November 16 – St. Othmar

November 16 – St. Othmar

[This is a series on saints from the Benedictine family (Benedictines, Cistercians—“the Benedictine order and its branches,” to attempt a translation of Peter Lechner’s Benedictiner-Ordens und seiner Verzweigungen in the subtitle of his martyrology).  There used to be a commemoration of all saints of the Benedictine family on 13 November.  But even in the days when the liturgical calendar was much more heavily festooned with saints’ feastdays, I suspect there were many monastic saints who had been lost to memory.  This series tries to introduce or re-introduce us to at least a few in this monastic cloud of witnesses.]

[Image: Library of St. Gall Abbey, Switzerland.  The Rococo version of the library was constructed between 1758-1767.  But since reading (lectio divina) is essential to the monastic charism, the monastic community of St. Othmar’s day would have prized the ideal of a strong library.]

[The following is from Alexius Hoffmann’s A Benedictine Martyrology: Being a Revision of Rev. Peter Lechner’s Ausführliches Martyrologium Des Benedictiner-Ordens Und Seiner Verzweigungen (Collegeville, Minnesota: St. John’s Abbey Press, 1922)]

 

“St. Othmar, abbot of St. Gall’s in Switzerland, was a native of Suabia and early in life found opportunity to pursue studies under the patronage of Count Victor.  He entered the monastery of St. Gall and was ordained a priest.  Several years after (720), he was sent to minister to the faithful at Remosch in the canton of Grisons.  After he had labored here for some time, Waltram of Thurgau appointed abbot of the monks at the cell of St. Gall.  These monks still followed the rule of St. Columban and did not live under one roof until Othamar collected them and introduced the cenobitic manner of life.  To the monastery he added a hospital, or hospice, and a school, and at the instance of Pepin substituted the Rule of St. Benedict for that of St. Columban.  Othemar performed the responsible duties of an abbot according to the heart of St. Benedict; taught by his word and his living example, observed strict fasts, and was solicitous for the welfare of the poor.  Many a time he came to the monastery from a visit to the poor without his outer garments.  His liberality was amply repaid by donations of lands and moneys.  Counts Warin of Thurgau and Rudhart of Baar seized a part of the possessions of the abbey, and when Othmar set out to lay his grievance before Peplin, these rapacious nobles seized him and bribed the monk Lambert to lodge monstrous charges against the Saint.  Bishop Sidonius of Constance, before whom the venerable abbot was tried, passed sentence against him and ordered him to be thrown into prison.  For some time he was confined in the castle of Bodman, where he should have died of starvation, had not a monk secretly supplied him with food; subsequently he was taken to an island in the Rhine, where he died in 759, six month later, at the age of sixty-eight years.  Ten years later his body was found incorrupt and was translated to St. Gall’s.”

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