December 15, 2017

Saint Adelaide, Patron of Brides

Saint Adelaide

Feast Day - December 16th 

Perhaps the most prominent European woman of the 10th century through her marriage to the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto the Great of Germany, St. Adelaide was a remarkable figure. The daughter of King Rudolph II of Burgundy, she was born in 931, in Burgundy, France. Adelaide was promised in marriage when she was only two to Lothaire, the son of the ruler of Provence, to end a political feud.

When her husband was murdered by a rival prince, his successor tried to make Adelaide his wife. She refused and was held in captivity until freed by the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I. On Christmas Day 951, she would marry Otto at Pavia. The marriage consolidated his authority in northern Italy, and in 962 they were solemnly crowned emperor and empress of the realm by Pope John XII in Rome.

Adelaide ruled with her husband until his death. Otto died in 973, and for twenty years Adelaide’s life was a turmoil of family and political troubles. Her daughter-in-law, the Byzantine princess Theophano turned her son Otto II against her and had her banished from the court twice. Yet she remained steadfast and faithful, known for her liberality in giving and her piety. Eventually Adelaide was formally restored to the court and installed as the acting regent for her grandson Otto III.

As the Regent of the Empire, Adelaide used her power as a defacto empress to increase evangelization efforts, especially in northern Europe, built numerous monasteries and churches, and also gave much aid the poor. She was active in the reforms of the great abbey at Cluny, where she would repose. Despite her exalted status, she was a wife and mother, and lived both hard times and good, always faithful to her Lord, and always ready to give generously to those in need.

She died in 999 at the monastery of Seltz, Alsace, and was canonized in 1097 by Pope Urban II. She is the patron saint of brides. May the splendor of your glory dawn always in our hearts, we pray, almighty God, and through Saint Adelaide's example may we in our service the poor, be shown to be children of light by the advent of your Only Begotten Son. Who lives and reigns with and in unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen. St. Adelaide, model of charity, pray for us.

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