St. Odo of Cluny

Author: Rev. Clifford Stevens


Feast: November 18

Odo is the glory of the great abbey of Cluny, which was responsible for a huge program of monastic and clerical reform under this great abbot. He was the second abbot of Cluny but began his religious life as canon of St. Martin of Tours, to whom he always had a deep devotion. He was the son of Ebbo I, lord of Deols, and received his early education at the court of the duke of Aquitaine, then studied at Paris under Remigius of Auxerre.

While a canon of Martin of Tours, St. Odo of Cluny became acquainted with Blessed Berno, the founder of Cluny, and became a monk of the Cluniac monastery of Baume. In 927, he succeeded Berno as abbot of Cluny and it was he who obtained from Pope John XI the privilege of exemption and was authorized by him to reform the monasteries of France and Italy, where monastic observance was at a very low ebb.

So successful was he that he was called the "restorer of monasteries" and of the holy rule. It was Odo who established the Cluniac observance, which became the model of monasticism for over a century, and it was he who promoted an enthusiasm for the monastic life that would transform the religious life of Europe.

He was sent by the popes on peacemaking missions in Italy to reconcile two rulers who both had their eyes on ruling Italy. On returning from Rome in 942, he became sick and stopped at the monastery of St. Julian in Tours for the celebration of the feast day of St. Martin. He took part in the celebrations on November 11 and after a lingering illness died on November 18. During his last illness, he composed a hymn in honor of Martin.

Besides his work of monastic reform, Odo left a number of literary works and several pieces of liturgical music. His relics are kept at l'Isle-Jourdain in France.

Thought for the Day: Admiration for a saint can lead to sanctity. St. Odo of Cluny was deeply devoted to St. Martin of Tours and as a young student imitated Martin in his love of beggars. He always kept the example of Martin before his eyes and with such a model he found his own way to holiness.

From "The Catholic One Year Bible": . . . The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous.... It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.—James 3:17-18

Taken from "The One Year Book of Saints" by Rev. Clifford Stevens published by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, IN 46750.