France: Grand Jubilee of St. Odile, Patroness of Alsace

February 10, 2021

The opening of the Jubilee of Saint Odile, on the occasion of the 1300 years of the birth to heaven of the patroness of Alsace, took place on Sunday, December 13, 2020. At Mont Sainte-Odile, Msgr. Luc Ravel, Archbishop of Strasbourg, opened the Great Jubilee door which leads to the tomb of St. Odile.

Daughter of Aldaric, Duke of Alsace, St. Odile founded the first monastery of women in Alsace, at an altitude of 753 meters, and was called to God in the midst of her sisters, in her monastery at Hohenbourg, on December 13, 720. The closing of the Jubilee will take place on December 13, 2021.

The Sanctuary hostel, restaurant, pilgrims hall, and kiosk are closed until further notice. This is why the opening of the Jubilee was held in a small committee, and was broadcast live on the Facebook page of the diocese of Strasbourg and on RCF Alsace.

Five jubilee paths have been set up in the heart of the sanctuary. Spiritual itineraries, they are dedicated to baptism, forgiveness, the life of prayer, charity, and the Eucharist. These themes are inspired by the Vita Sanctæ Odiliæ, the Life of St. Odile, a manuscript from the year 950 which is the oldest account of the life of the saint, written in Latin by an anonymous author and kept in the library of the monastery of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Born blind around 662 in Obernai, in the Bas-Rhin, during the time of Emperor Chidéric, Odile was rejected by her father Aldaric. Driven by the shame of having a disabled daughter, the Duke of Alsace orders that she be killed or sent to where he would never see her.

Duchess Persinda gave the child to a nanny. After a year, the nanny took refuge with the child in the monastery of Palma, on Persinda’s advice. Msgr. Erhard of Regensburg, a Bavarian bishop, during his stay with the nuns, received a heavenly monition: he must go to Palma where he would find a young blind girl who had not yet been baptized.

He obeyed, baptized Odile, and beheld the young girl’s eyes opening to the light under the anointing of holy chrism! The bishop explained to the community the revelations he had received and urged the nuns to take care of this virgin consecrated to Christ.

Odile went on to help the most underprivileged by dedicating herself to God and by founding a monastery in Hohenbourg. The sisters of Hohenbourg are not nuns, but canonesses, following a rule inspired by St. Augustine.

She would also found Niedermünster Abbey at the foot of the mountain, to welcome sick pilgrims who could not climb the slope to Hohenbourg Abbey. She built there a church dedicated to St. Martin, and a hospice for the sick.

She dedicated her life to praying for the repose of her father’s soul, that he would be delivered from the flames of purgatory. In the convent is the Chapel of Tears where Odile came to pray for him. It is for this that she is also invoked for the deliverance of souls in purgatory.

The spirituality of the Merovingian saint continues to shine in this unique place. Canonized in the 11th century by Pope Leo IX, in 1946, Pope Pius XII proclaimed St. Odile as the “patron saint of Alsace.” Charles IV (1316-1378), King of Bohemia, while visiting the convent in 1354, had her sarcophagus opened and took the forearm of the saint to deposit this relic in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

Conditions for receiving a plenary indulgence during the jubilee of St. Odile are confession within eight days before or after a visit; reception of communion; prayers for the intentions of the pope said in one of the places of the St. Odile basilica (church, Chapel of the Tomb, Chapel of the Cross, St. Attale chapel).

The prayers for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff or the Apostolic See consists of a Pater and an Ave (or another prayer). The traditional intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff are: the exaltation of the Catholic Church, the propagation of the Faith, the eradication of heresy, the conversion of sinners, peace and concord between Christian princes, the other needs of the Christian people.

To pray for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff is to pray for those intentions. The subjective or more personal intentions of the reigning pontiff are included to the extent that they are in conformity with his divine mission.

Indulgence refers to the remission granted by ecclesiastical authority, apart from the sacrament of confession, of the temporal penalty due for sins whose fault has already been forgiven. This remission is effective before God because it draws from the treasury of the Church, which includes the infinite merits of Jesus Christ and those of all the saints.

To gain an indulgence, one must be baptized and not be excommunicated, have the intention of earning it by doing the prescribed work, be in a state of grace, and be detached from all venial sin, otherwise the indulgence is only earned partially. Indulgences are won for oneself or for the souls in Purgatory.