Pontiff Profiles Saint of Joy Hidden in Austerity

Says Odo Was Reformer, Man of Goodness

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 2, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI returned to his catechesis on great figures from Church history today, taking up a monastic reformer from Cluny.

The Pope focused the general audience in Paul VI Hall on St. Odo, the second abbot of Cluny, whom he characterized not only as a great reformer, but also as a man filled with goodness.

The Holy Father recounted how St. Odo was particularly devoted to the image of Mary as the mother of mercy, calling her the «only hope of the world … thanks to whom the doors of paradise have been opened to us.»

He also focused on the long list of virtues for which Odo became known, including «contempt for the world, zeal for souls [and] commitment to peace for the Churches.»

«United in only one monk, comments his biographer, were the different virtues existing in a scattered way in other monasteries,» the Pontiff observed.

«[His] vision of the world might seem quite far from ours» Benedict XVI admitted, «and yet, Odo’s is a conception that, seeing the fragility of the world, values interior life open to the other, the love of neighbor, and precisely thus he transforms life and opens the world to the light of God.»

The Pope also paused to reflect on Odo’s particular devotion to the Eucharist.

«The presence of the Creator among us, who gives himself in our hands and transforms us as he transforms the bread and wine, thus transforms the world,» he said.


The Bishop of Rome gave particular attention to the joy that characterized the saint’s life.

He said: «A characteristic of the holy abbot appears here that at first glance is almost hidden under the rigor of his austerity as reformer: the profound goodness of his soul.

«He was austere, but above all he was good, a man of great goodness, a goodness that comes from contact with divine goodness. Odo, his contemporaries say, spread all around the joy with which he was filled.»

Benedict XVI noted how the saint’s biographer recalls how Odo would «invite children whom he met on the road to sing and then give them a small gift, and [the biographer] adds: ‘His words were full of exultation … his mirth infused in our heart a profound joy.'»

The Pope concluded expressing his prayer that Odo’s «goodness, [and] joy that comes from faith, united to austerity and opposition to the vices of the world, also touch our heart, so that we too will be able to find the source of joy that springs from the goodness of God.»

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