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Our “miracle of St. Odile” came after a visit to her tomb

© Ralph Hammann-cc/Wikimedia Commons

Jennifer Fitz - published on 11/19/17

Whether a miracle or a coincidence, I'm profoundly grateful, and so is the cat.

During a visit to France this past summer, I had planned to visit Mont Sainte Odile while we were staying out in Alsace. The abbey, where Perpetual Adoration has been in practice since 1931, is not far from the KL-Natzweiler concentration camp, so the plan was to visit one site in the morning and one site in the afternoon. That plan, like many of our epic plans, was thwarted by our persistent difficulty in getting out the door early each day, so we left Alsace for the first time having neglected her patron saint.

After a week in Chamonix and a few days around Paris, we returned to Alsace to stay in downtown Strasbourg. For the last full day of the trip, the kids voted that we take one more adventure in the countryside and go see that monastery after all.

Here’s the tomb of Ste. Odile, where I asked for her intercession on a variety of concerns, not least of which that I would like very much to return again to Alsace, thanks.

Jennifer Fitz
Tomb of Ste Odile/Jennifer Fitz

In the monastery gift shop you can purchase all the usual Catholic merchandise, including pun-laden cologne:

Jennifer Fitz

The word “eau” means “water” and is pronounced like the letter O.  Eau d’Il means “water of He,” with the obvious spiritual connotation, and is pronounced the same way as the name Odile. (Grammatically it’s as awkward as the Son-sun puns.) This pun on the word for water, though, is wildly entertaining to those of us who can’t resist a pun, because Ste. Odile is famous for her miraculous spring:

Jennifer Fitz
The sign reads: At this place, Odile struck the rock, and the water that gushed forth cured the blind man. Pilgrims, halt your steps and rest there, to pray to God that he will enlighten your souls as well at this miraculous spring.

You can purchase the miraculous (but unblessed) water up top at the monastery where it’s offered for a suggested donation in little plastic bottles, or you can bring your own container and hike down to the spring and collect water yourself for free.

I made the hike and drank down my water bottle so I could refill it with water from the spring, because who can resist? The kids filled their bottles as well. We were totally armed for … whatever it is Catholics do with unblessed water from miraculous springs.

Back home in America, we unpacked our plastic water bottles containing unblessed water from the miraculous spring. I have a decorative bottle my grandmother gave me that was sitting empty, so I filled that bottle and corked it and set it out on the mantel. Catholic memento achieved!

There was, however, more water than would fit in the bottle.  What to do with it?

I put it in the pets’ water bowl out in the yard.

Now for the big miracle.

Martin the Cat came to us as a stray, and when he arrived he had runny, gunky eyes. The vet’s best efforts over the years have done nothing to change that, and we have made peace with the fact that, while in no obvious pain, the kitty simply had an untreatable eye problem and there was nothing more to be done.

Here’s the miracle: About a week after I put out the St. Odile water for the pets, I noticed Martin the Cat’s eyes were completely cleared up. All these months later, there is no gunk; his eyes remain unrunny.

Natural vs. supernatural

Is it possible that, after all these years, Martin’s eyes just happened to have spontaneously cleared up that particular week, and St. Odile had nothing to do with it? Sure. It’s not like I poured water over his eyes and watched an instantaneous transformation.

© Ralph Hammann-cc/ Wikimedia Commons (Detail)

Still, the fact remains that Martin the Cat’s longstanding eye problem hadn’t responded to any conventional treatment, and after drinking water from a spring whose water had cured a blind man — a spring under the patronage of a saint whose symbol is a book with two eyes on it — his eyes were cured.

That’s all I know.

If a week after enduring one of his many rounds of eye drops my cat’s eyes had healed, I’d assume that the vet’s treatment that had done the job. Therefore, I give St. Odile the same benefit of the doubt I’d give the veterinarian, but I am somehow even more grateful. St. Odile, pray for us!

Video: The monastery bells ringing to announce the start of mid-afternoon prayer. All through Alsace and beyond, church bells like this would ring for five minutes or so, straight, to summon the faithful to Mass.

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