Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Adelaide, Abbess of Villich


Adelaide, Abbess of Villich (Adelheid of Villich) (c. 970–February 5 O.S., 1015) was a daughter of Megingoz des Brunharingen, Count of Guelders , and Gerberga of Metzgau, a granddaughter of Charles the Simple, king of the West Franks.
When still very young she entered the convent of St Ursula, Our Lady of the Capitol, founded by her parents in Cologne, where the Rule of St Jerome was followed. About 980, her parents founded the convent of Villich, supported by a manor at the confluence of the Rhine and the Sieg, opposite the city of Bonn, on the site of a Frankish cemetery and what appears to have been a proprietary church, modern archeology has revealed. Adelaide was "redeemed" from the convent by exchange with a parcel of land  and became abbess of this new convent, initially established as an unusually late example of a community of canonesses. Canons were attached to the convent in order that Mass might be said. After the death of Gerberga, Adelaide introduced the stricter Benedictine rule. She insisted that the nuns under her care learn to read Latin, that they might understand the Mass.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia "the fame of her sanctity and of her gift of working miracles soon attracted the attention of Saint Heribert, Archbishop of Cologne", who could scarcely have ignored an abbess of her high Carolingian and Ottonian connections. He appointed her abbess of the convent of St. Maria im Kapitol, Cologne, to succeed her sister Bertha, who died about 1000. Emperor Otto III reaffirmed Vilich's immunities from ecclesiastical interference and the right to appoint its own abbess, a title that remained only briefly in the founding family. She died at her convent in Cologne in the year 1015, but was buried at Vilich, where her feast was solemnly celebrated on February 5 and rapidly attracted pilgrims.
A hagiography, Vita Adelheidis, provides some information regarding her family

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