Today, January 2, we celebrate the feast of Saint Adelard of Corbie (752-827), abbot, patron of gardeners, and honored as patron of those suffering from Typhus. Saint Adelard, despite being born into a powerful family, wished for nothing more than to serve the Lord with pious devotion. Throughout his life, however, he was forced to play other roles, even suffering exile. Saint Adelard is an example of patient service, keeping himself centered firmly in the faith, despite difficult times.
Saint Adelard was born into a powerful and royal family, the grandson of Charles Martel, and son of Bernard, the brother of King Pippin. Wishing to serve the Lord, Adelard became a Benedictine monk at Corbie, in Picardy, France. There, he began his service as a gardener, spending his days in solitude. Despite his attempts to avoid political life, he was frequently called upon by his cousin, Charlemagne, and in attempts to distance himself from court, moved to the monastery at Monte Cassino. However, he was shortly recalled by Charlemagne, and upon his return to Corbie, was elected Abbot of the monastery. Later, Charlemagne appointed him chief minister to Pepin (Charlemagne’s oldest son), who was ruling as King of Italy, in the Carolingian Empire. Adelard served the king well, instructing Pepin, and raising his son, Bernard, in the ways of the faith.
|Northern France, circa 843|
Due to political suspicion, Adelard was banished in 817, when Bernard aspired to take the Imperial Crown. Adelard spent seven years on the island of Niormoutier, off the coast of Aquitaine, during which time his reputation for holiness, austerity, and concern for the sick and poor became legendary. After seven years, Adelard was again recalled to court, and again made chief advisor to the crown.
Upon his return, Adelard and his brother, Wala, founded “New Corbie” Abbey in Saxony, broadening the approach of teaching in their monasteries to the local languages. Whereas previously, all teaching and learning was conducted in Latin, Adelard and Wala attracted a new faithful through use of local vernacular, including German and French. In this way, the faith spread quickly throughout Saxony. Saint Adelard remains the patron saint of many towns and villages in that region, along the Rhine.
Saint Adelard was struck ill, likely by Typhus, and died after several days. His relics were placed in the Abbey, and miraculous cures of the deaf, mute, and paralyzed have been reported through his intercession. Saint Adelard was canonized by Pope John XIX in 1026.
whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:
Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world,
that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Saint Adelard of Corbie,
may serve you with singleness of heart,
and attain to the riches of the age to come;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.