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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 December 6, 2019

The people of this world are wary of evil-doing for fear of...

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December 6

 

The people of this world are wary of evil-doing
for fear of temporal punishment.
How much more, then, should they be wary for fear of
the punishment of Hell, which is greater,
both in respect to its severity and in respect to its manifold nature:
Remember thy last end, and thou shall never sin.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Nicholas of Bari

He suffered imprisonment for his faith and made a glorious c...

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St. Nicholas of Bari

Nicholas is thought to have been born in Patara, Lycia, a province of Asia Minor. Myra was the capital, close to the ocean, and an episcopal see. When the see became vacant, Nicholas was chosen bishop and became famous and beloved for his extraordinary piety, zeal and many astonishing miracles.

He suffered imprisonment for his faith and made a glorious confession during the persecution of Diocletian.

He was also present at the Council of Nicaea and there condemned Arianism. St. Methodius asserts that thanks to the teaching of St. Nicholas, Myra alone was untouched by the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ.

Legend has it that the tradition of gift giving attached to St. Nicholas comes from the fact that he once helped a father and his three daughters. Hearing that they were destitute, and therefore could find no husbands, he slipped a bag of gold through the family’s window under the cover of darkness. At intervals, he did the same for the second and third girl, saving all three from a life of want and shame.

Nicholas died and was buried in his city of Myra, and by the time of Justinian, there was already a basilica built in his honor in Constantinople. Later, his relics were moved to the city of Bari, Italy, and many miracles were attributed to his intercession.

The devotion to St. Nicholas spread not only in the East but also in the West, and his image was amply reproduced, second only to that of Our Lady. In the later Middle Ages, there were nearly four hundred churches in England alone dedicated to him. In the East, St. Nicholas is venerated as patron of sailors, and in the West, of children.

In several European countries he is beloved as the pre-Christmas “gift giver”. The modern “Santa Claus” is a secular corruption of the saint.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One year, there was a famine, and most people were obliged t...

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The Heavenly Baker

In the time when Saint Catherine of Siena walked the streets of her quaint medieval town, she sometimes stayed at the house of a widow-friend, Alessia, to avoid the distractions of her noisy home.

One year, there was a famine, and most people were obliged to buy long stored wheat. The bread made from this wheat had a sour after-taste. But as the new harvest came in, and there was fresh wheat to buy, Alessia remarked to St. Catherine:

“Mother, this old wheat makes sour bread, so as the Lord has had pity on us, I will throw away the little that I still have.”

“You wish to throw away what the Lord has given us for our food?” replied Catherine, “at least give it to those who don’t even have that.”

“O, I feel guilty giving from the old wheat…I’d rather give from the new, fresh batch,” remonstrated Alessia.

Saint Catherine then asked that she give her the flour and some water, for she wished to make bread for the poor of Our Lord.

As Catherine worked, not only did she produce an astounding number of loaves from so little flour, but turned them out so fast that Alessia and her maid couldn’t believe their eyes.

Served at table, everyone was amazed how delicious and sweet these loaves were. “We haven’t tasted better!” they exclaimed. 

Moreover, when taken out to the poor and to the Friars, the bin kept giving without emptying.

Sometime later, on hearing of this miracle, St. Catherine’s confessor, Blessed Raymond of Capua, sensed that there was something “more” to this story, and pressed his spiritual child to tell him all.

So Catherine explained that as she had approached the flour box, she had seen the sweet Lady Mary standing there with several angels and saints graciously offering to help her make the bread.  So Mary Most Holy began to work the dough with Catherine, and by virtue of those immaculate hands not only was the wheat made sweet, but the number of loaves multiplied. 

“The Madonna herself gave me the loaves as she made them,” related Catherine, “and I passed them onto Alessia and her maid.”

“No wonder,” writes Blessed Raymond in his biography of Saint Catherine, “that that bread seemed so sweet , since it was made by the perfect hands of the holy queen, in whose most sacred body, the Trinity made the Bread that came down from heaven to give life to all unbelievers.”

And the same writer asserts that years after in Siena, people still treasured pieces of this blessed bread as relics. 

 

Taken from The Life of Saint Catherine of Siena by Blessed Raymond of Capua - By Andrea F. Phillips

 

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One year, there was a famine, and most people were obliged to buy long stored wheat.

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