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Saint Colette of Corbie

"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. Colette

Saint Colette founded the Colettine Poor Clares (better known as the Poor Clares) and is the Patron Saint of expectant mothers and sick children.

Saint Colette was born as Nicole Boellet on January 13th, 1381, in the village of Corbie, then the Dutchy of Burgundy. Her parents were old - her mother was already 60 when she gave birth to Saint Colette. Both parents had been praying fervently to Saint Nicholas for help in conceiving a child when their prayers were answered. In thanksgiving to the Saint's intercession, they decided to name their new daughter after him (Nicole) though her parents affectionally called her Nicolette, which was eventually shortened to her now more common name of Colette. Her father worked as a carpenter at the nearby Benedictine Abbey of Corbie and growing up Saint Colette was frequently exposed to the religious life of those living there.

Tragically, in 1399, Saint Colette lost both of her parents. She initially joined the Beguines , a lay religious order popular in Western Europe during the time, but began to feel that the group did not challenge her enough spiritually. She became a student under the Abbot of Corbie and under his direction took the habit of the Third Order of Saint Francis in September of 1402. For the next four years she followed a strict ascetic and hermit way of life where she experienced several dreams and visions that led her to believe she was being called from Heaven to reform the Franciscan Second Order.

In 1406 she approached Benedict XIII of Avignon - at the time, Benedict was considered the Anitpope, though many in France believed him to be the rightful Pope. On her way to Nice to visit him, she performed her first miracle at the home of a friend. While staying at his home and resting for the rest of the voyage, she found out that her friend's wife was having a very, very difficult childbirth that was likely going to result in her death. Saint Colette immediately left to home and went to the closest church where she began to pray reverently at the altar. When she returned, the wife had given a very healthy birth no problems - she completely credited Saint Colette's intercession through prayer with the miraculous healthy childbirth. The baby was named Petronilla and would later in life enter in a monastery founded by Colette to serve as secretary and biographer for Saint Colette.

At Nice, Benedict allowed her to transfer into the Order of Poor Clares and empowered her to not only found new monasteries but also to begin totally reforming the Order. She began her reforms at Beaune but quickly moved - in 140 she opened her first monastery at Besancon, where she would perform a second miracle. Her arrival at the monastery was met with great suspicion, especially her calls for reform as the monastery completely relied on the town for sustenance. A young couple had given birth to a stillborn child that they immediately took to the priest for baptism as they feared for the child's soul. The priest, though, turned them away as the child was already dead. He recommended they go and visit the local nuns. Arriving at the monastery, the couple found Mother Colette and told her of the situation. She took the veil off given to her from Benedict and wrapped the child in it. She told them to go at once and return to the priest - when they did and unwrapped the veil they found the child alive and crying. The priest immediately performed the baptism to two very awestruck parents.

After Besancon, Saint Colette went in 1412 to Auxonne, in 1412 to Ghent, in 1444 to Heidelberg and in 1415 to Poligny. In total she would found 18 different monasteries, each following extreme poverty, barefoot walks, and strict observance of fasts and abstinence.

Saint Colette would die in Ghent on March 6, 1447. Pope Clement XII beatified her on January 23th, 1740 and she was formally canonized on May 24th, 1807 by Pope Pius VII. Colettine nuns today can be found in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Norway, the Philippines, Spain, United Kingdom and in the United States. Her feast day is celebrated on March 6th every year.

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