sisters in the chapel of Saint John the Baptist, to whom she was particularly devoted in memory of the illumination of her baptism. She exhorted faith and charity to her sisters.

She died on the day of St Lucy, December 13 in year 722. Her body buried in the chapel. Her tomb and Mont Saint Odile immediately aroused great interest and great fervour that has never since stopped. Odile, canonized in the eleventh century by Leon IX, became the uncontested patron of Alsace.

Among the abbesses who succeeded her, we recall Herrade of Landsberg, abbess from 1167 to 1195, and possibly the daughter of Lord of Landsberg whose castle can still be discerned among the ruins in the area to the south east of the mountain.

Herrade wrote the book “Hortus Deliciarum” , “the Garden of Delicacies”, an account of the history of the world, as it was known in those times, with a synthesis of the knowledge that had been acquired by the twelfth century and of daily life. The text is illustrated with 136 figures, that specialists claim were influenced by the Romanesque stain-glass found in Notre Dame of Strasbourg.

But nothing prevents us from imaging that they were created in the silence of the convent’s study by one or more nuns under the direction of the abbess. The original copy of the work was burned in 1870 when the library of Strasbourg was bombed. They remain only a few copies.

The pilgrimages of the faithful never ceased over the course of the centuries. One pilgrim, Emperor Charles IV, took one of the saint’s forearms to place in the cathedral of Prague. The nuns left the convent in1546, after it was destroyed in a fire which spared only a part of St Odile’s chapel.

The Premonstratensians oversaw the pilgrimages until the revolution. In 1831, the Bishop of Strasbourg reclaimed the mountain. The portico and the church date to the seventeenth century.

It is said that an altar in the Chapel of the Cross (11 century) contained the remains of Odile’s parents. The chapel of St Odile (12- 14 century) was erected to take the place of the chapel in which the saint had died.

Her relics are still venerated in the eighth century sarcophagus. The Chapel of Tears, built over the monastery’s ancient cemetery, takes its name from the tears Odile spilled begging for salvation of her terrible father.

From the terrace one can embrace Alsace, as Odile and her sisters once did….

The Pagan Wall

Its relatively recent name expresses the antiquity of the vestiges of this gigantic and mysterious fortification that extends through dense forest and along the edge of Mont Saint Odile for more than ten kilometres. The enormous stone blocks, each weighing several tons, are mortised with dovetailed oak-tenons, to form a wall which measures almost two meters thick and two and a half meter high in the best conserved points. One sometimes finds some of these stone blocks in the walls of nearby castles.

The ancient defensive wall was probably built by the Celts in the sixth century B.C. at the beginning of the Iron Age.

--------------------

http://www.vinoline.net/article32.html

Mont Saint Odile

Events in Alsace.In the heart of the seventh century, Adalric, duke and sovereign of Alsace and feudatory warrior, known for its inner violence and lack of self control, murdered St Germain, abbot of Grandval in Montbeliard. In order to expiate his guilt, he built a monastery.

His wife, Bereswinda, a niece of St Leger and a fervent Christian, gave him four sons and one blind daughter Odile, born in the ducal palace of Obernai. As Odile’s father couldn’t accept the blindness of his daughter, he wanted to kill her, but his wife managed to entrust the baby to one of her servants. She took care of her for a year in Scherwiller, near Selestat. Fearing she had been discovered, Bereswinda gave her baby to her friend the abbess, at the abbey of Baumes les Dames, who took over responsibility for Odile’s upbringing.

At the age of twelve years , when she baptized St Hidulphe greased her eyes which opened to the light of the world as her soul opened to the divine light. As the Bishop of Treves, on whom were dependant numerous Alsatian abbeys and seigniories, Hidulphe met often with Duke Adalric, and sought in vain to convince him to consent to his daughter’s return, telling him of her miraculous recovery.

Odile’s brother Hugo, took it upon himself to bring her home. When Odile reached Obernai, accompanied by a fervent following, Adalric overcome by another attack of uncontrollable violence, struck his son over the head and killed him.

Seized by the horror of his crime, he converted and accepted Odile’s religious vocation. Some legendary accounts lead us to suppose that the terrible duke’s conversion was not immediate: Actually it seems he tried to have Odile married off, as she was very beautiful, above all in the hopes of forming an advantageous alliance, but the girl refused. Finally, however he founded the abbey, donating the Castle of Hohenbourg, built on the foundations of “l’Altitona” the 750 meters high mountain, which hosted a roman fortress and had also harboured a Celtic settlement in its time.

Odile went to live there, contributing to the ten year long construction of the convent. She was later joined by other young women, with whom she shared a life of prayer, study and the reproduction of sacred texts, manual labour, and assistance to the less fortunate.

St Odile nourished herself of barley bread and vegetables, using a bearskin spread over the paved floor to sleep, a stone as a pillow, a reference to the bear killed by David and to the cornerstone of the church.

