Saint Adelaide of Burgundy

detail of a statue of Saint Adelaide, Abbess of Seltz, Alsace, France, date unknown, artist unknown; the coloring is from a stained glass window; photographed by Rh-67 in 2010; swiped off Wikimedia CommonsAlso known as

  • Adelaide of Italy
  • Adelheid….
  • Alice….



Born a princess, the daughter of King Rudolf II (Rupert II) of Upper Burgundy. Promised at age two in an arranged marriage as part of a treaty between Rudolf and Hugh of Provence. Married at age 16 to Lothair of Italy, who eventually became king of Italy. Widowed in 950 while still a teenager; Lothair was probably poisoned by his successor to the throne, Berengarius. As part of his attempt to solidify his grip on power, Berengarius ordered Adelaide to marry his son; she refused, and was imprisoned. She was freed soon after when the German king Otto the Great defeated Berengarius.

Adelaide married Otto in Pavia, Italy in 951. He was crowned Emperor in Rome, Italy in 952, and Adelaide reigned with him for 20 years. Widowed in 973, she was ill-treated by her step-son, Emperor Otto II and his wife Theophano, but eventually reconciled with her royal in-laws.

When Otto II died in 983, he was succeeded by his infant son, Otto III. Theophano acted as regent, and since she still did not like Adelaide, used her power to exile her from the royal court. Theophano died in 991, and Adelaide returned once again to the court to act as regent for the child emperor. She used her position and power to help the poor, to evangelize, especially among the Slavs, and to build and restore monasteries and churches. When Otto III was old enough, Adelaide retired to the convent of Selta near Cologne, a house she had built. Though she never became a nun, she spent the rest of her days there in prayer.






  • empress dispensing alms and food to the poor, often beside a ship
  • escaping from prison in a boat
  • holding a church
  • veil
Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Adelaide of Burgundy“. CatholicSaints.Info. 12 November 2021. Web. 27 January 2022. <>