Otmar of St. Gallen

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Otmar von St. Gallen (also Othmar , Audomar , * around 689, probably in the vicinity of St. Gallen ; † November 16, 759 on the island of Werd in Eschenz near Stein am Rhein ) was an important abbot of the St. Gallen monastery , which he reorganized from 719 onwards. Since he was canonized by the Bishop of Constance Solomon I in 864, he has been venerated as saint Otmar; Remembrance day is November 16.


Martyrdom of St. Otmar (1760), Mödling parish church (Lower Austria)

Otmar was of Alemannic origin. He completed his priestly training in Chur and probably initially looked after a Florin church there . His excellent reputation was the reason for Waltram von Thurgau to entrust Otmar with the supervision of the monastic community founded by St. Gallus in 612 , from which the St. Gallen Monastery developed. Gallus' grave had been raided and robbed repeatedly and threatened with decay. Otmar fundamentally reorganized the religious settlement, secured its existence and put the monastic way of life on a new basis. He was not the founder of the St. Gallen Abbey, because the establishment of Gallus around 612 had already been a community of monks that radiated at least regionally, but he revitalized the life of this community of monks and placed it on a secure footing.

After the blood court in Cannstatt by the Franconian caretaker Karlmann in 746, the remnants of Alemannic independence came under increasing pressure from Franconian- Carolingian interests and were pushed back more and more. The convent of St. Gallen and Abbot Otmar, as belonging to the Alemannic area, also got into the dispute. In 747, at Karlmann and Pippin's pressure, Otmar in St. Gallen introduced the Regula Benedicti (Benedictine rule), which corresponded to the implementation of the Carolingian strategy of standardizing the imperial church at the monastic level. Since Otmar submitted to this, the monastery was rewarded with land donations in return.

Despite the tensions between the Carolingians and Alemanni, the monastery flourished under Otmar. Inwardly, he was very interested in the spiritual life of the monks, outwardly he devoted himself above all to caring for the sick and the poor. Otmar organized this, the appropriate infrastructure: So he let a poor hostel building and a hospice for the terminally ill and lepers , the medical historical significance as the oldest institution of its kind in Switzerland has. Otmar also dedicated himself to the practical implementation: Direct human contact with the poor was just as important to him as he was personally caring for the sick.

These charitable works by Otmar and the monastery probably resulted in a considerable (Alamannic) loyalty to the people. This, together with the independence of the monastery, aroused increasing displeasure among the Frankish Counts Warin and Ruthard , who were appointed in the course of the Franconian-Alamannic dispute , which manifested itself in land disputes between the counts and the monastery. In addition, there were tensions due to the claims to power of the bishop , Sidonius von Konstanz , who wanted to subordinate St. Gallen as an own monastery to his diocese. These conflicts eventually led to the capture of Otmar in 759. He was tried on the usual false charges (moral crimes, adultery) and sentenced to death by starvation in the royal palace in Bodman . The sentence was lessened and Otmar was then held in custody on the island of Werd. Otmar died there that same year, on November 16, 759.


Saint Otmar (with abbot's staff and wine barrel) on the guild flag of Mödling's winemakers (1755)

Otmar was canonized around 100 years after his death. In the diocese of St. Gallen , Otmar is considered an equal Patronus aeque principalis .

In the history of theology, Otmar can be seen as a forerunner of the religious movements of the 12th and 13th centuries, which combined the preaching of the Gospel , living in poverty, helping the poor and general concern for the common people. It is no coincidence that the Franciscans (OFM) now look after the Otmar shrine with a small chapel in the originally Benedictine monastery of Werd on the island of the same name .

In artistic representations Otmar is shown as a Benedictine abbot with a staff and a wine barrel. The little wine keg has its background in the legend about the transfer of his corpse ten years after his death, when a storm would not have harmed the boat and the pilgrim's bottle of wine did not empty. According to another legend, Otmar's keg was never empty no matter how much he shared with the poor or drank from it himself.

Name bearer

Famous namesake can be found under Otmar . Churches with the patronage of St. Ot (h) mar are listed in Othmarkirche .

The sports club TSV St. Otmar St. Gallen is named after him, as is the Austrian soccer club SC Othmar III from Vienna.

The name Ott comes from the Swiss saint Othmar, who died in 759. In the 13th and 14th centuries, Othmar first became Oth and later Ott.

The places Ottmarsheim , district of Besigheim , Ottmarsfeld , district of Höttingen and the French Ottmarsheim should be traced back to his name.


Web links

Commons : Otmar von St. Gallen  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Ottmar Fuchs:  Otmar. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 6, Bautz, Herzberg 1993, ISBN 3-88309-044-1 , Sp. 1336-1339.
  2. Iso reports on this in his Relatio de miraculis s. Otmari (around 870).
  3. to Catholic Encyclopedia online , see under literature
predecessor Office successor
- Abbot of St. Gallen