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The future abbess was born of devout parents in Soissons, France in the first half of the seventh century. From an early age, she felt drawn to God and resolved to renounce the world in pursuit of eternal truths. In this resolution she was encouraged by St. Ouen the Bishop of Rouen. With the consent and support of her parents she entered the monastery of Jouarre, near the city of Meaux, recently founded under the rule of St. Columban.
St. BertillaHere she was formed in the strictest practice of monastic perfection and became a model of perfect obedience and piety. She was also remarkable for her prudence and tact and the duties of hospitality, ministering to the sick and infirm, and the care of the children educated at the monastery were in turn committed to her charge.

Bertilla, however, had also a very strong temperament with a serious flaw: a temper. Her eighth-century biographer recounts the following incident in the life of the Saint:

“Once, when a troubled sister spoke angry words to her, Bertilla called down divine judgment upon her. Although the fault was forgiven, Bertilla worried about her curse. Then the sister died unexpectedly, choked by asthma. Not having heard the signal for the funeral, Bertilla asked the reason for the resounding chorus of psalms. When she learned of the sister’s death, she trembled fearfully. She hurried to the place where the little body lay lifeless and with great faith laid her hand on the dead nun’s breast. Bertilla ordered her receding soul through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, not to leave, but before she spoke with Him, to forgive her anger against her. And God permitted the spirit that had left the body to return to the corpse. To the amazement of all, the revived cadaver drew breath.

Looking at the servant of God, she said: “What have you done, sister? Why did you retrieve me from the way of light?”

“I beg you sister,” said Bertilla humbly, “to give me words of forgiveness, for once I cursed you when you had a troubled spirit.”

“May God forgive you,” said the nun. “I harbor no resentment in my heart against you now and I love you. Please entreat God for me and permit me to go in peace and don’t hold me back. For I am ready for the bright road and now I cannot start without your permission.”

“Go then in the peace of Christ,” said Bertilla, “and pray for me, sweet sister.”

When St. Bathildis, the wife of King Clovis II, founded the Benedictine Abbey of Notre-Dame-des-Chelles about the year 658, Bertilla became its first abbess. She governed the abbey with austerity and virtue, attracting many by her example. The saintly queen herself retired to Chelles in 664 and died there in 680. Attracted by the news of the holy abbess, Hereswitha, the sister of St. Hilda and widow of the king of the East Angles, also joined.

Having served as Abbess of Chelles for forty-six years, during which time her reputation for humility and gentleness spread widely, Bertilla died around the year 705.

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for January 28, 2020

In the realm of evil thoughts none induces to sin as much as...

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January 28

 

In the realm of evil thoughts  
none induces to sin  
as much as do thoughts 

that concern the pleasure of the flesh. 

St. Thomas Aquinas


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Thomas Aquinas

Falling to his knees he begged God for the virtue of integri...

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St. Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas was born about 1225 in the castle of Rocca Secca, into the noble lineage of the family of Aquino. His father, Landulf, was a knight and his mother, Theodora, a countess.

At age five Thomas was sent to the Benedictines of Monte Cassino as an oblate and remained until thirteen. He was studious, meditative and devoted to prayer, and frequently asked the question, “What is God?”

Around 1236, the Abbot convinced Thomas’ father that such a talented lad should go to Naples to study, and there he shone academically. In Naples Thomas came under the influence of the Dominican Order of Preachers, and at nineteen was received into the Order.

His family was indignant because he had chosen a mendicant order. At Theodora’s orders two of his soldier-brothers imprisoned him in a castle. They even introduced a temptress into Thomas’ chamber whom he drove away with a brand snatched from the fire. Falling to his knees he begged God for the virtue of integrity of mind and body.  Falling asleep, he dreamt of two angels who girded him with a white girdle saying, “receive the girdle of perpetual virginity”, and he was never tempted by the flesh again – for which he is called “The Angelic Doctor”. He spent the two years of his captivity praying, studying and writing.

Finally his mother relented. Returning to the Dominicans they found that he had made so much progress on his own, that he was soon ordained. Sent to study in Cologne under St. Albert Magnus, his great size and silence earned him the encomium of “the Dumb Ox” but hearing his brilliant defense of a difficult thesis, St. Albert responded, "We call this young man a dumb ox, but his bellowing in doctrine will one day resound throughout the world."

Thomas received his doctorate in Theology in Paris, and went on to teach, preach, and write extensively. Between 1259 and 1268 he was in Italy as Preacher General teaching in the school of selected scholars attached to the Papal court. About 1266 he began writing the most famous of all his works, The Summa Theologiae.

In 1269 he was back in Paris, where he was a friend and counselor of King St. Louis IX. In 1272 he was recalled to Italy. On the feast of St. Nicholas the following year he received a revelation that caused him to leave his great Summa unfinished saying, “…all that I have written seems like so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.”

Becoming ill, Thomas died on March 7, 1274 at fifty years of age. He was canonized in 1323 and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope St. Pius V in 1567.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a con...

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Our Lady and the Three Dresses

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a convent. Day after day, they took their meals together, they went to chapel together, and they prayed and sang together.

One day, their priest-confessor advised them that, as a preparation for the feast of the purification of Mary, they should recite the whole Rosary every day for forty days. The three nuns obediently complied.

On the night before that holy feast day, the Heavenly Mother appeared to the three nuns as they gathered in the choir. To the first of these three sisters she handed a rich garment, embroidered with gold. Holy Mary thanked her and blessed her.

She then handed to the second nun a much simpler garment, and also thanked her. Noticing the difference in the two garments, the second sister asked, "Oh Lady, why have you brought my sister a richer garment?" Mary Most Holy lovingly replied, "Because she has clothed me more richly with her prayers than you have done."

Mary then approached the third nun with a canvas garment. Being an observant young lady, this sister at once asked pardon for the half-hearted way in which she had prayed her rosaries.

A full year had passed when all three fervently prepared for the same feast, each saying her Rosary with great devotion. On the evening preceding the festival, Mary appeared to them in glory, and said to them: "Be prepared, for tomorrow you shall come to paradise."

The following morning dawned, full of promise. Each nun wondered if this would be her last day in this vale of tears. When evening came, would they retire to their modest cells once more, or did Holy Mary have something else in store for them?

The sisters related to their confessor what had occurred, and received communion in the morning. At the hour of compline (evening prayers) they saw again the most holy Virgin, who came to take them with her. Amid the songs of angels, one after the other sweetly expired.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a convent. Day after day, they took their meals together, they went to chapel together, and they prayed and sang together.

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