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Saint Adelaide of Burgandy

(Died 16 December 999 A.D.)


Adelaide is an Old German name that means “Of Noble Rank.”


 St. Adelaide was the wife of Emperor. She used her money and power to do good while thinking of herself as a sinner.


The daughter of Rudolf II of Burgundy and Bertha of Swabia, Adelaide was well educated and very religious. At the age of 15, she was married to the son of her father’s rival Lothari II, the nominal King of Italy. The marriage was part of a political settlement designed to bring peace. They had one daughter Emma. Then Lothair was poisoned by his rival Berengarius who attempted to force Adelaide to marry his son. When she refused and fled, he tracked her down and imprisoned her for four months until she was able to escape. From her place of refuge, she wrote to Otto the Great, King of Germany, asking him to save her. He did so and married her in the year 951. They became the parents of four children.



On February 2, 962, the Pope crowned Otto Emperor and Adelaide Emperess of the Holy Roman Empire. When Otto died in 973 their son Otto II became emperor. However, his wife turned the son against the mother and she was driven from court.


As part of her prayer for her son, Adelaide sent one of his splendid mantels to be placed in the grave of St. Martin of Tours as an offering. She wrote these instructions to the one charged with the mission, “When you reach the tomb of the glorious St. Martin, say these words : Bishop of God, receive these humble gifts from Adelaide, servant of the servants of God, sinner by nature and Empress by the grace of God. Receive this mantle of Otto, her eldest son. You, who had the glory to cover Our Lord with your mantle in the person of a poor man, pray for him.”


Adelaide’s prayers were answered because Otto reconciled with her before his death in 983. Adelaide and Otto’s wife ruled as regents for Adelaide’s grandson Otto III. However, the wife once again drove Adelaide from court. When the wife died in 991, Adelaide returned to court to assist her grandson in ruling until he became of age in 995.


Adelaide was then free to devote herself exclusively to many holy works, including the foundation and restoration of religious houses. Although she never became a nun, she retired to a nunnery that she had established at Selz in Alsace (now in France) where she spent the rest of her days in prayer while continuing her work and prayer for the conversion of the Slavik nations to Christianity.


Saint Adelaide, pray for us to serve God humbly as you did.

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