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Odo of Canterbury (10th century)

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Our father among the saints Odo of Canterbury, also Oda the Good and Oda the Severe, was the Archbishop of Canterbury from about 941 until his repose in 959. He was noted for his fairness and deep concern for the welfare of the people. He took part in the formulation of legislation of Kings Edmund and Edgar the Peaceful and blessed the monastic reforms of St. Dunstan at Glastonbury, that promoted the revival of monasticism in England. His feast day is June 2.


The date of his birth is believed to be about 870. He was born to Danish parents in East Anglia. His father, who may have been a pagan, did not encourage Odo in his quest for Christianity. Athelhelm, a nobleman, adopted Odo and educated him for service to God. According to tradition, after he was ordained Odo accompanied Athelhelm on a journey to Rome. On the way, Athelhelm became ill and was cured by Odo after he drank of a cup of wine that Odo had blessed. The history of his consecration and service as a bishop is complicated by varying sources. In conflicting reports, he is variously noted to have been consecrated Bishop of Wilton in 920, by a Archbishop Wulfhelm who could not have done it before 923, and as Bishop of Ramsbury in 927. He is also stated to have been Bishop of Sherborne a tenure that could not have begun before 925.

During the reign of King Athelstan, Odo was highly esteemed in his court. In 937, he was present at the battle of Brunanburh during which Odo restored to Athelstan his lost sword at a critical time, leading to Athelstan's victory over a force of Scots, Danes, and Northumbrians.

After the death of Abp. Wulfhelm on February 12, 941, King Edmund named Odo as Wulfhelm's successor as Archbishop of Canterbury, although initially Odo refused, noting that he was not a monk as were the previous archbishops. Before his enthronement, Odo became a monk, having joined a Benedictine monastery at Fleury-sur-Loire.

While archbishop of Canterbury, Odo helped King Edmund with his legislation and developed rules covering various aspects of church life: the privileges of the church; the respective duties of the secular princes, bishops, priests, clerics, monks; prohibition on illegal marriages; preserving peace; fasting and almsgiving; and tithing. He consecrated St. Dunstan bishop of Worcester and hailed him as a future archbishop of Canterbury.

Abp. Odo died on June 2, 959 and, after short tenures as archbishop of Canterbury by Ælfsige and Byrhthelm, was succeeded by St. Dunstan.

Preceded by:
Bishop of Ramsbury
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Bishop of Canterbury
Succeeded by:


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