Great Ladies of the
Poor Clares

Saint Colette of Corbie
(1381 - 1447)

The Little Handmaid

God, our Father, You set St. Colette as an example and leader
of evangelical perfection
for many virgins.
Grant that the spirit of St. Francis
which she wisely taught
and wondrously confirmed by her holy example,
may ever abide in us.
Through Christ our Lord.
  Amen.

      T

Born in Corbie , France , on January 13, 1381 , Colette grew up in the shadow of the local Benedictine monastery where her father worked as a master carpenter.  Even as a child, she was known for her love of Jesus, especially in the mysteries of His Passion, and for her devotion to the liturgical life of His Church.

        After the death of her parents, feeling called to a life of total consecration to God, Colette set out to discern her vocation.  Deeply attracted by the Franciscan ideal, she made Profession as a Tertiary and then, after much difficulty, received permission from the Benedictine abbot who was her guardian to become a recluse. Living enclosed in a small anchorhold attached to the local church, Colette gave herself to prayer and penance.

But God had other plans in mind for the anchoress of Corbie. He revealed to her not only the state of the Franciscan Order but also His plan to return it to its original fervor.  Our Lord showed 24-year-old Colette that she was to be His instrument, chosen to restore St. Clare’s religious family. Human fear and resistance yielded to divine insistence when Colette made her great act of surrender: Dear Lord, I am Your little handmaid.

Thus she began nearly forty years of self-sacrificing labors in a land riven by the Hundred Years’ War and the Great Western Schism.  When she died on March 6, 1447 , God’s little handmaid had founded or restored 22 monasteries which followed the primitive Rule of St. Clare, and Constitutions which Colette herself had composed.  Her legacy lives on today in the Poor Clare monasteries that trace their roots to the Colettine reform.   The text of St. Colette’s Dedication Prayer, which she so faithfully and fruitfully lived, has come down to us, a witness to what God can do when we give Him our all:

O blessed Jesus, I dedicate myself in health,
in illness, in my life, in my death,
in all my deeds, in all my desires,
so that I may never work henceforth except for Your glory,
for the salvation of souls and for that for which You have chosen me.
From this moment on, dearest Lord,
there is nothing I am not prepared to undertake for love of You.

 

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