Odilia of Alsace

St. Odilia, 1500

Feast Day: December 13
Canonized: Pre-Congregation

Odilia, also known as Odile, was born in France in the seventh century. Her father was the Duke of Alsace. When she was still an infant, her parents realized that she was blind. Her father was so angry that he ordered his only child put to death. But Odilia’s mother convinced him to allow Odilia to be raised by nuns.

The nuns raised Odilia with faith and love. They gathered around her on the day of her baptism when she was 12 years old. As the priest blessed her with chrism, her blindness was cured. A legend about this miracle is that the priest then said to her, “Now you will see me in the kingdom of heaven.”

Odilia was welcomed home and began to get to know her family. She was a beautiful young woman, and her father planned for her to marry a rich man. Odilia wanted to become a nun and to live the life she knew so well. Her father again lost his temper and treated her badly until one day he saw her hiding a bowl of food under her cloak as she left the castle. He asked her what she was doing. Odilia explained that she was bringing food to the poor.

Odilia’s father gave her his castle to use as a convent and a place for the hungry and sick to find help. At her request, her father also built a monastery at the foot of the steep hill that led to the castle so that the elderly and lame could be cared for without a long journey uphill. Soon, Odilia’s father also built a large church so that everyone, poor or wealthy, could worship God together.

Odilia died around the year 720. She is the patron saint of anyone with eye problems. St. Odilia teaches us to see the everything we do with eyes of faith and to believe that with the Lord, anything is possible.