Odile had a second convent erected at the mountain’s base. Jean Ruyr, author of “Saintes antiquités de la Vosge” in 1636, comparing many antique texts on St Odile, affirmed that the choice to build the second monastery stemmed from the desire to spare the invalids, who flooded to the convent, the steep climb up the mountain.

br> When Odile realized her death was drawing near, she gathered her sisters in the chapel of Saint John the Baptist, to whom she was particularly devoted in memory of the illumination of her baptism. She exhorted faith and charity to her sisters.

She died on the day of St Lucy, December 13 in year 722. Her body buried in the chapel. Her tomb and Mont Saint Odile immediately aroused great interest and great fervour that has never since stopped. Odile, canonized in the eleventh century by Leon IX, became the uncontested patron of Alsace.

Among the abbesses who succeeded her, we recall Herrade of Landsberg, abbess from 1167 to 1195, and possibly the daughter of Lord of Landsberg whose castle can still be discerned among the ruins in the area to the south east of the mountain.

Herrade wrote the book “Hortus Deliciarum” , “the Garden of Delicacies”, an account of the history of the world, as it was known in those times, with a synthesis of the knowledge that had been acquired by the twelfth century and of daily life. The text is illustrated with 136 figures, that specialists claim were influenced by the Romanesque stain-glass found in Notre Dame of Strasbourg.

But nothing prevents us from imaging that they were created in the silence of the convent’s study by one or more nuns under the direction of the abbess. The original copy of the work was burned in 1870 when the library of Strasbourg was bombed. They remain only a few copies.

The pilgrimages of the faithful never ceased over the course of the centuries. One pilgrim, Emperor Charles IV, took one of the saint’s forearms to place in the cathedral of Prague. The nuns left the convent in1546, after it was destroyed in a fire which spared only a part of St Odile’s chapel.

The Premonstratensians oversaw the pilgrimages until the revolution. In 1831, the Bishop of Strasbourg reclaimed the mountain. The portico and the church date to the seventeenth century.

It is said that an altar in the Chapel of the Cross (11 century) contained the remains of Odile’s parents. The chapel of St Odile (12- 14 century) was erected to take the place of the chapel in which the saint had died.

Her relics are still venerated in the eighth century sarcophagus. The Chapel of Tears, built over the monastery’s ancient cemetery, takes its name from the tears Odile spilled begging for salvation of her terrible father.

From the terrace one can embrace Alsace, as Odile and her sisters once did….

The Pagan Wall

Its relatively recent name expresses the antiquity of the vestiges of this gigantic and mysterious fortification that extends through dense forest and along the edge of Mont Saint Odile for more than ten kilometres. The enormous stone blocks, each weighing several tons, are mortised with dovetailed oak-tenons, to form a wall which measures almost two meters thick and two and a half meter high in the best conserved points. One sometimes finds some of these stone blocks in the walls of nearby castles.

The ancient defensive wall was probably built by the Celts in the sixth century B.C. at the beginning of the Iron Age.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adalrich,_Duke_of_Alsace

Adalrich (died after 683), also known as Eticho,[1] was the Duke of Alsace, the founder of the family of the Etichonids, and an important and influential figure in the power politic of late seventh-century Austrasia.

Adalrich's family originated in the pagus Attoariensis[2] around Dijon in northern Burgundy. In the mid-seventh century they began to be major founders and patrons of monasteries in the region under a duke named Amalgar and his wife Aquilina.[3] They founded a convent at Brégille and an abbey for men at Bèze, installing children in both abbacies. They were succeeded by their third child, Adalrich,[4] who was the father of Adalrich, Duke of Alsace.

Civil war of 675–679

Adalrich first enters history as a member of the faction of nobles which invited Childeric II to take the kingship of Neustria and Burgundy in 673 after the death of Chlothar III. He married Berswinda, a relative of Leodegar, the famous Bishop of Autun, whose party he supported in the civil war which followed Childeric's assassination two years later (675). Adalrich was duke by March 675, when Childeric had granted him honores in Alsace with the title of dux and asked him to transfer some land to the recently-founded (c. 662) abbey at Gregoriental[5] on behalf of Abbot Valedio. This grant was most probably the result of his support for Childeric in Burgundy, which had often disputed possession of Alsace with Austrasia. Later writers saw Adalrich as the successor in Alsace of Duke Boniface. After Childeric's assassination, Adalrich threw his support behind Dagobert II for the Austrasian throne.

Adalrich abandoned Leodegar and went over to Ebroin, the mayor of the palace of Neustria, sometime before 677, when he appears as an ally of Theuderic, who granted him the monastery of Bèze.[6] Taking advantage of the assassination of Hector of Provence in 679 to bid for power in Provence, he marched on Lyon but failed to take it and, returning to Alsace, switched his support to the Austrasians once more, only to find himself dispossessed of his lands in Alsace by King Theuderic III, an ally (and puppet) of Ebroin's who had opposed Dagobert in Austrasia since 675, who gave them to the Abbey of Bèze that year (679).

