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March 6

St Collete of Corbie - March 6

Saint Colette of Corbie

Abbess, Virgin, Foundress of Poor Clare Colettines

(1381 – 1447)

“If there be a true way that leads to the Everlasting Kingdom, it is most certainly that of suffering, patiently endured.”

Saint Colette of Corbie

Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life  

Colette was a miracle baby, born to to Robert Boellet, a poor carpenter who worked at the Benedictine Abbey of Corbie, and to his wife, Marguerite. Her parents, both over sixty years of age, who had been praying for a child to Saint Nicholas of Myra. Born at Corbie in Picardy, France on January 13, 1381, Nicolette was named in honor of St. Nicholas and was known by her nickname, Colette. Quiet and hard-working, Colette was a pious child who demonstrated a sensitive and loving nature.

A Tertiary Franciscan Nun

When Colette was 17, both of her parents died and was left her in the care of a Benedictine abbot. She distributed her inheritance to the poor and initially joined the Beguine and Benedictine orders, but neither one worked out for her. Instead, she became a third order Franciscan. 

An Anchoress

At age 21, Colette renounced the world in order to spend her life alone in penance and prayer as an anchoress. As a recluse, she was walled into a cell whose only opening was a grilled window into a church. In 1406, she left her cell in response to visions she had in which Saint Francis of Assisi ordered her to restore the Rule of Saint Clare to its original severity. When she hesitated, she was struck blind for three days and mute for three more.  Colette saw this as a sign to take action to reform the Poor Clares and to return it to its original Franciscan ideals of absolute poverty and austerity. 

Became a Poor Clare

Colette tried to follow her mission by explaining it, but had no success. Realizing she needed more authority behind her words, she walked to Nice, France, barefoot and clothed in a habit of patches. Here, Colette met the Antipope Benedict XIII of Avignon who was recognized in France as the rightful pope. He professed her a Poor Clare.  He was so impressed that he appointed her superior general of all convents that she might reform or found. 

A Poor Clare on a Reform Mission

With the aid of the Franciscan preacher, Henry de Beaume (her confessor and spiritual director), Colette began her work at Beaune, in the Diocese of Geneva. She remained there only a short time. Eventually, Colette made some progress, especially in Savoy, where her reform gained sympathizers and recruits.In 1410, she opened her first monastery at Besançon, in an almost-abandoned house of Urbanist Poor Clares. From there, her reform spread to Auxonne (1412), to Poligny (1415), to Ghent (1412), to Heidelberg (1444), to Amiens, to Pont-à-Mousson in Lorraine and to other communities of Poor Clares. During her lifetime, 17 convents of her reform were founded. For her reform, she prescribed extreme poverty, going barefoot, and the observance of perpetual fasting and abstinence.

Colette was well-known for her wisdom, sanctity, ecstasies, and visions of the Passion. She was also known for her appreciation and care for animals. Colette helped Saint Vincent Ferrer heal the papal schism.

In addition to the strict rules of the Poor Clares, the Colettines follow their special Constitutions, approved by Pope Nicholas V, by Pope Pius II, and by Pope Sixtus IV.

Her Miracles

Helping a Mother in Childbirth

While traveling to Nice to meet Pope Benedict, Colette stayed at the home of a friend. His wife was in labor at that time with their third child. She was having major difficulties in the childbirth to the point where she was danger of death. Colette immediately went to the local church to pray for her.

The mother gave birth successfully and survived the ordeal. She credited Colette’s prayers for this. The child born, a girl named Petronilla, later entered a monastery founded by Colette. She would become Colette’s secretary and biographer.

Saving a Sick Child

A local peasant woman gave birth to a stillborn child. In desperation, out of fear for the child’s soul, the father took the baby to the local parish priest for baptism. Seeing that the child was already dead, the priest refused to baptize the body. When the man became insistent, out of frustration, the priest told him to go to the nuns, which he did immediately. When he arrived at the monastery, Mother Colette was made aware of his situation by the portress. Her response was to take off the veil given to her by the Pope, when he gave her the habit of the Second Order, and told the portress to have the father wrap the child’s body in it and for him to return to the priest. By the time he arrived at the parish church with his small bundle, the child was conscious and crying. The priest immediately baptized the baby.

Her Death

Colette was a gifted mystic who fortold her own death at the convent in in Ghent, Belgium. On March 6, 1447, Colette died. Her relics came to rest at Poligny in northern France.

Colettine nuns are found in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Norway, the Philippines, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Born :                  January 13, 1381 in Corbie, Picandy, France

Died:                   March 6 (Feast Day) 1447 at age 66 in Ghent, Belgium

Beatified:           January 23, 1740 by Pope Clememnt XII

Canonized:        May 24, 1807 by Pope Pius VII

Feast Day:         March 6, February 7 (Franciscans)

Patron Saint:    Against Eye Disorders; Against Infertility; Corbie, France; Expectant Mothers; Ghent, Belgium; Poor Clares; Sick Children; Unborn Babies

Source:

Reflection

Saint Colette of Corbie’s love of poverty was great, in her imitation of that of Christ, that she never put on so much as sandals, going always barefoot.  She would go onto reform 17 convents with her rule that the nuns go barefooted, observe perpetual fast and abstinence, and practice extreme poverty. 

What can you “reform” in your life today? Like Saint Colette of Corbie, what ways of St Francis of Assisi can you take up today to grow closer to God?

Prayers

Prayer for a Special Intention

O  glorious Saint Colette,
I beseech you through the burning love which
inflamed your heart for Jesus
in the Most Holy Sacrament,
through the marvelous graces
with which He enriched you and
the loving compassion you did bear
to Him in His bitter sufferings,
obtain from Him for me
my requests. . . .,
which I hope to receive
through your powerful intercession. Amen.

LET US PRAY:

O Lord Jesus Christ,
who have enriched Your spouse,
Saint Colette,
with heavenly graces,
grant, we beseech You,
that we may imitate her virtues
here on earth, and with her
enjoy the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.

Saint Colette of Corbie, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 6 March – St Colette

Bartleby.com – Rev. Alban Butler Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. March 6 B. Colette, Virgin and Abbess

Catholic Exchange – St. Colette

Catholic Fire – St. Colette: Abbess, Mystic, Reformer

Catholic Online – St. Colette

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Colettes

Franciscan Media – Saint Colette

New Advent – Bihl, M. (1908). St. Colette. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Newman Ministry – Saint Colette

Reason2bCatholic – Saints Alive! | St. Colette of Corbie

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Colette’ Story

Saint of the Day – March 6 Saint Colette

Sanctoral – Saint Colette Virgin, Reformer of the Poor Clares (1380-1447)

uCatholic – Saint Colette

Wikipedia – Colette of Corbie

Video Link

Cradio Saint of the Day: Saint Colette – YouTube (CatholicSaints.Info)

St Colette – Saint of the Day with Fr Lindsay – YouTube (St Francis Xavier – SPRING of FAITH)