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February 24

St Adela of Blois - February 24

Saint Adela of Blois 

Countess, Mother, Nun

(Around 1067 – 1137)

“Take up the weapons of the glorious army for the salvation of many thousands.”

Saint Adela of Blois

Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life  

Adela was born around 1067 in Normandy, France. She was the youngest daughter of William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and later the King of England, and his wife Mathilde of Flanders. Adela was very well educated, spoke several languages, and was deeply religious. 

Married at 15

Around the year 1080, Adela married Stephen III, Count of Blois, who was one of the richest men in Europe. Together, they had 11 children although some of them may have been Stephen’s children from a previous marriage because he was 20 years older than Adela.

Endowed Abbeys and Churches

Adela supported scholars and poets at her court, and this significantly contributed to the spiritual and cultural life of her time. She continue this support all of her life. She also generously endowed abbeys and churches with money so they could expand and preserve the culture and arts of the time. Adela also corresponded on ecclesiastical matters with the Bishop of Le Mans.

Her Husband off to the First Crusade

In 1095, Stephen became one of the leaders of the First Crusade, whose purpose was to reclaim the Holy Land for the Christians. During the four years that he was away, Adela controlled hundreds of his estates in France. In her governance, she was so effective that she became known as “the heroine of the First Crusade.” Stephen returned home for a time, during which Adela conceived their youngest son.  But then Stephen went back to the Holy Land where he was killed after the Battle of Ramala in 1102. 

Adela also worked with Bishop Ivo of Chartres at various points. She exchanged letters throughout her regency to discuss matters such as the control of misbehaving nuns and larger issues such as disputes about sworn oaths. 

Regent

After her husband’s death and in the early year of her son Thibaud’s reign, Adela then became regent. In 1109, her eldest son, Thibaud, was old enough to rule his father’s estates on his own.  However, Adela continued to exert influence over the estates by her good advice. Adela had chosen him rather than his elder brother William as heir, as she did not think William fit to rule. Even when Thibaud came of age, Adela continued to issue charters and to act as co-regent of many parts of their lands. She did not secure a marriage alliance for him. Thibaud did not get married till after she retired in 1120, allowing her to keep her power and influence.

Adela was an accomplished and influential woman. She wrote many letters which can still be read today. Her personal chamber was adorned with scenes from the bible, mythology, her father’s conquest of England and images of the academic subjects of the time, displaying her love of learning. She contributed greatly to the economic and cultural well-being of her lands and was generous in endowing monasteries and churches.

Her Children

Adela was a devout sympathizer with the Benedictines. She had her children educated by high-ranking tutors. One child, Hugh, was dedicated to God as an oblate at Cluny Abbey.  He went on to be appointed Abbot of Glastonbury and Bishop of Winchester. In that capacity, he was responsible for a huge building program of churches and chapels. Hugh also sponsored many books, including the Winchester Bible. Another son, Stephen, was a favourite at the court of Henry I and  seized the English throne from the rightful heiress, the Empress Matilda, which led to the long civil war.

Became a Nun

In 1122, when her children were grown, Adela became a nun in Marcigny Convent in Eastern France, near the great Benedictine Abbey of Cluny, This convent followed the rule of life given by St. Benedict. Adela lived the life of a nun, devoting herself to prayer. However she remained in contact with her family and the ecclesiastical rulers of the lands she had once governed, maintaining her influence. While in the convent, she was overjoyed that her youngest son Henry was made a bishop in 1129. 

Her Death

Adela lived in the convent in prayer and humility until her death on March 8, 1137.

Born :                  Around 1067 in Normandy, France

Died:                   March 8, 1137 in Marcigny, France

Beatified:           Not Known

Canonized:        Not Known

Feast Day:          February 24

Patron Saint:     None

Source:

Reflection

Saint Adela of Blois is an excellent example of how people with money and power can use these to advance the Kingdom of God. We may not have as much money and power as she did, but what we have we can use to help others learn about and follow Jesus.

What do you have or can you do today that can help others to see Jesus? Whle we may not all have the riches of Saint Adela of Blois, we all have precious time that we can give to others in need.

Prayers

Saint Adela of Blois, you used your wealth and power to advance the Kingdom of God.  Help us to embrace humility and generosity in our own lives.  Grant us the strength to live lives of holiness and integrity. Pray for us, that we may grow in our love for God and others, that we may be instruments of God’s grace and mercy in the world, and that we may one day join you in the eternal joy of Heaven.

Saint Adela of Blois, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Catholic Online – Adela

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Adela of Blois

Galway Cathedral – Saint of the Month: St Adela of Blois Feast Day- February 24

Living Faith – Saint Adela

Patron Saint Stories – Saint Adela

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Adela’s Story

Wikipedia – Adela of Normandy

Video Link

St. Adela of Blois: Heroin of the First Crusades – YouTube (Awaken The Saint)