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What is known about this founder of the famous Benedictine abbey of St. Gallen comes chiefly from his early ninth-century Vita by Gozbert the younger as revised in the 830s by Walafrid Strabo (BHL 6386, 6386d), from his Miracula by Iso of Sankt Gallen (BHL 6387), written between 864 and 867, from Book 2 of Walafrid Strabo's _Vita sancti Galli_ (BHL 3248), and from Ratpert's also ninth-century _Casus sancti Galli_ (a history of the monastery).  An Alemann from the area of the Bodensee, Otmar is said to have been educated at Chur, where he was ordained priest.  In 719, at the bidding of a Frankish count, he took charge of the decayed monastery on the Steinach believed to have been founded by the Irish missionary St. Gall in the early seventh century.

Otmar changed the monastery's character from eremitic to cenobitic, increased both its population and its holdings, established a hospice and a leprosarium, and, in 747, introduced the Benedictine Rule.  But his success attracted first the attention and then the enmity of the bishop of Konstanz, whose claims upon the abbey Otmar resisted, as well as the hostility of Frankish _missi_ under Pepin the Short, who wished to reaffirm his hold on the area.  In 759 the aged Otmar was falsely accused of adultery; convicted, he was sentenced to internal exile on the island of Werd in the upper Rhine and was there quickly starved to death.  His body was brought back to Sankt Gallen ten years later.

In 864 Otmar was accorded an Elevatio by the then bishop of Konstanz.  His translation to a chapel dedicated to him next to the abbey church followed in 867 and a public cult commenced (first documented in an imperial charter of 883).  Along with Gall, he is a principal patron of the diocese of Sankt Gallen.  His cult is of long standing not only in the territories of the former diocese of Konstanz but also in the dioceses of Augsburg and Regensburg, where Sts. Ulrich and Wolfgang are said to have had to have devotions to him..

The opening page of Walafrid Strabo's Vita of Otmar in its oldest manuscript (late ninth-century; St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 562):
The opening page of Walafrid Strabo's Vita of Otmar in a manuscript of the later eleventh century (1072-1076; St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 560):

Some period-pertinent images of St. Otmar:

a) as depicted in a German-language Life of St. Otmar transmitted in a later fifteenth-century collection of German-language saint's Lives (betw. 1451 and 1460; St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, cod. Sang. 602):
1) Distributing alms before king Pepin's palce:
2) Complaining to king Pepin about the actions of his _missi_:
3) Placed under arrest:
4) On trial before the bishop of Konstanz:
5) Receiving food from a supporter while imprisoned:
6) Entombed on the island of Werd:
7) Translation across the Bodensee:

b) as depicted (at left; at right, a founder portrait) in an early sixteenth-century glass window (1512) in the Filialkirche St. Otmar in Kriestorf, a locality of Aldersdorf (Lkr. Passau) in Bavaria:

c) as portrayed (at center; at left, St. Wolfgang; at right, St. Sebastian) in his early sixteenth-century altar (ca. 1515-1520) in the Filialkirche St. Otmar in Kriestorf, a locality of Aldersdorf (Lkr. Passau) in Bavaria:  

d) as depicted twice (at left, standing; at right, translation from Werd) in an initial "I" in an early sixteenth-century lectionary for the Use of the abbey of St Gallen (ca. 1517;  St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, cod. Sang. 540, fol. 93v):

John Dillon

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