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life of Saint Colette, founder of Colettine Poor Clares and reformer.
Colette began her reform during the time of the
Great Western Schism (1378-1417) when three men claimed to be pope and
thus divided Western Christianity. The 15th century in general was a very
difficult one for the Western Church. Abuses long neglected cost the
Church dearly in the following century. Colette reintroduced the
primitive Rule of St. Clare in the 17 monasteries she established.
The Blessing of Saint Colette
May the Father in his mercy,
and the son by his passion, and the Holy Spirit,
the fountain of peace and sweetness and love
fill you with all consolations.
This painting was done by the
Sisters of the Poor Clare Colettines, Hawarden, WALES GB.
Their website is
Ty Mam Duw is Welsh and means
The House of the Mother of God.
The Sisters say
that on the "left of this painting is a small icon representing
Colette as the nurturer of life to whom we pray for the unborn, on
the right is Colette and her vision of the golden trees, and the
middle is representative of Colette leading others through the
reed sea into the freedom of the Spirit."
The vision of the golden trees is explained
Founder of Colettine Poor Clares (Clarisses),
born 13 January 1381, at Corbie in Picardy, France; died at Ghent, 6
March, 1447. Her father, Robert Boellet, was the carpenter of the famous
Benedictine Abbey of Corbie; her mother's name was Marguerite Moyon.
Colette joined successively the Bequines, the Benedictines, and the
Urbanist Poor Clares. Later she lived for a while as a recluse. Having
resolved to reform the Poor Clares, she turned to the antipope, Benedict
XIII (Pedro de Luna), then recognized by France as the rightful pope.
Benedict allowed her to enter to the order of Poor Clares and empowered
her by several Bulls, dated 1406, 1407, 1408, and 1412 to found new
convents and complete the reform of the order. With the approval of the
Countess of Geneva and the Franciscan Henri de la Beaume, her confessor
and spiritual guide, Colette began her work at Beaume, in the Diocese of
Geneva. She remained there but a short time and soon opened at Besanšon
her first convent in an almost abandoned house of Urbanist Poor Clares.
Thence her reform spread to Auxonne (1410), to Poligny, to Ghent (1412),
to Heidelberg (1444), to Amiens, etc. To the seventeen convents founded
during her lifetime must be added another begun by her at Pont-Ó-Mousson
in Lorraine. She also inaugurated a reform among the Franciscan friars
(the Coletani), not to be confounded with the Observants. These Coletani
remained obedient to the authority of the provincial of the Franciscan
convents, and never attained much importance even in France. In 1448 they
had only thirteen convents, and together with other small branches of the
Franciscan Order were suppressed in 1417 by Leo X. In addition to the
strict rules of the Poor Clares, the Colettines follow their special
constitutions sanctioned in 1434 by the General of the Franciscans,
William of Casale, approved in 1448 by Nicholas V, in 1458 by Pius II, and
in 1482 by Sixtus IV.
St. Colette was beatified 23 January, 1740, and
canonized 24 May, 1807. She was not only a woman of sincere piety, but
also intelligent and energetic, and exercised a remarkable moral power
over all her associates. She was very austere and mortified in her life,
for which God rewarded her by supernatural favours and the gift of
miracles. For the convents reformed by her she prescribed extreme poverty,
to go barefooted, and the observance of perpetual fast and abstinence. The
Colettine Sisters are found today, outside of France, in Belgium, Germany,
Spain, England, and the United States.
LETTER FROM ST. COLETTE
To Marie de Boen of Ghent c. 1442
Dear Lady and especially loved
in Our Lord Jesus Christ, as much and as humbly as I can and
may, I recommend myself always to your good grace and in
your devout prayers and supplications before Our Lord Jesus
I beg you to strive ceaselessly to go from strength to
strength in his most perfect love, remaining continually,
strong and virtuous in his most holy and worthy service; for
the kingdom is promised to those who set out on this way,
but it is to those who persevere loyally that the crown will
be given. And as long as we are alive there will be many
perils, especially from our enemies, the world and the
flesh, who day and night wage war on us in numberless ways.
Against these we must arm and defend ourselves, for it is
needful for us to conquer them if we do not want to be
overcome ourselves, and, as Saint Paul says, we cannot have
the victory without a battle, nor a crown without a victory.
We can do nothing by ourselves
without the aid and grace of God. We can neither do good nor
resist our enemies. We need to turn to our good and true
Master, Our Lord Jesus Christ and to beg him to equip us
with his weapons so that we can the more surely overcome.
These weapons, among others with which he was armed in this
poor world, while bringing about and fulfilling the mystery
of our redemption in the face of these three adversaries
were: against the world, true and holy poverty from his
birth until his death stripped naked on the cross: against
the flesh, pure, holy and perfect chastity of heart and
body, born and conceived of a pure, virgin mother: against
the Adversary, perfect humility and true obedience right up
to his death and all in perfect charity.
And whoever is thus armed can go
forward into battle with sure heart. In short, these are the
weapons with which he has wished to equip those men and
women whom by means of his grace he has wished to call into
his service, and who have wanted to follow him in the life
of the Gospel and the way of the Apostles.
And I beseech him in his
infinite goodness always to watch over and guard you
completely, and so to enlighten you with his grace, that you
may serve him always and endlessly, and love Him in the way
of life which is most pleasing to him, and fight for him
loyally under the banner of his Church. Thus you will be
able to love him everlastingly and reign in his glorious,
heavenly palace, for ever and ever.
Amen. Your unworthy handmaid who prays for you,
Sister Colette. Letter to Marie de Boen of Ghent c. 1442