Click on picture to enlarge.

1300 years St Ottilia

On the 1300th anniversary of St Ottilia (born around 660, died 13.12.720), the Museum presents selected representations of the saint at St. Ottilien Archabbey.The collection includes large and small statues from different epochs connected to varying attributes of the saint.

Since St. Ottilia is said to have gained eyesight on her baptism she is mostly pictured with two eyes on top of a book, probably the Bible. The rooster attribute refers to the crowing of a rooster in the morning before the sun (= Christ) rises and so announces Christ as the light.

On display is also the Ottilien booklet written by Fr. Cyrill Wehrmeister OSB (1869 – 1943) which was widely used in the beginning of the 20th century to encourage veneration of St Ottilia and the pilgrimage to St. Ottilien.

An unique display is the cantor’s baton with a statue of St Ottilia from the end of the 19th century. Before the Second Vatican Council the first cantor in many Benedictine abbeys at Pontifical Mass carried a baton as insignia.

The legend of St Ottilia is mainly based on a biography of the 10th century. Duke Eticho’s daughter was born blind which is why her father ordered to have her killed. Her mother Berswinde saved Ottilia by sending her to Palma monastery. On her baptism by bishop Erhard of Regensburg the twelve year old gained eyesight.

Later her brother sent for her to come home but her father was so enraged about this that he killed his son. Ottilia brought her brother back to life but had to flee once again from her father. She escaped the persecution by hiding in a suddenly appearing crevice.

Many years later, the reconciliation between Ottilia and her seriously ill father succeeded. In 690, he gave her a piece of land on the Odilienberg ("Ottilia’s mountain") where she founded a nunnery and became its first abbess. There she cared for her parents until they died.

St Ottilia died at Niedermünster abbey at the foot of the Odilienberg, which she had also founded. The chalice from which she drank shortly before her death was shown to pilgrims as late as 1546.

Her grave is at the Odilienberg, today still one of the most important pilgrimage sites in France. Water of the spring there is estimated for being helpful when suffering from eye diseases.