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Colette, St.


Foundress of Colettine Poor Clares; b. Nicolette Boylet (or Boellet) at Calcye, near corbie, Jan. 13, 1381;d. Ghent, March 6, 1447. Born in answer to her parents' prayer, she lived a life marked by the unusual. At age 21 she became a recluse, after three unsuccessful attempts at the religious life, and for several years lived in rigorous penance. During this time her mission to reform the poor clares was made clear to her. She sought permission from antipope benedict xiii, at Avignon, who received her into the Second Order of St. Francis, dispensed her from a novitiate, and appointed her abbess general. In 1408, with the help of Bl. Henry de la Baume, she began the work of restoring the primitive Rule of St. Clare

(1253), imposing absolute poverty and perpetual fast. Many existing convents of the Urbanist Clares were reformed and some 20 new ones established during her lifetime. In 1412 the Franciscan Conventuals in northern France and Belgium established a reformed branch called Coletans. Never numerous, they were suppressed in 1517. Iconography shows Colette as an abbess, barefooted, usually with a lamb at her feet. She was canonized in 1807.

Feast: March 6.

Bibliography: c. van corstanje et al., eds., Vita Sanctae Coletae (Leiden 1981). m. francis, Walled in Light (New York 1959, rep. Chicago 1985). e. lopez, Culture et sainteté: C. de Corbie (Saint-Etienne 1994). p. de vaux, Vie de soeur C., tr. e. lopez (Saint-Etienne 1994). m. richards, "Community and Poverty in the Reformed order of St. Clare in the Fifteenth Century" Journal of Religious History 19 (June 1995) 1025.

[m. f. laughlin]

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