Feast of Bl. Oda of Bonne Rivreuille, O. Praem.
(c. 1134, † April 18, 1158)
- Crown = Nobility
- Pectoral cross = Prioress
- Nose and dagger = Disfigurement
- Lilies = Virginity
- Book = Biography
Oda was born around 1134 in France of both noble and Christian stock. Oda wanted to contribute to the honor of her royal house and aspired to a life of holiness. From her childhood she was a very pious girl and had a special love for purity, believing that the life of the cloister would be her best protection. At the beginning of her adolescence she made a secret vow of chastity, but being too young to enter the convent she remained with her parents, devoting many hours to prayer.
Oda’s parents, however, wanted her to marry. On the day of her arranged wedding, she refused to respond to the usual questions. After being prodded to say something, Oda said, “Since you want me to say that it pleases me to take this young man as my husband, you must know that I will never marry him or any other. I have bound myself from my childhood to a Spouse to whom I have vowed my virginity. Neither love, nor riches, nor threats, nor even blows can separate me from His embrace.” Still, her parents continued to pressure their daughter to marry.
In order not to prolong the conflict, Oda disfigured her face by cutting off her nose. Hearing of her plight, Abbot Odon from the Premonstratensian convent at Rivreuille sent two confreres to the castle to console the brave child. Oda again asked her father’s permission to enter the cloister, declaring that if he did not accede to her wishes, she would continue to disfigure herself. Overcome, her father gave his permission. Abbot Odon clothed her with the white habit himself.
Oda began her religious life with profound humility, a burning desire for sanctification, complete detachment, and obedience. Eventually Oda was elected prioress. She had a heart full of compassion for the poor, the sick, and the needy, and did everything she could to lighten their burdens.
While still relatively young, Oda grew feeble and ill. She died on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1158, surrounded by her sisters. In his sermon at her funeral, Abbot Philip of Harvengt of Bonne-Espérance said, “She has borne her name with truth. She was indeed a very special ‘ode’ to the honor of God.”
Date(s) - Monday April 20, 2020