St. Othilia, Virgin and Abbess

December 13

Also known as

Odilia of Hohenbourg
Odilia of Hohenburg
Adilia of….
Odile of….
Odilia of….
Othilia of….
Ottilia of….

Died

# 13 December 720 at Niedermunster, Mount Sainte Odile, Germany of natural causes
# reported to have returned briefly to life to tell her sisters about the beauty of heaven, and to take communion one last time
# buried in a chapel near the convent church on the Odilienberg

Patronage

against eye disease
against eye problems
Alsace, France (proclaimed in 1807 by Pope Pius VII)

Representation

abbess praying before an altar
larkspur (associated with the herbal healing of eye problems)
rooster, a symbol of vigilance
woman with a book on which are two eyes


Born blind to the family of the Duke of Alsace Lord Aldaric (aka Etichon, aka Athich) and Bereswinda; because she was a girl and disabled, the family decided to put her out. Rather that having her killed, she was given to a peasant family. Taken in by a convent at age twelve, she gained her sight upon being touched by chrism during her baptism by Saint Erhard of Regensburg. Her brother wanted her back for use in an arranged marriage; when he heard of his son’s machinations and Odilia’s miraculous healing, her father was so angry that he struck and killed the brother. Odilia raised her brother back to life, then fled to the convent to escape the marriage. Her father followed her, but when a mountain opened a cave to hide her, and then dropped rocks on him, he gave up the idea. She joined the abbey, and eventually became abbess. Founded the Hohenburg Abbey on the Odilienberg mountain in Alsace.

Saint Odilia

About the year 300, Saint Odilia and ten other virgins set out from England on a pilgrimage to the East. By accident or plan the ship in which they sailed went up the Rhine. They were captured by some soldiers and taken to Cologne. There the young women were killed in defense of their Christian faith and their purity. St. Odilia's future role as the Patroness of the Order of the Holy Cross is pictured by the Crosier standard and her motto, "I have chosen the cross."

St. Louis of France helps found the Parish House

The Paris house of the Crosiers is very important in the history of Saint Odilia. It was here that she appeared to John of Eppa with her special message. The Crosier community was founded in Paris in 1258. King St. Louis was particularly interested in the Order of the Holy Cross because of his great devotion to the Passion of Christ. Construction of the Church was begun about the year 1268.

Saint Odilia appears to Brother John in Paris

In the spring of 1287, Saint Odilia appeared three times to Brother John of Eppa, a Crosier lay brother, in the Paris monastery. She told him that God had commanded her to be the Protectress of the Order and where her relics were to be found. Brother John and his companion, Father Louis, journeyed to Cologne and the garden of Arnulph where the relics were buried.

Saint Odilia's relics are found and taken to Huy

After overcoming the skepticism of Arnulph, the two Crosiers began to dig around the pear tree in his garden where Odilia said the relics were to be found. Three urns were unearthed containing the remains of Odilia, Ida and Emma. Many cures took place through the intercession of Saint Odilia. The newly-discovered relics were taken to the mother house of the Crosiers at Huy, Belgium, with great solemnity.

Persecuted by the world, The Order loses the relics

The Order suffered much during the Protestant Revolt, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. The Mother house at Huy was destroyed but a priest managed to escape with the relics of St. Odilia. They were to remain in a parish church in Kerniel, Belgium, for many years.

The relics of Saint Odilia are returned to the Order

In 1949, the relics of Saint Odilia were returned from the parish church at Kerniel where they had been since the French Revolution, to the care of the Order of the Holy Cross. They were taken in solemn procession from Kermiel to the Crosier monastery at Diest, Belgium as shown in these windows. In 1952 a major relic of Saint Odilia was brought to Onamia, Minnesota. A shrine in honor of the Patroness of the Order and the Patroness of the blind and afflicted was then set up in the seminary chapel.

Shrine of Saint Odilia

It was a long, long time ago, in the fourth century, that Odilia, the daughter of a powerful ruler of Britain, went to her martyrdom at Cologne, Germany, together with Ursula and a group of other virgins. These virgins were seeking a place where they might practice their faith in peace and quiet, but at the gates of Cologne they were met by fierce and cruel barbarians. The life-story of these valiant women ends here. They chose death.

The work of the Saints in heaven, though sometimes unseen and unheralded, is richer by far than it was on earth. So it was with Saint Odilia. About eight hundred years later, in 1287, she appeared to John Novelan, a lay brother of the Crosier Order in Paris, and told him she had been appointed by God to be the Patron Saint and Protectress of the members of the Order of the Holy Cross (now commonly called Crosier Fathers). She informed him also that her relics were to be found in an orchard in Cologne and begged him to get permission to unearth them. He did ask permission of his superior but was refused. Saint Odilia was persistent; she appeared twice more. Finally the Prior consented and commanded a priest of the Order to accompany the brother.

When these two reached Cologne, they had little trouble finding the relics. Joyfully they informed the Archbishop, who came personally to witness the findings.

Saint Odilia had instructed Brother John that her relics were to be taken to the Motherhouse of the Order at Huy in Belgium. Both at Cologne and on the way to Huy various cures took place, of blindness, of paralysis and other bodily infirmities.

