St. Aldegund of Maubeuge: patroness of breast cancer
January 30 is the feast of St. Aldegund of Maubeuge, a French Benedictine abbess who is the patron saint of breast cancer. She is also invoked against eye troubles, other types of cancer, childhood diseases, fever, wounds, and sudden death.
Saint Aldegund, also known as Aldegonde, Aldegund, or Adelgondis, was born in 630 in Flanders in the province of Hainault which spanned the borders of modern Belgium and France. Saints Walbert and Bertilia, her parents, were of royal blood. Aldegund consecrated herself to God with a vow of virginity at a very young age.
She refused offers of marriage from other nobles, but chose to live a cloistered life. She entered the religious life and received the veil from St. Amandius, the Bishop of Maastricht. She then founded a monastery at a desert site called Malbode and became its first abbess. Her sister, St. Waldetrudis, founded a monastery at Mons. Aldegund’s foundation became Mauberge, a noted Benedictine monastery, later taken over by canonesses.
Saint Aldegund was blessed with the gift of prayer and endured much slander and persecutions with patience and fortitude, looking upon them as “the highest favors of divine mercy.” She suffered and died around 680 from a very painful breast cancer, “in an ecstasy of serene joy.”
Her relics are enshrined in the church of Maubeuge. She is the patron of a parish church at Saint-Omer under the name “Orgonne.” In art, Saint Aldegund is a Benedictine abbess, crowned. There is usually a dove with a veil near her. She is also shown (1) receiving the veil from the Holy Spirit; (2) as a princess fleeing from her parents’ house; (3) walking with an angel; or (4) walking on water.