St. Odilo, abbot

From Butler's Lives of the Saints 1895:

HIS family was that of the lords of Mercteur, one of the most
illustrious of Auvergne. Divine grace inclined him from his infancy to
devote himself to God with his whole heart. He was very young when he
received the monastic habit at Cluni, from the hands of S. Mayeul, by
whose appointment he was made his coadjutor in 991, though only
twenty-nine years of age, and from the death of S. Mayeul in 994, our
saint was charged with the entire government of that great abbey. He
labored to subdue his carnal appetites by rigorous fasting, wearing
hair-cloth next his skin, and studded iron chains. Notwithstanding
those austerities practised on himself, his carriage to others was
most mild and humane. It was usual with him to say, that of two
extremes, he chose rather to offend by tenderness, than a too rigid
severity. In a great famine in 1006, his liberality to the poor was by
many censured as profuse; for he melted down the sacred vessels and
ornaments, and sold the gold crown S. Henry made a present of to that
abbey, to relieve their necessities. He accompanied that prince in his
journey to Rome when he was crowned emperor, in 1014. This was his
second journey thither; he made a third in 1017, and a fourth in
1022. Out of devotion to S. Bennet he paid a visit to Mount Cassino,
where he begged leave, with the greatest earnestness, to kiss the feet
of all the monks, which was granted him with great difficulty. Besides
the journeys which the reformation he established in many monasteries
obliged him to undertake, he made one to Orbe, to wait on the empress
Alice. That pious princess burst into tears upon seeing him, and
taking hold of his habit, kissed it, and applied it to her eyes, and
declared to him she should die in a {070} very short time. This was in
999, and she died on the 16th of December the same year. Massacres and
plunders were so common in that age, by the right which every petty
lord pretended of revenging his own injuries and quarrels by private
wars, that the treaty called the truce of God was set on foot. By
this, among other articles, it was agreed, that churches should be
sanctuaries to all sorts of persons, except those that violated this
truce; and that from Wednesday till Monday morning no one should offer
violence to any one, not even by way of satisfaction for any injustice
he had received. This truce met with the greatest difficulties among
the Neustrians, but was at length received and observed in most
provinces of France, through the exhortations and endeavors of
St. Odilo, and B. Richard, abbot of St. Vanne's, who were charged with
this commission.[1] Prince Casimir, son of Miceslaw, king of Poland,
retired to Cluni, where he professed the monastic state, and was
ordained deacon. He was afterwards, by a solemn deputation of the
nobility, called to the crown. St. Odilo referred the matter to pope
Benedict IX., with whose dispensation Casimir mounted the throne in
1041, married, had several children, and reigned till his death in

St. Odilo being moved by several visions, instituted the annual
commemoration of all the faithful departed, to be observed by the
members of his community with alms, prayers, and sacrifices, for the
relief of the suffering souls in purgatory; and this charitable devotion
he often much recommended. He was very devout to the Blessed Virgin; and
above all sacred mysteries, that of the divine Incarnation employed his
particular attention. As the monks were singing that verse in the
church, "thou being to take upon thee to deliver man, didst not abhor
the womb of a virgin;" melting away with the tenderest emotions of love,
he fell to the ground; the ecstatic agitations of his body bearing
evidence to that heavenly fire which glowed in his soul. Most of his
sermons and little poems extant, treat of the mysteries of our
redemption, or of the Blessed Virgin.[3] He excelled in an eminent
spirit of compunction, and contemplation. While he was at prayer,
trickling tears often watered his cheeks. Neither importunities nor
compulsion could prevail upon him to submit to his being elected
archbishop of Lyons in 1031. Having patiently suffered during five years
the most painful diseases, he died of the cholic, at Souvigny, a priory
in Bourbonnois, while employed in the visitation of his monasteries,
January 1, 1049, being then eighty-seven years old, and having been
fifty-six years abbot. He would be carried to the church, to assist at
the divine office, even in his agony; and having received the viaticum
and extreme-unction the day before, he expired on sackcloth strewed with
ashes on the ground. See his life, by his disciple Lotsald, as also, by
St. Peter Damian, who wrote it soon after the saint's death, at the
request of St. Hugh of Cluni, his successor, in Bollandus, and
Bibliotheca Cluniacensis by Dom Marrier, and in Andrew Duchesne, fol.
Paris, 1614. See likewise certain epistles of St. Odilo, ib., and
fourteen Sermons on the festivals of our Lord, the B. Virgin, &c., in
Bibl. Patr. Lugdun. an. 1677, T. 17, p. 653.

1. Glaber, monk of Cluni, in his history which he dedicated to St.
Odilo, l. 4, c. 5, l. 5, c. 1.
2. Mab. Annal. l. 57, n. 45. Solignac, Hist. de Pologne, t. 1.
3. Ceillier demonstrates, (T. 20, p. 258,) against Basnage, (observ. in
vit. Adelaid. T. 3, le t. Canis, p. 71,) that the life of St. Alice
the empress is the work of St. Odilo, no less than the life of St.
Mayeul. We have four letters, some poems, and several sermons of
this saint in the library of Cluni, (p. 370,) and in that of the
Fathers, (T. 17, p. 653.) Two other sermons hear his name in
Martenn{} (Anned. T. 5.)

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