In 1797, at the time of the French Revolution, the monastery at Huy was totally destroyed; and although the relics were saved they were lost to the Order. Fortunately, just recently, in 1949, Saint Odilia "came back home". Her relics were returned to the order, and a large portion of one of her bones was brought to Onamia, Minnesota, and now rests in her Shrine here. It can be viewed by entering the Shrine, where it is encased in a marble reliquary. Saint Odilia has promised to shower a stream of graces upon the Crosier Fathers and upon all those who invoke her aid in their hour of need. For centuries it has been the practice in the Crosier Order to bless water in honor of Saint Odilia, dipping her relic in it and asking God to give it "power against all diseases and bodily infirmities". Many are the cures, especially of diseases of the eyes, obtained through her intercession.

Thousands of people, from every state, send in their petitions to be included in the novenas, and many letters of thanks are received from people whose favors have been granted. Apparently Saint Odilia is kept busy in heaven showering graces and blessings upon her friends on earth.

Retreat

In July of each year, the Crosier Fathers and Brothers offer a one-day healing retreat, focusing on Saint Odilia, Patroness of the Blind and Afflicted and Patroness of the Crosiers. This retreat is held at the National Shrine of Saint. Odilia in Onamia, Minnesota.

Novena

Novenas in honor of Saint Odilia are made at Crosier Monastery twice a month, beginning on the 5th and 17th of each month, and the national novena is held from July 10-July 18.



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"DRAW US, ODILIA, TO HEALING IN CHRIST


Novena in honor of Saint Odilia

First Day

All powerful Father, you alone are Holy; without you nothing is good. I come before you, trusting in your love for me and praying to you through the intercession of St. Odilia, Virgin and Martyr. I ask you to help me become the person you have called me to be. I ask this with the same trust that inspired St. Odilia to leave her home in order to follow Christ more closely. Father, increase my confidence in your love for me, and, if it be your will, grant my special request. I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.
Our Father....Hail Mary....St. Odilia, pray for us.

Second Day

Lord, Our God, for the glory of your name, you gave St. Odilia the courage to give her life in martyrdom as a witness to Christ. Through her intercession to help me to know your will and give me the courage to do it, so that I may be true to Christ until my death. If it be your will for me, grant my special prayer and let me come one day to live with Christ in glory, with St. Odilia and all the saints. I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.

Our Father....Hail Mary....St. Odilia, pray for us.

Third Day

Father, I ask through the intercession of St. Odilia, that I may grow stronger as a Christian. Help me to see myself as a pilgrim in this world, a person called to respect and love all, a sinner who has been saved by you. I ask you, Father, to grant my special petition, if it be your will, and to give me a greater love for your Son, Jesus Christ so that I may no longer live for myself, but may only strive to please you in all I do. I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.

Our Father....Hail Mary....St. Odilia, pray for us.

Fourth Day

Merciful Father, I have failed in my life because of my weakness. As a sinner, I come before you to ask your forgiveness. I ask through the intercession of St. Odilia and all your holy people, to be restored anew to your love. Give me holiness of soul and body, and bring me into your divine life. May I obtain these favors, as well as my special prayer, if that be your will for me, through the merits of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.

Our Father....Hail Mary....St. Odilia, pray for us.

Fifth Day

Father, source of salvation for all people, I praise you that through the intercession of St. Odilia, the patroness of the eyes, so many people have been strengthened in the faith that made her so loyal to Christ, your Son. Through her prayers, many have been cured of blindness and other ailments of the eyes. I ask, Father, that you let me become a sign of your love for all people, and, if it be your will for me, that my special request be granted. I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.

Our Father....Hail Mary....St. Odilia, pray for us.

Sixth Day

God and Father of all gifts, I praise you, the source of all I am and have. I thank you for your kindness, and especially for the gifts many have received through the help of St. Odilia. Through her intercession, may you be my strength in adversity, my health in weakness, my comfort in sorrow. I know, Father, that you will never forget me and my plea. Because of this, I know that you, Father, will give me the strength to give myself in greater service to you and my neighbor. I ask for all of these things, and my special prayer, if that be your will for me, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.

Our Father....Hail Mary....St. Odilia, pray for us.

Seventh Day

Ever-living God, hear the prayers of all who recall the example of St. Odilia. She sacrificed all she had to you. Guide me on my way; help me grow in my imitation of St. Odilia, so that I can keep my soul free from all defilement, and so that I can become ever more the temple of your spirit. Grant that I may one day live with you and all the saints in heaven. I ask you to grant this, and my special request, if this be your will for me, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.

Our Father....Hail Mary....St. Odilia, pray for us.

Eight Day

Lord God, Almighty Father, May I follow the witness of St. Odilia, who chose to follow the Cross, the Sign through which you have given all life and hope. I ask you, Father, to awaken in my life a desire to follow Jesus and to choose the Cross as my sign of strength in sorrow, of joy in tribulation, of life through death. I ask that you grant this, and my special petition if that be your will for me, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.

Our Father....Hail Mary....St. Odilia, pray for us.

Ninth Day

O god of love, your Son has shown us the way of accepting your will. Hear my prayers, through the intercession of St. Odilia, the patroness of the Order of the Holy Cross. May all who suffer pain, illness or disease realize that they are chosen to be saints, and may they come to know that they are joined in Christ in suffering for the salvation of the world. I ask you to give me the grace of imitating Christ and St. Odilia and to resign myself to your will for me. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.

Our Father....Hail Mary....St. Odilia, pray for us.


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