She was born Nicolette DeBoilet at Corby Abbey in Picardy, France, on January 13, 1381, but was called Colette. Her mother’s name was Marguerite and her father, Robert, was the carpenter at the famous Benedictine Abbey of Corby.
At the age of seventeen Colette was orphaned. After distributing her inheritance among the poor, Colette became a Franciscan tertiary (a member of a secular third order). For a while she lived as a recluse. She became known for her holiness and spiritual wisdom. In 1406 she ended her seclusion after having a dream that she felt was directing her to reform the Poor Clares. Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna), who at that time was recognized as the Pope in France, allowed Colette to enter the order of the Poor Clares. He also gave her permission to found new convents and complete the reform of the order. By the end of her life, Colette had founded seventeen convents with the reform rule and had reformed many other older convents. One branch of the Poor Clares is still known as the Colettines.
Colette was well-known not only for her sanctity, but also for her great intellect. She had much influence over others, who respected her for her great austerity. She was blessed with many gifts, including visions, ecstasies, and prophesy. She even prophesied her own death, which took place in her convent in Ghent, Belgium, on March 6, 1447. She was canonized in 1807.
Colette prescribed for her convents extreme poverty, including going without shoes, and regular observances of fasting and abstinence. Colettine Sisters are found today in Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, and the United States.
Pray for us, dear Saint Colette, that we may learn the great benefits of sacrifice, especially through fasting, abstinence, and acts of penitence during this holy season of Lent. In Christ’s Name we pray. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
Sts. Filicitas and Perpetua (203), Martyrs, Partonesses of Widows, Death of Children
St. Fridolin (650), Priest, Founder