st.Colette-Founder of the Colettine Poor Clares (Clarisses), mystic

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Feast Day : March 6



Colette was born on January 13, 1381, in Corbie, Picardy, France. Her father, Robert Boellet, was a carpenter at the Benedictine Abbey of Corbie. Colette was orphaned at age 13. She joined the Bequines, Benedictines and Urbanists Poor Clares, and lived for a time as a hermit. In 1406, she had a vision in which St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi instructed her to reform the Poor Clares, who had fallen into lax ways. She was empowered to do so by Pope Benedict XIII (the antipope recognized by France), and followed through with reforms and the founding of 17 new convents in France and Europe. She reformed the Franciscan friars (the Coletani), a small order that eventually was suppressed in 1417 by Leo X (r. 1513–21). Colette’s reforms included extreme poverty, going barefoot, and perpetual fasts and abstinence. Colette was a friend of St. Vincent Ferrar, and helped him in his work to heal the Great Western Schism. At her convent in Ghent, Belgium, she foresaw her own death. In February 1447, she announced that she would die soon. She told her sisters not to wait for her to say anything at her death, for she would say nothing. One month later, she donned the veil given her by Benedict XIII (r. 1724–30) in 1406 when he named her abbess general of the Poor Clares. She wore it only for special occasions. She laid down on her bed and said “This is the last time I shall lie down.” She died two days later on March 6 at age 66. About 12 hours after her death, her worn body began to transform and become a beautiful and fragrant white. It still looked that way when she was buried three days later. Colette had numerous mystical experiences and ecstasies and is credited with many miracles. Early in her religious life, she experienced a mystical marriage with St. John the Apostle (also called St. John the Divine). John appeared in a vision and placed a beautiful gold ring upon her finger, saying as he did so, “by my own right and on behalf of the sovereign King and Prince of virginity and chastity.” Colette kept her ring in a box and showed it to very few people. She shared her experience with few as well. She remained especially devoted to St. John. Colette had the gift of prophecy, seeing not only her own death, but also that of St. Vincent Ferrar. She accurately told him that he would die in less than two years in France. On Fridays, Colette had 12-hour visions of the Passion from which she suffered torments and great bruises upon her body, in sympathy with the suffering of Christ. In her travels, Colette seems to have been guided by angels who held her up on her mules and enabled her to walk extremely fast as though her feet did not touch the ground. Once during her reforms, she was opposed by the head of a monastery who punished the Franciscan friars of Dole—who had accepted her reforms—by cutting off their food supply. For an entire year, Colette’s convent supplied the friars with grain, despite the fact that they did not have enough in their granary to do so. The grain was always taken to the monastery on a very small donkey

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