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Odilo of Cluny, St.


Fifth abbot of Cluny; b. Auvergne, France, 962; d. Abbey of Souvigny, Jan. 1, 1049. He was a member of the Mercoeur family who became a cleric at Saint-Julien in Brioude and later requested the monastic habit at cluny, which at that time was governed by (St.) majolus of cluny, fourth abbot there. Odilo, chosen by Majolus as coadjutor in 991, was the acting abbot by 994 and showed immediately his outstanding qualities of leadership and organization. His 50 years as abbot (9991049) were characterized by an ever-growing number of Cluniac daughter houses and properties grouped into an "order" under his firm authority (see cluniac reform). This formation of an "order" was one of the consequences of exemption, for Cluny centralized under itself all monasteries that had received the privilege of temporal immunity and exemption from episcopal power granted by gregory v in 998 or 999, and confirmed by Pope john xix in 1027. The papacy always upheld the monks of Cluny in any resulting conflicts of jurisdiction, for it recognized clearly the importance of monasticism in strengthening papal authority, in fighting simony (see gregorian reform), and in spreading Christianity, e.g., in Spain.

Odilo's diplomatic activity is well known. He received the imperial insignia from Emperor henry ii, to whom he had been counselor since 1002. Cluny listed Henry in the necrology of the abbey after the emperor's death in 1024. Odilo was equally loyal to the Capetian monarchy; he was able to be the mediator between Emperor conrad ii and the king of France, Robert II, in 1025. Such political activity shows that Cluny and its abbots were not basically opposed to seignorialism, even if relations between Odilo and Emperor Henry III were less than cordial.

About 1030 to 1031 the abbot established the commemoration of all souls' day for his own monastery and dependent houses. This was later adopted by the universal Church. In 1041 Odilo favored the extension of the Truce of God. He was always concerned with helping the poor, going so far as to sell the holy treasures of the monastery during a famine in 1033. Odilo pursued the building of Cluny to such an extent that his biographer Jotsaldus [ed. F. Ermini, Studi medievali 1 (1928) 401405] wrote that he had "renewed everything at Cluny except the walls of the church" (see cluniac art and architecture). About 1042 the abbey was inhabited by about 75 religious.

His writings include Vita S. Maioli (Marrier-Duchesne, 279290; Patrologia Latina 142:943962), Epitaphium Adalheidae (Marrier-Duchesne, 353369; Monumenta Germaniae Historica Scriptores 4:633645), letters (Marrier-Duchesne, 349354; Patrologia Latina 142: 939944), sermons (Marrier-Duchesne, 371408; Patrologia Latina 142: 9911036), and Medicina spiritualis contra temptationem concupiscentiae carnalis (ed. G. Morin, Revue Bénédictine 16[1899] 477478). He wrote also a hymn in honor of St. Majolus, Maiolus pater inclitus (ed. G. Morin, Revue Bénédictine 38 [1926] 56). Other hymns are found in Patrologia Latina 142:961964 and Analecta hymnica 50 (1907) 297301; several fragments are in Patrologia Latina 142:103538.

Odilo died after one of his numerous trips to Italy, and was succeeded by hugh of cluny. He was canonized in 1063.

Feast: Jan. 1 (French Benedictines); April 29 (general).

Bibliography: Works. Bibliotheca cluniacensis, ed. m. marrier and a. duchesne (Paris 1614; repr. Mâcon 1915). Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v. (Paris 187890). a. bruel, ed., Recueil des chartes de l'abbaye de Cluny, 6 v. (Paris 18761903) 3:190821; 4:1174, 825827. Literature . m. manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, 3 v. (Munich 191113), 2:138142. b. bligny, L'Église et les ordres religieux dans le royaume de Bourgogne aux XI e et XII e siècles (Grenoble 1960). j. hourlier, Saint Odilon, abbé de Cluny (Louvain 1964). p. chaudagne, Saint Odilon (Souvigny 1972).

[r. grÉgoire]

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