Sunday, 13 December 2020

odile of alsace

Though no longer officially commemorated on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, Saint Odile’s cult was an extemely popular one (see previously), rapidly spreading across central Europe from the ninth century onward, with many chapels, churches and wells dedicated to the abbess born blind in France and Germany. According to her hagiography, daughter of the wealthy duke of Alsace, Etichon also called Aldaric, was bade be taken away by her mother Bethswinda to be raised by peasants in distant Burgundy rather than suffer the indignity of a handicapped child. Aged twelve, Odile was baptised, miraculously restoring her sight, prompting her brother, Hughes, to bring her back home. This reunion enraged her father so much that he let us wrath loose on both siblings, striking Hughes dead. Odile was able to revive her brother and they fled into the Rhin valley where a cliff face opened up to hide them from her father’s pursuers. Going on to found several religious communities, Odile’s father repented in his old age and endowed the abbeys his daughter had established. Expiring herself at the convent of Niedermünster in 720, Odile briefly returned from the dead at the insistent prayers of the sisterhood to describe the wonders of the afterlife, afterward taking communion alone and dying a second time. With many of the fountains associated with her credited with curing vision ailments, Odile is the patron of good eye-sight (and protector of the blind and partially-sighted) as well as the whole of the Alsace region and is sometimes venerated as a companion of Saint Lucy, with whom she shares this feast day.