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St. Othmar

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Died 16 Nov., 759, on the island of Werd in the Rhine, near Echnez, Switzerland. He was of Alemannic descent, received his education in Rhaetia, was ordained priest, and for a time presided over a church of St. Florinus in Rhaetia. This church was probably identical with the one of St. Peter at Remus, where St. Florinus had laboured as a priest and was buried. In 720 Waltram of Thurgau appointed Othmar superior over the cell of St. Gall. He united into a monastery the monks that lived about the cell of St. Gall, according to the rule of St. Columban, and became their first abbot. He added a hospital and a school ; during his abbacy the Rule of St. Columban was replaced by that of St. Benedict. When Karlmann renounced his throne in 747, he visited Othmar at St. Gall and gave him a letter to his brother Pepin, recommending Othmar and his monastery to the king's liberality. Othmar personally brought the letter to Pepin, and was kindly received. When the Counts Warin and Ruodhart unjustly tried to gain possession of some property belonging to St. Gall, Othmar fearlessly resisted their demands. Hereupon they captured him while he was on a journey to Constance, and held him prisoner, first at the castle of Bodmann, then on the island of Werd in the Rhine. At the latter place he died, after an imprisonment of six months, and was buried. In 769 his body was transferred to the monastery of St. Gall and in 867 he was solemnly entombed in the new church of St. Othmar at St. Gall. His cult began to spread soon after his death, and now he is, next to St. Maurice and St. Gall, the most popular saint in Switzerland. His feast is celebrated on 16 November. He is represented in art as a Benedictine abbot, generally holding a little barrel in his hand, an allusion to the alleged miracle, that a barrel of St. Othmar never became empty, no matter how much he took from it to give to the poor.

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