Oil dedicated to St Notker Balbulus
The Oil dedicated to St Notker Balbulus is dedicated to the 9th century “Monk of St Gall”
Notker the Stammerer (840 – 912 AD), was a musician, author, poet, and Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Saint Gall, in Switzerland. He is commonly accepted to be the “Monk of Saint Gall” who wrote the “deeds of Charlemagne”.
Notker was born around 840, to a distinguished family. Ekkehard IV, the biographer of the monks of Saint Gall, lauds him as “delicate of body but not of mind, stuttering of tongue but not of intellect, pushing boldly forward in things Divine, a vessel of the Holy Spirit without equal in his time”. He died in 912. He was beatified in 1512.
Work attributed to St Notker
He completed Erchanbert’s chronicle, arranged a martyrology, composed a metrical biography of Saint Gall, and authored other works.
In his martyrology, he appeared to corroborate one of St Columba’s miracles. St Columba, being an important father of Irish monasticism, was also important to St Gall and thus to Notker’s own monastery. Adomnan of Iona had written that at one point Columba had through clairvoyance seen a city in Italy near Rome being destroyed by fiery sulphur as a divine punishment and that three thousand people had perished. And shortly after Columba saw this, sailors from Gaul arrived to tell the news of it.
The “Monk of Saint Gall” the ninth-century writer of a volume of didactic eulogistic anecdotes regarding the Emperor Charlemagne, is now commonly believed to be Notker the Stammerer. This monk is known from his work to have been a native German-speaker. The monk himself relates that he was raised by Adalbert, a former soldier who had fought against the Saxons. He was also a friend of Adalbert’s son, Werinbert, another monk at Saint Gall, who died as the book was in progress.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.