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Saint of the Day: St. Adelaide of Burgundy

Empress who worked on behalf of the poor and suffering

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Empress (ca. 931-999)

Her life

+ Adelaide was the daughter of King Rudolf II of Upper Burgundy (France). At the age of sixteen, she was given in marriage to Lothair, the future king of Italy. The couple would have one daughter.

+ Lothair died in 950, leaving Adelaide—still a teenager—a widow. His successor, Berengarius, ordered her to marry his son, but she refused and was subsequently imprisoned for her defiance. She escaped and was helped by a priest to find shelter in a castle near Reggio, Italy. She asked for the protection of Otto I, king of the Easter Franks.

+ Adelaide and Otto were married in 951 and he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor the following year, with Adelaide serving as empress. Adelaide and Otto had four children together.

+ As Empress (consors regni), Adelaide exercised great power, often working independently of her husband. Her name appears with his in both imperial documents and papal bulls and she was known to act on behalf of those in need, working in both the Church and secular society.

+ Although she was driven from court by her son, Emperor Otto II, and his wife, Theophano, she later served as regent for her grandson, Emperor Otto III. Adelaide used her position to provide the poor, to support the work of missionaries, and to build and restore monasteries and churches.

+ Near the end of her life, Adelaide retired to a Benedictine abbey she had founded in Selz, Alsaçe (France). Although she never took religious vows, she spent the remainder of her life in prayer and contemplation.

+ Saint Adelaide died on December 16, 999, and was canonized in 1097.

For prayer and reflection

All of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing.”—1 Peter 3:8-9

Prayer

O God, the exaltation of the lowly, who willed that blessed Adelaide should excel in the beauty of her charity and patience, grant, through her merits and intercession, that, carrying our cross each day, we may always persevere in love for you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For a Holy Woman)

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For Several Saints)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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