Saint of the day 16th December 2022, we celebrate Saint Adelaide

16 December – Saint Adelaide – Widow ( – 999)

As agreed in 933 between King Rudolf II of Upper Burgundy and Hugh of Provence in their struggle for the crown of Lombardy, Rudolf’s daughter, Adelaide, married Hugh’s son, Lothair in 947 and, in time, gave birth to a daughter named Emma.On his death in 950 Lothair was succeeded by Berengarius of Ivrea as nominal king of Italy. Adelaide’s refusal to marry his son led to a brutal form of imprisonment for her on Lake Garda.

The German king, Otto I who was leading an army into Italy, defeated Berengarius and released Adelaide, who then joined him. He consolidated his position in Italy by marrying Adelaide, twenty years his junior, in Pavia at Christmas 951. They had five children. In 962 Otto was crowned emperor at Rome, where he reigned till his death in 973.His successor, Otto II, estranged himself from his mother under the influence of his wife, the Byzantine princess, Theophano, and others.

Adelaide, true to her Teutonic name which meant “noble”, maintained an admirable dignity about her and, displaying humility, left court and appealed to Saint Majolus, Abbot of Cluny, who succeeded in bringing about reconciliation between mother and son at Pavia, where Otto sought pardon on his knees for his unkindness.When her grandson, Otto III, became Roman Emperor in 996, Adelaide retired from court life and devoted herself to founding and restoring monasteries, convents and churches. A woman of deep Christian virtue, ever sensitive to the needs of others, she was eager for the conversion of the Slavs, whose movements on the eastern frontier troubled her closing years before she finally returned to Burgundy where she died in 999.

Reflection: “Let us detach ourselves in spirit from all that we see and cling to that which we believe. This is the cross which we must imprint on all our daily actions and behaviour” (Saint Peter Damian).