Saint Colette: Virgin, Abbess, Mystic, Reformer
Today is the feast of St. Colette, founder of the Poor Clare Colettines.
Colette was a miracle baby, born to parents over sixty years of age, who had been praying for a child to Nicholas of Myra. Born at Corbie in Picardy, France in 1380, 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.
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. At age 21, she renounced the world in order to spend her life alone in penance and prayer as an anchoress – walled into a cell whose only opening was a grilled window into a church. She left her cell in 1406 in response to a dream directing her to reform the Poor Clares.
She entered the order of Poor Clares, was appointed superior general, and began a successful reform of the Poor Clare convent at Beaume, Switzerland, which spread rapidly through France, Savoy, Germany, and Flanders. She revived the primitive rule and spirit of St. Francis. Her rule prescribed that the nuns go barefooted, observe perpetual fast and abstinence, and practice extreme poverty. She 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 and she founded seventeen convents.
St. Colette was beatified in 1740, and canonized in 1807. The Colettine Sisters are found today, outside of France, in Belgium, Germany, Spain, England, and the United States.
St. Colette is the patron saint of those who have lost parents.
“If there be a true way that leads to the Everlasting Kingdom, it is most certainly that of suffering, patiently endured.”
“We must faithfully keep what we have promised. If through human weakness we fail, we must always without delay arise again by means of holy penance, and give our attention to leading a good life and to dying a holy death. May the Father of all mercy, the Son by his holy passion, and the Holy Spirit, source of peace, sweetness and love, fill us with their consolation. Amen.”
“My eyes, I have filled with Jesus upon Whom I have fixed them at the Elevation of the Host at Holy Mass and I do not wish to replace Him with any other image.”
~ St. Collette