By Robin Gomes
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Sunday celebrated a Mass in the Cathedral of Strasbourg, north-east France, on the occasion of the 1,300th anniversary of the death of Saint Odile, the patroness of the region of Alsace. On May 26, Pope Francis had appointed the cardinal his personal envoy to the July 4 celebration. The Archdiocese of Strasbourg is marking the Great Jubilee of the 1300th death anniversary of Saint Odile from December 13, 2020, to December 13, 2021
Who is St. Odile?
Saint Odile, the daughter of Duke Adalrich of Alsace, was born blind around 660. The girl, whose first name means "Light of God", was miraculously healed during her baptism at the age of 15. She then became a nun and founded a monastery at Hohenbourg Castle, on a hill which later took her name, Mont Sainte-Odile. The monastery is a well-known place of tourism and pilgrimage in Alsace. St. Odile died in 720, 1300 years ago.
Saint Odile was canonized by Pope Leo IX in the 11th century, and she was proclaimed patron saint of Alsace by Pope Pius XII in 1946, a year after the end of the Second World War which had particularly affected this territory, annexed by Nazi Germany with an extremely violent administration. Since December 13, 2020, the Archdiocese of Strasbourg has been organizing a Grand Jubilee for the 1300 years of the death of Saint Odile.
Europe’s demographic winter
In his homily at Mass in Strasbourg Cathedral, Cardinal Parolin recalled the figure of St. Odile, venerated in various European regions, praising her "shining example".
Strasbourg is the official seat of the European parliament. The cardinal thus drew attention to the “demographic winter” that the continent of Europe is currently going through, which Pope Francis had already denounced as an emergency of our time.
"Europe needs hope if it wants the demographic winter to end, which is not primarily the result of an economic or social crisis, but of the weakening of hope and the authentic meaning of life and existence", the cardinal said. He thus made a heartfelt appeal to Europe to welcome the weakest and the vulnerable. He said that Europe needs to put the marginalized, the poor and the excluded at the centre of its concerns. The continent needs to manage the phenomenon of migration with wisdom and foresight in order to make integration truly effective. Migration as a source of opportunities and fraternity, Cardinal Parolin said, removes the risk of painful separations and misunderstanding, which are signs of a culture that denies that all human beings are brothers and sisters in the spirit of Fratelli tutti.
During Mass, Cardinal Parolin also consecrated Father Gilles Reithinger as bishop. Pope Francis on May 26 appointed the priest, who has been the Superior General of the Foreign Missions of Paris, as Auxiliary Bishop of Strasbourg.
On Monday, the Vatican Secretary of State was scheduled to celebrate mass at the abbey of Mont Sainte-Odile for the young people of the Archdiocese of Strasbourg, on the occasion of the 90 years of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration at the sanctuary.