Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume IX: September. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Ida, Widow
THE FATHER of this saint was a count, who lived in great favour with Charlemagne, emperor and king of France, in whose court she had her education. From her childhood she learned to contemn the world in the midst of its splendour, to esteem virtue and the divine grace as the only good, and to propose to herself no other object in all her actions and desires than to walk always with God, and to study, with her whole strength, to discover and to accomplish his holy will. Whilst many others wearied themselves and exhausted their vigour and strength in the empty pursuit of vanity and ambition, and sought satisfaction and pleasure in the region of misery and death, Ida trembled for herself lest she should ever suffer herself to be imposed upon by such false appearances. As it is upon the affections and maxims of the soul, and the opinions which she conceives of things, that all depends, it was the saints first care, by assiduous prayer, pious meditation, and reading, to cultivate and daily improve those which religion and piety inspire; and herein she was exceedingly strengthened by the example and conversation of the holy virgins Odilia and Gertrude, the daughters of Pepin. The emperor gave her in marriage to a favourite lord of his court, named Egbert, and bestowed on her a great fortune in estates, not only on account of her merit, but also to recompense her fathers services. The happy couple lived in the most perfect and holy union of hearts, and constantly excited each other to greater fervour in the practice of all good works.
The death of her husband left her a widow whilst she was yet very young; and this state she sanctified by redoubling her devotions, self-denials, and austerities. She considered the arduous task which every Christian has upon his hands, and of purifying his heart from all that is sensual and inordinate, and to put on affections which are perfectly pure and holy, by which a soul is fitted and adorned that she may deserve to be associated at death with the spotless angels, and that she may bear the image of God, the infinite source and model of meekness, patience, and all other virtues. She esteemed it the true fruit of living, to make life one uninterrupted series of good actions, closely linked to one another; and to this end she devoted her whole time, and all her thoughts and actions, those which she employed in her temporal affairs, and in the care of her family, being equally directed to the same, and furnishing her each with fresh occasions of patience, meekness, beneficence, self-denial, charity, penance, or other heroic virtues. The great revenues of her estate she chiefly employed in relieving the poor, and felt no greater pleasure than in clothing and feeding Jesus Christ in his members. She surpassed in the world the penitential practices of cloisters. That she might prolong her prayers, and wait on God in the presence of his altars with greater recollection, and unobserved by men, she built herself a little retired chapel within a church which she had founded near her own seat in the diocess of Munster. Her exercises of piety, and the heavenly favours she often received in prayer, were generally known only to God; so carefully did she conceal them as much as possible from the eyes of men. The close of her penitential life was a long and painful sickness, in which, far from ever letting fall the least word of complaint, she never mentioned her sufferings. Having shone as a bright light to the infant church of Germany, she passed to eternal rest before the middle of the ninth century. See her life written by Uffing, a monk of the tenth age; and the remarks of F. Suysken, the Bollandist, t. 2, Sept. p. 255.