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.
There are three stations in the national shrine