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June 12

St Odulf of Utrecht - June 12

Saint Odulph of Utrecht
Monk, Missionary
(Unknown – Around 855)

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Saint Odulph of Utrecht

His Early Years

Odulph (also known as Odulf, Odulfo, and Odulphus) was born in Oorschot, Brabant, modern-day Belgium on an unknown date. He belonged to a noble French family and lived a pious and studious youth where he was known for his intelligence. At a young age, Odulph entered the Augustinian order, dedicating himself to a life of prayer and service to God.

Priest and Missionary

After his ordination as an Augustinian priest, Odulph was appointed as the curate of Oresscoth in Brabant. It was during this time that he became acquainted with Saint Frederick of Utrecht. A few years later, his eloquence as a preacher as well as his learning induced Saint Frederick of Utrecht to send Odulph to evangelize the partially converted Frisians, a Germanic people residing in the coastal areas of the Netherlands and Germany.

So, Odulph embarked on a missionary journey, recognizing the need for spiritual guidance and the spreading of the Christian faith among the Frisians. He preached the Gospel, converted many to Christianity, and established strong foundations for the Church in the region. In this role, he focused on setting a good example of prayer and fasting for the laypeople, instilling in them the importance of a devout and disciplined spiritual life. He established a church among Frisians and founded a monastery of Augustinian canons at Stavoren, which became his center of operations for many years. His commitment to the faith was demonstrated by his exemplary spiritual life.

His Death

Odulph retired to Utrecht, Netherlands, where he was subsequently appointed as a canon of the cathedral there. This religious community became a center for prayer, study, and the preservation of the monastic tradition. Through his efforts, the monastery flourished and became a significant spiritual haven in the region. Odulph was known for his humility, simplicity, and deep devotion to Christ. He led a life of self-denial and embraced the monastic virtues of poverty, chastity, and obedience. His commitment to assiduous prayer, his fasting, his almsgiving deeds, his penance, his zeal in instructing the people, and exhorting all men to the divine love and the contempt of all earthly things, seemed to grow stronger as Odulph got older. All these combination actions made Odulph a spiritual role model for many.

Being seized with a fever, with joy, Odulph foretold his last moment commending himself to their prayers. He promised, by the divine mercy, never to forget them before God, and happily departed this life on the 12th of June, around 855 in Utrecht, Netherlands of natural causes. In Utrecht, his body was enshrined and his cultus grew after his death. Many churches are dedicated to him in both the Netherlands and Belgium. In art, Saint Odulf is an Augustinian canon with a bowl for baptizing in his hand.

His relics are said to have been stolen in 1034 by Viking pirates and taken to London. Bishop Aelfward of London bought them for 100 marks and gave them to Evesham Abbey, which he still governed. A later Norman abbot, Walter, tried to move them to Winchcombe, but the shrine became so heavy as they continued toward their destination that they had to turn back. In their return, the closer they got to Evesham, the relics became light as a feather. Another time, Queen Edith tried to take some of Odulph’s relics for her private collection and was blinded.

Born :                    Unknown date in Oorschot, Brabant (modern-day Belgium)

Died:                     June 12, around 855 in Utrecht, Netherlands

Beatified:             Pre-Congregation

Canonized:          Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:           June 12, July 18 (on some calendars)

Patron Saint:      Borgloon, Belgium; Evesham, England; Stavoren, Netherlands; Utrecht, Netherlands

Source:

Reflection 

Saint Odulph of Utrecht’s life is a testament to the profound impact that a single dedicated individual can have through faith, service, and practical action. After becoming a Augustinian priest, he went on to embarked on a missionary journey preaching the Gospel and converting many to Christianity. He “walked what he talked” through his exemplary life of prayer, penance, almsgiving and instructing while founding a church and monastery for his new converts.

How can you embark on a missionary journey today converting others by your community service and prayer for the needs of others?

Prayers

Saint Odulph of Utrecht,

You, who were a faithful servant of Christ through your tireless missionary work and acts of charity, devoting your life to spreading the Gospel and bringing the light of Christ to those in darkness. 

We humbly ask for your intercession that we may follow your example of faith and service.

Grant us the courage to proclaim the Good News and the wisdom to nurture the seeds of faith in our communities.

Pray for us, that we may be strengthened in our resolve to serve God and our neighbors with love and compassion.

May we, like you, be instruments of peace and goodwill, bringing hope and joy to all we encounter.

Saint Odulph of Utrecht, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Butler’s Lives Of The Saints Complete Edition – St. Odulf (c. a.d. 855)

Catholic Online – St. Odulf

CatholicSaints.Info – Book of Saints – Odulph – by Monks of Ramsgate

Odolphie – Background Information to St Odulph and St Boniface

Oxford Reference – Odulf

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