Bathildis was born in Britian in the seventh century. She was a slave to the wife of Erchinoald, who was mayor of the palace of Neustria. Erchinoald was very impressed with Bathildis. She was not only beautiful and intelligent, but also very virtuous.
When the wife of Erchinoald died, he showed great interest in marrying Bathildis, but since she had no interest in marrying him, she left until he remarried someone else. After Bathildis had returned to the mayor’s service, she met King Clovis II of France who came to visit the mayor. Clovis, like Erchinoald was very taken with Bathildis’s beauty and grace and all the good things he had heard about her. In 649, Clovis freed Bathildis and took her as his wife.
Her new station in life did not change Bathildis, but did give her greater opportunities to be generous to the poor. Only seven years into their marriage, Clovis died, leaving Bathildis with three children. Their five-year-old son, Clothaire, was proclaimed king under the regency of Bathildis, his mother. With the aid of others to counsel her, Bathildis was able to carry out some reforms, one being the abolition of Christian slaves. She also repressed simony among the clergy and was soon founding religious institutions such as hospitals and monasteries. The abbeys of Corbey and Chelles were two such institutions that were founded due to her generosity.
Bathildis became the first abbess of Chelles. She wanted very much to enter into the religious life; however, as queen she was bound to her duties at court. Later in her life, however, when her sons were ruling in Austrasia and Thierry in Burgundy, she did carry out her desire and withdrew to the Abbey of Chelles. Bathildis renounced her royalty and asked to be treated as a lowly inmate among the others in the abbey. After 15 years in Chelles, mainly spent in prayer and serving others, Bathildis died on January 30, 680.
Bathilde is buried in the Abbey of Chelles. She was canonized by Pope Nicholas I.
St. Bathilde, your life on earth was much like a Cinderella story. But while so many who experience “overnight” success by the standards of the world become arrogant and prideful, you show us the importance of humility and prayer and demonstrate that true success is becoming a saint by living for God and others and not for ourselves. Please pray for us, St. Bathilde, that we may never forget this. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Martina (228), Virgin, Martyr
St. Francis Bianchi (1815): Born in Arpino, Italy, in 1743. He joined the Congregation of the Barnabites, his teachers. After his ordination he taught at the University of Naples; then he zealously ministered to the people by preaching and through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, works of mercy and spiritual direction of the clergy, religious and laity. Because of his apostolic zeal he was called another “Philip Neri” and “Apostle of Naples.” He was gifted with outstanding charismatic gifts: he predicted Napoleon’s defeat in Russia and the return of Pope Pius VII to Rome; he stopped the flow of lava when Vesuvius erupted; for years he endured “fire and thorns” in his legs. Tirelessly he ministered with fatherly care to the penitents lining up at his door. He died in Naples on January 31, 1815. His memorial is on January 30, not to interfere with the one of St. John Bosco.