[edit] Power in Alsace

Adalrich maintained his power in a restricted dukedom which did not encompass land west of the Vosges as it had under Boniface and his predecessors. This land was a part of the kingdoms of Neustria and Burgundy, and only the land between the Vosges and the Rhine south to the Sornegau, later Alsace proper, remained with Austrasia under Adalrich. The west of Vosges was under duke Theotchar.

In Alsace, however, the civil war had resulted in a curtailed royal power and Adalrich's influence and authority, though restricted in territory, was augmented in practical scope. After the war, parts of the Frankish kingdom saw a more powerful viceregal hand under the exercise of the mayors of the palaces, while other regions were even less directly affected by the royal prerogative. The Merovingian palace at Marlenheim in Alsace was never visited by a royal figure again in Adalrich's lifetime. While southern Austrasia had been the centre of Wulfoald's power, the Arnulflings were a north Austrasian family, who took scarce interest in Alsatian affairs until the 730s and 740s.

Adalrich had initially made his allies counts, but in 683 he granted the comital office to his son and eventual successor Adalbert. By controlling monasteries and counties in the family, Adalrich built up a powerful regional duchy to pass on to his Etichonid heirs.

[edit] Relationship with monasteries

Adalrich had a rocky relationship with the monasteries of his realm, upon which he relied for his power. He is infamous for the suppression of that of Grandval and for lording it over monasteries, including his own foundations. According to the Life of Germanus of Grandval, Adalrich "wickedly began oppressing the people in the vicinity [Sornegau] of the monastery and to allege that they had always been rebels against his predecessors." He removed the centenarius ruling in the region and replaced him with his own man, Count Ericho. He exiled the people of the Sornegau, who denied being rebels against previous dukes. Many of the people exiled from the valley were attached to Grandval and could not thus be exiled. Adalrich marched into the valley of the Sornegau with a large army of Alemanni at one end while his lieutenant Adalmund entered with a host by the other. The abbot, Germanus himself, and his provost Randoald met Adalrich with books and relics in order to persuade him not to make violence. The duke granted a wadium,[7] a device of recompense or promise, and offered thus to spare the valley devastation, but for unknown reasons Germanus refused it. The region was ravaged.

Perhaps as penance for his relationship to the deaths of two future saints, Leodegar and Germanus of Grandval, or perhaps out of a secret desire — disclosed it is said to his intimate friends — to found a place to the service of God and take up the religious life, Adalrich founded two monasteries in north central Alsace between 680 and 700: Ebersheim in honour of Saint Maurice and Hohenburg on the site of an old Roman fort (of the emperor Maximian) discovered by his huntsmen and which he appropriated for his own military uses. Adalrich's daughter Odilia served as Hohenburg's first abbess and was later named patron saint of Alsace by Pope Pius VII in 1807.

[edit] Veneration as a saint

His daughter Odilia was reputedly born blind, which Adalrich took as a punishment for some offence done to God. In order to save face with his retainers, he tried to persuade his wife to kill the infant child in secret. Berswinda instead sent the child into hiding with a maid at the monastery of Palma. According to the Life of Odilia, a bishop named Erhard baptised the adolescent girl and smeared a chrism on her eyes, which miraculously restored her sight.

The bishop tried to restore the duke's relationship with his daughter, but Adalrich, fearing the effect of admitting to having a daughter hiding in poverty in a monastery would have on his subjects, refused. A son of his, ignoring Adalrich's orders, brought his sister back to Hohenburg, where Adalrich was holding court. When Odilia arrived, Adalrich, in a rage, struck a blow with his sceptre to his son's head, accidentally killing him. Disgraced, he reluctant allowed Odilia to live in the monastery, which had not abbess, with a minimal wage under a British nun.

Towards the end of his life he was reconciled to her and made her the first abbess of his foundation, handing the abbey over as if it were private property.[8] Through his daughter Adalrich was reconciled to God and as early as the twelfth century was regarded as a saint with a local cult. His burial garments were displayed to pilgrims in his foundation at Hohenburg and a feast day was celebrated annually by the nuns. The portrayal of Adalrich as a nobleman who became holy while retaining his noble status and rank was very popular in the Rhineland and as far away as Bavaria in the Middle Ages. The Life probably sought to show how by simply maltreating a blind daughter in order to save face, Adalrich ended up far more dishonoured than he otherwise would have.

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Saint Odile, Abbess of Strasbourg's Timeline

672
672
Alsace, Lorraine, France
722
December 13, 722
Age 50
Alsace, Lorraine, France
????
Patron Saint of Alsace
????