6 March (Roman Martyrology)
7 February (Franciscans, Capuchins)
Nicollete Boilet was born at Corbie, Picardy, in France and was named in honor of St. Nicholas of Myra. Her loving parents, who were almost sixty years old when she was born, nicknamed her Colette from the time she was a baby.
Colette's father was a carpenter at an abbey in Picardy. Quiet and hard-working, Colette was a big help to her mother with the housework. Her parents noticed how their daughter liked to pray and her sensitive, loving nature.
When Colette was seventeen, both her parents died and the young woman was placed under the care of the abbot at the monastery where her father had worked. She asked for and received a hut built next to the abbey church, where she lived.
She spent her time praying and sacrificing for Jesus' Church. More and more people found out about this holy young woman. They went to see her and asked her advice about important problems. They knew that she was wise because she lived close to God. She received everybody with gentle kindness. After each visit, she would pray that her visitors would find peace of soul.
|Habit of Saint Colette Ghent, |
Colette was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis called the Secular Franciscan Order. She knew that the religious order of women who followed St. Francis' lifestyle are the Poor Clares. They are named after St. Clare, who as a follower of St. Francis started the order. During Colette's time, the Poor Clares strayed from their mission and needed to go back to the original purpose of their order.
St. Francis of Assisi appeared to Colette and asked her to make the necessary changes. She was surprised and afraid of such a difficult task. When she hesitated, she was struck blind for three days and mute for three more; she saw this as a sign, and trusting in God's grace traveled to the Poor Clare convents. As an example, she walked barefoot to Nice, dressed in a habit (gown worn by nuns) that was all patched up. She helped the nuns become more poor and prayerful.
The Poor Clares were inspired by St. Colette's life. She had a great devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist. She also spent time frequently fasting and meditating on the passion and death of Jesus. She loved Jesus and her religious life very much.
Her prayer was, "We must faithfully keep what we have promised. If through human weakness we fail, we must always without delay arise again by means of holy penance, and give our attention to leading a good life and to dying a holy death. May the Father of all mercy, the Son by his holy passion, and the Holy Spirit, source of peace, sweetness and love, fill us with their consolation. Amen."
She was very fond of animals and took good care of them. Colette knew exactly when and where she was going to die. She died in one of her convents in Ghent, Flanders, in 1447 at the age of sixty-seven.
Remains of Saint Colette Ghent, Belgium