Saint Colette of Corbie, Reforming Abbess

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My beloved Poor Ladies at Bethlehem Monastery in Barhamsville, Virginia gently chided me for forgetting that today is indeed the solemn festival of Saint Colette, their mother after Saint Clare. In Rome we were all about Blessed Pius IX today!

The Ty Mam Duw Poor Clares in Wales have a very rich section on Saint Colette on their site. Do read it!

Mother Vicaress Thérèse offered to post Paul Claudel's poem on Saint Colette for us. We are waiting, Mother! Blessed festival of Saint Colette to her worthy daughters the world over, especially to those who bear her name!

The Ty Mam Duw Poor Ladies write:

Colette's intercession with the Lord has spanned the five centuries since her death, calling forth miracles of love. The deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk and the dead are restored to life.


Colette's method of proclaiming the Gospel was not to preach but to pray. Her whole life was spent in prayer. Even when she was asked to help her brothers the Friars Minor, in their reform, and was invited into their chapter room, she did not tell them what they ought to do, she simply knelt down and prayed, and those who watched, one by one, also fell on their knees.

There is a lot of talk today among religious about "refounding" their institutes. Most are still reticent about "reforming" them. To acknowledge the need for reform implies that, somewhere along the way, we have become deformed. It takes humility and courage to say, "We have made mistakes. We have made wrong decisions. We are not living in fidelity to the grace of our origins. Worldliness and activism are snuffing out the living flame of love." Saint Colette shows all of us the way to true reform. Reform begins in prayer. Reform is sustained by prayer. Reform bears fruit — fruit that will abide (Jn 15:16) — in prayer.

Reform, like conversion, is ongoing. It is movement. Mother Rosaria, with her walking stick and pilgrim's hat (looking ever so much like Saint Colette), shows us the way: one step at at time.


+Dear Father,
Thank you! You never fail us, and we are forever grateful to you. Time does not allow me to post the long poem now, but hopefully soon.

+Dear Father,
Here is the promised poem by Paul Claudel. Perhaps you can reflect on it for the anniversary of St. Colette's death March 6th, since her feast is behind us now. Many of us wish her feast could be transferred to that day, since Feb. 7th does not have much significance. I am not including the whole poem here, but you it should give a good sense of it.
"Twas the hour of the flaming out of the sun from
the fogs of the North
When Colette, as a grain full-ripe, sees the shell
burst forth
Of the narrow cell she had built twelve feet from
the altar of God
Its sill no more to be trod.
But now the voice of heaven has sounded: "Forth,
and abroad!"
No need of enclosure now in the shell of stone;
She is free in the salt of heaven, she is walled
in light alone.
God, knowing good before ill, to this girl has given
No brief temporal task, but to heal
The hurts of a land, of a Church, that are rent and riven.

So then, like a diligent needle, in and out of the torn
and ravelled realm of France
Glides she, and mends from beneath; and whatever the lance
Has left agape, with charity sweet she bindeth in one.
Innocent, guided by God, she knows not what she has done:
She sees but Him and His ways: she hears but Him and obeys.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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