Gerardus Odonis

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Gerardus Odonis,[1] (born probably at Châteauroux, in the present department of Indre, France, 1285; died at Catania, Sicily in 1349) was a French theologian and Minister General of the Franciscan Order.[2]


Whether he was the son of Count André de Chauvigny is very doubtful. After he had entered the Order of St. Francis, most probably at Châteauroux, and consequently had belonged to the Touraine province of the order, he became a member of the Aquitanian province and still belonged to this latter (without, however, being provincial minister) when he was elected minister general of the order, 10 June 1329, at the general chapter. The presiding officer of this chapter was Cardinal de la Tour, a Franciscan, whom Pope John XXII had appointed vicar-general of the order. The previous minister general, Michael of Cesena, had been deposed by John XXII on 6 June 1328.

Gerardus Odonis was inclined to give up poverty, the principle of the order, on account of which Michael of Cesena had come into conflict with the pope. The general chapter held at Paris (1329) took a position, in the name of the entire order, on the side of the pope and formally expelled the small party made up of Michael of Cesena's adherents.

Gerardus Odonis openly showed his readiness to abandon the rule of poverty at the general chapter of Perpignan (1331), where he won over to his side fourteen provincial ministers. In reference to this question they presented a petition to John XXII which the pope rejected in the consistory of 1 August 1331. Owing to his views concerning poverty Gerardus also became entangled in a dispute with King Robert and Queen Sanzia of Naples and Sicily. These rulers were protectors of the rigid adherents to the rule of poverty as well as of the followers of Michael of Cesena and of the Fraticelli. Notwithstanding the papal letters of admonition and the fact that John XXII sent Gerardus Odonis as his representative to the Court of Naples in 1331 and the following year, Gerardus had new statutes drawn up with the view of changing the form of the Franciscan Order to that of the old orders of monks. These regulations were confirmed, 28 November 1336, by Pope Benedict XII(1334–42); consequently Gerardus was able at the chapter held at Cahors, 7 June 1337, to obtain, in spite of strong opposition, the enactment of the so-called "Constitutiones Benedictinae". Nevertheless, he was in danger of being removed from his position, nor did the statutes remain in force longer that the lifetime of Benedict XII and the period during which Gerardus was general. The general chapter of Assisi abrogated, 1 June 1343, the "Constitutiones Benedictinae" and re-enacted, with some additions, the constitutions of Narbonne (1260).

Gerardus Odonis both resembled and imitated Elias of Cortona, the minister general second in succession from St. Francis of Assisi. In union with the pope, he zealously promoted Franciscan missions, constantly sending fresh missionaries to Persia, Georgia, Armenia (1329); Malabar (1330), China and Tatary (1331); Bosnia (1340).

In 1329 John XXII sent him to King Charles Robert of Hungary and to Ban Stephen of Bosnia for the purpose of bringing about the extermination of the heretics, largely Patarenes, in these countries. On 5 September 1333, Gerardus and the Dominican Arnauld de Saint-Michel (Arnauldus de S. Michaele) were appointed papal legates to make peace between the Kings of England and Scotland. The procurator of the Scottish king in Paris having reported, however, that his master was not to be found in Scotland, John recalled the commission of the legates, 31 October 1333.

Gerardus remained in Paris and defended before a large number of professors of the university, on 18 December 1333, the opinion of John XXII concerning the Visio beatifica, namely, that the saints do not enjoy the complete Beatific Vision until after the Last Judgment. The University of Paris was greatly agitated by the controversy, and the next day, 19 December, Philip VI of France called together twenty-nine professors at Vincennes to discuss the question. This assembly dissented from the opinion of the pope, as did also a second assembly which met 2 Jan., 1334. John XXII withdrew his opinion, 3 December 1334.

Gerardus Odonis was also one of the commission of sixteen masters of theology which met by command of Benedict XII from 4 July to 4 Sept., 1334, at Pont-Sorgues near Avignon, to discuss, under the pope's presidency, the question of the Visio beatifica. On 27 Nov., 1342, Benedict XII appointed him Patriarch of Antioch and at the same time Bishop of Catania[3] in Sicily.

Black Death[edit]

In October 1347 the Black Death arrived in the nearby Sicilian port of Messina. The Messinese asked Gerardus Odonis for the relics of St Agatha to be moved from Catania to Messina. He agreed to this, but the citizens of Catania did not. As a compromise Gerardus dipped the relics in water and personally took the water to Messina. After his return from Messina Gerardus himself died of the black death. He was buried in the cathedral at Catania.[4]


Apart from the "Constitutiones Benedictinae" and the "Officium de stigmatibus S. Francisci", still recited in he Franciscan Order and commonly attributed to Gerardus, the best known of his writings is his "Commentarius [Expositio] in Aristotelis Ethicam" (Brescia, 1482, Venice, 1500). This work brought him the honour later of being called Doctor Moralis. He also wrote on logic and a treatise entitled "Philosophia Naturalis", in which he is said to have apparently taught Atomism; another work was a "Commentarius in IV libros Sententiarum". Among his exegetical works are: "De figuris Bibliorum", and treatises on the Psalter, the First Epistle to the Corinthians, and the Epistle to the Galatians, besides "Sermones". In addition to taking severe measures against the adherents of the deposed Michael of Cesena, Gerardus addressed to the latter the writing "Quid niteris", to which, however, Cesena soon made a rejoinder beginning "Teste Salomone".


  1. ^ Geraldus Othonis, or Ottonis
  2. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Gerardus Odonis". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  3. ^ "Gerard of Odo". 
  4. ^ Ziegler, Philip (1969). The Black Death. Collins. pp. 40–43. 


  • Giraldus Odonis O. F. M.: Opera Philosophica, Critical edition from the manuscripts by L. M. De Rijk, Leiden, Brill: 1. Logica (1997), 2. De Intentionibus (2005).
  • Gerald Odonis, Doctor Moralis and Franciscan Minister General. Studies in Honour of L.M. de Rijk. Edited by William Duba and Chris Schabel (Vivarium, 47, 2-3, 2009).
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bertrand de Turre as Vicar general
Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor
Succeeded by
Fortanerio de Vassal
Preceded by
Bishop of Catania
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by