The Roman Martyrology celebrates Colette on Feb. 6, but Franciscans and Capuchins remember her on Feb. 7. Let’s take a look into the life of this remarkable woman.
Colette was born to a carpenter and his wife. Orphaned at age 17, she was left in the care of a Benedictine abbot. Her guardian wanted her to marry, but Colette was drawn to religious life. She initially tried to join the Beguines and Benedictines, but failed in her vocation. So, at age of 21, she became an anchoress – walled into a cell whose only opening was a grilled window into a church.
During her confinement she had visions in which St. Francis of Assisi ordered her to restore the Rule of St. Clare to its original severity. When she hesitated, she was struck blind for three days and mute for three more; she saw this as a sign to take action. Finally, able to leave her cell, she was unable to carry through with her mission through her own efforts.
With hopes of getting help from someone in a position of authority, she walked to Nice, France, barefoot and clothed in a habit of patches, to meet Peter de Luna, acknowledged by the French as the schismatic Pope Benedict XIII. He professed her a Poor Clare, and was so impressed that he made her superioress of all convents of Minoresses that she might reform or found, and a missioner to Franciscan friars and tertiaries.
She traveled from convent to convent, meeting opposition, abuse, slander and was even accused of sorcery. Eventually, she made some progress, especially in Savoy, where her reform gained sympathizers and recruits. This reform passed to Burgundy in France, Flanders in Belgium and Spain. In addition, Colette helped St. Vincent Ferrer heal the papal schism. She founded seventeen convents; one branch of the Poor Clares is still known as the Colettines.
She was known for a deep devotion to Christ’s Passion with an appreciation and care for animals. Colette fasted every Friday, meditating on the Passion. After receiving Holy Communion, she would fall into ecstasies for hours. She foretold the date of her own death.
Colette was granted liturgical office by Pope Clement VIII in 1604, beatified in 1740 and canonized by Pope Pius VII in 1807. She is considered a patron against eye disorders, fever, headaches, infertility and death of parents. She is also patroness of: craftsmen, Poor Clares, servants, Corbie, France and Ghent, Belgium.
Adapted by A. J. Valentini from: St. Colette. (2020, May 23). CatholicSaints.Info. https://catholicsaints.info/saint-colette/