Odo of Cluny  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Saint Odo of Cluny (French: Odon) (c. 878 – 18 November 942) was the second abbot of Cluny. He enacted various reforms in the Cluniac system of France and Italy.

He was the son of a feudal lord of Deols, near Le Mans, and received his early education at the court of William the Pious, duke of Aquitaine. After entering as a cleric to the monastery of St.Martin of Tours, he studied at Paris under Remigius of Auxerre. About 909, he became a monk, priest, and then superior of the abbey school in Baume, whose abbot, Berno, was the founder and first abbot of Cluny Abbey in 910. Odo followed him to Cluny, bringing his library; there he became abbot on Berno's death in 927.

Authorized by a privilege of Pope John XI in 931, Odo reformed the monasteries in Aquitaine, northern France, and Italy. The papal privilege empowered him to unite several abbeys under his supervision and to receive at Cluny monks from Benedictine abbeys not yet reformed; the greater number of the reformed monasteries, however, remained independent, and several became centres of reform. Odo became the great reforming abbot of Cluny, which became the model of monasticism for over a century and transformed the role of piety in European daily life (see Clunian Reforms).

Between 936 and 942 he visited Italy several times, founding in Rome the monastery of Our Lady on the Aventine and reforming several convents, e.g., Subiaco and Monte Cassino. He was sometimes entrusted with important political missions, e.g., when peace was arranged between Hugh of Arles and Alberic I of Spoleto.

Among his writings are: a comment on the Moralia of St.Gregory, a biography of Saint Gerald of Aurillac, three books of Collationes (moral essays, severe and forceful). a few sermons, an epic poem on the Redemption (Occupatio) in several books (ed. Swoboda, 1900), and twelve choral antiphons in honour of Saint Martin of Tours. Some scholars have attributed the Musica Enchiriadis to him.

There is only one contemporary biography of him, the Vita Odonis written by John of Salerno.

His feast day is 18 November.

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