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St Odilo (961—1049)

St Hugh (1024—1109)


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monk and abbot of Cluny. Born at Avignon, he studied at Lyons and became archdeacon of Macon. Heir to large estates near Riez in Provence, overrun by the Saracens, he was apparently destined for high office in the Church, but Maieul refused to be consecrated to the see of Besançon and became a monk instead. His father had been a notable benefactor of Cluny, where Maieul received the monastic habit and eventually became librarian and bursar. These appointments made him important in both the studies and the administration of estates. Later, when Abbot Aymard became blind, Maieul was appointed coadjutor abbot, and succeeded in 965. A handsome man with fine presence, he inspired respect and affection, emphasizing specially the eminence of charity.

Under his rule Cluny went from strength to strength. Maieul built the church later called Cluny II; he obtained papal privileges for his monastery and reformed others, especially at Ravenna and Pavia. He enjoyed the favour and protection of the Ottonian emperors and was even requested to become pope. This, however, he refused in 974. When he became old, he chose Odilo as his successor and retired to a life of contemplation and penance. He died at the abbey of Souvigny on his way to reform the abbey of S. Denis, near Paris, a task urgently requested by Hugh Capet, king of France. The later achievements of Odilo and Hugh were in part due to his example and ideals. His relics were translated in 1095 by Pope Urban II. Feast; 11 May.

AA.SS. Maii II (1680), 657–700;K. J. Conant, Cluny (1968);H. E. J. Cowdrey, The Cluniacs and the Gregorian Reform (1970);N. Hunt (ed.), Cluniac Monasticism in the central Middle Ages (1971);J. Evans, Monastic Life at Cluny (1968);B.L.S., v. 59–60;Bibl. SS., viii. 564–6.

Subjects: Christianity.

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