Around the year 300, St. Odilia and 10 other young women, including St. Ursula, set out from England on a pilgrimage to the East. By accident or plan, their ship went up the Rhine, where they were captured by Huns and taken to Cologne, Germany, where they were martyred defending their faith and their chastity.
In 1287, St. Odilia appeared three times to Crosier Br. John Novelan, osc, of Eppa, a member of the Paris monastery. St. Odilia told him God asked her to be the protectress of the Crosier Order and indicated where her relics could be found. According to some accounts, Odilia introduced herself as the daughter of Emperor Maromeus and companion of Ursula and insisted that Br. John travel to Cologne and unearth her remains and those of her sister Ida. On Sept. 1, the Crosier brother and his priest companion, Fr. Louis, found the grave under a pear tree and unearthed the relics. The archbishop of Cologne was present when the relics were removed.
A few days later, the relics were on their way to the motherhouse of the Brethren of the Holy Cross at Huy, Belgium. Along the journey, numerous miracles were reported as people came in contact with the relics. The relics were received in Huy amid great rejoicing. They were then placed in a wooden reliquary in the Crosier monastery there.
In 1952, a major relic of St. Odilia was brought to Onamia, Minnesota, and a shrine in honor of the Patroness of the Order was set up in the priory church, where the reliquary is now housed.
The national novena begins on July 10 and ends on her feast day, July 18.
In the spring of 2015, Pope Francis declared an Extraordinary Year of Mercy to begin Dec. 8, 2015, and end Nov. 20, 2016. Like previous jubilees, it was seen by the Church as a period for remission of sins and universal pardon focusing particularly on God’s forgiveness and mercy. It was an extraordinary Jubilee because it had not been predetermined long before; ordinary jubilees are usually celebrated every 25 years.
In honor of that Holy Year, Diocese of St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler designated places of pilgrimage and shrines within the diocese inviting the faithful to experience grace and reconciliation as they rediscover joy in the mercy of God. The National Shrine of St. Odilia was one of five shrines selected.
Since 1952, when a major relic of St. Odilia was brought to the Crosier community in Onamia and a shrine in her honor was established, the Crosiers have served as guardians of the shrine.
St. Odilia has promised her intercession on behalf of the Crosiers and all those who invoke her aid. For centuries it has been the practice of the Crosiers to bless water in honor of St. Odilia, dipping her relic in it and asking God to give it “power against all diseases and bodily infirmities.” Many have been cured through her intercession.
Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, friends wishing to visit the Shrine are asked to call the priory church beforehand.
There are three stations in the national shrine
Many cures, especially of diseases of the eyes, are obtained through her intercession. Healing Masses are celebrated at different times of the year. The ritual blessing with the relic of St. Odilia is offered at healing Masses or through special arrangement by calling the Crosier priory.