St. Odilia, Our Patroness

    The Crosier Fathers and Brothers served the St. Odilia Community from 1960 to 2007.  Their presence greatly influenced the shaping of our parish community!  Since St. Odilia is the patroness of the Crosiers, our parish is honored to name her as our patroness as well.

    St. Odilia is said to have been the daughter of a powerful ruler of Britain. In the year 300, she and ten other virgins, companions of   St. Ursula, set out on a pilgrimage to the east. They were either going to Rome, or looking for a place to settle and quietly practice their faith. Their ship sailed up the Rhine River; they were captured by soldiers (Huns) and murdered at Cologne, Germany in 304.

    The Crosiers—the word means cross bearers—were founded in the year 1210 in Liege, Belgium, by Blessed Theodore De Celles. In 1287 Odilia appeared to Brother John of Eppa at the monastery in Paris. She explained that God had commanded her to be the protectress of the order. She told him where her bones (relics) were to be found, and stated that they should be taken to the motherhouse at Huy, Belgium. On a stop at a Cistercian convent, a sister who suffered from an eye disease touched the relics and was cured. Since then, St. Odilia has been the patron saint of those with bodily afflictions and, more specifically, with eye problems.

    The Order suffered much during the Protestant Revolt and French Revolution. The Motherhouse was destroyed in 1797, but a Crosier priest escaped with the relics of St. Odilia. They were later discovered in a parish church in Kerniel, Belgium. Finally, in 1949, the relics were returned to the Crosiers and were taken in solemn procession to the Crosier monastery at Diest, Belgium.

    In 1850, the Crosiers came to the Green Bay, Wisconsin area, but stayed only about 26 years. In 1910, several members of the order settled in the Onamia area, traveling from Holland with Dutch immigrants. By 1922, the Crosiers had built both a church and a monastery. In 1952 a large portion of an arm bone was brought to Onamia and a shrine was established to honor the Patroness of the Blind and Afflicted and the Patroness of the Crosier Order. Many cures have been obtained through St. Odilia’s intercession. It is worth a trip to Onamia to see this beautiful shrine, the stained glass windows in the chapel, and the historic buildings.

    In 2010, the Crosiers celebrated their Jubilee Year, 800 years since the founding of the Crosier Order in 1210 and 100 years since its permanent establishment in the United States in 1910. Today, over 400 Crosiers live and serve the Church in eleven countries on five continents, including 75 of them in the United States. The Crosiers commit to a life of community, prayer and ministry; they share one spirituality, that of the cross. St. Augustine taught that we come to know and experience God in our relationships with others, especially in community. The full canonical title is the Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross of St. Augustine.

    The Crosiers and our St. Odilia parish community celebrates the Feast on the weekend closest to July 18, the date her relics arrived at the central priory in Huy. Much more information is on the Crosier website, www.crosier.org.