WHO WAS ST. ODILO?

St. Odilo was a Benedictine monk who became the 5th Abbot of the famous Abbey of Cluny, in France. Born in the French town of Auvergne in 962, Odilo entered the Abbey of Cluny to follow his vocation as a monk of the Order of St.. Benedict, and very soon showed outstanding qualities of leadership and organization. In the year 991, the 4th Abbot of Cluny, St. Majolus, chose Odilo as his coadjutor; by the year 994 Odilo was the acting Abbot. He served as Abbot of Cluny for' 50 years - from 999 until his death on January 1, 1049 A.D.

His biographers tell us he was a little man, of insignificant appearance but immense force of character. He had great devotion to the Incarnation and to our Blessed Mother. Odilo made certain that the necessary discipline of a monastic community remained strict by periodically and constantly visiting all the monasteries subject to his authority. But like his Divine Master, he always mingled authority with humility, and his commands were always tempered with love. Consequently, monastic life was given greater stability because of Odilo's leadership, and there was never again any danger of monasticism dying from internal corruption.

Odilo left another legacy of a different kind. About the year 1030 A.D. he began the practice of commemorating the dead of his own monastery and its dependent houses the day after the Feast of All Saints. Due to the powerful influence of the Abbey of Cluny throughout Europe, this custom spread and was finally adopted universally in the Latin Church. Thus November 2 is observed as All Souls' Day because of St. Odilo. (The window above the Church entrance depicts St. Odilo holding the Body and Blood of Jesus during the Sacrifice of the Mass, the merits of which help those in Purgatory attain any final purification necessary for being admitted to the Blessed Vision of God.)

Like any saint,  Odilo was always concerned with helping the poor not only after this life but while they are struggling here on earth. He went so far as to sell the holy treasures of the monastery during the famine of 1033, using the proceeds to help the poor and suffering.

Returning from one of his many visitations of monasteries in Italy, Odilo died in the Abbey of Souvigny on January 1, 1049 A. D. at the age of 87. Fourteen years later, 1063, he was canonized to become our Saint Odilo.

Cardinal Mundelein commissioned Father William J. Roberts in April of 1927 to establish a new parish in Berwyn under the patronage of St. Odilo and officially honored the parish church as "The National Shrine of the Souls in Purgatory" and so quite affectionately we name our weekly bulletin "The Shrine".

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