Judith of Niederaltaich, Bl.

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Widow and recluse; d. before 800. There is considerable debate regarding the identity of Judith and her companion, St. Salome. They may have been cousins (or Judith the aunt of Salome) of Anglo-Saxon royal lineage, who lived for a considerable period as recluses under Abbot Walther (or Walker) in Oberaltaich-am-Donau. A later tradition identifies Salome as Edburga, daughter of King Offa of Mercia, who was exiled for accidentally poisoning her husband and befriended by the Bavarian widow, Judith. Relics of both were later disinterred and buried near the altar of St. Giles. It is thought that their bodies came to Niederaltaich on the occasion of the destruction of Oberaltaich by the Hungarians.

Another report states that the two recluses lived in niederaltaich about 1100. The altar of St. Giles is here rather than in Oberaltaich, and Walker was abbot here from 1069 to 1098. According to this version, while in the neighborhood of Regensburg after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land Salome became blind, allegedly in answer to prayer, asking for this affliction to escape from sinful proposals. She lived by begging. Once she fell into the Danube and was rescued by a passing ship, which took her to Passau. Afflicted with leprosy, she was recommended to the abbot of Niederaltaich, who had a recluse's cell built for her beside the monastery church. Here she was found by her blood relative and childhood playmate, Judith, who having been widowed young and having likewise gone to Jerusalem, had searched for Salome. With permission of the abbot and the chapter Judith was then also given a cell by the church of Niederaltaich. Both women worked as servants in the monastery. Both died before the end of the 11th century, Salome first. The biography dates from the 13th or 14th century. It claims that both bodies were interred in a common shrine before the altar of St. Giles; they have since been lost.

Judith and Salome were venerated in monastic martyrologies and in art but had no liturgical cult.

Feast: June 29.

Bibliography: Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquae et mediae aetatis, 2 v. (Brussels 18981901) 2:1081, 7465. Acta Sanctorum (Paris 1863) 5:492498. a. m. zimmerman, Kalendarium Benedictinum: Die Heiligen und Seligen des Benediktinerorderns und seiner Zweige (Metten 193338) 2:374, 376. r. bauerreiss, Kirchengeschichte Bayerns (St. Ottilien 194955) 2:113; Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 5:1180.

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Judith of Niederaltaich, Bl.

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