Douceline of the Midi, St.

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Nun; b. Digne, France, c. 1214; d. Marseilles, France, Sept. 1, 1274. Known also as Donolina, Dulcelina, and Donzeline, she was the daughter of Berengier of Digne and Huguette of Barjols and came to live at Hyères after her mother's death (c. 1230). On the advice of her brother, hugh of digne, a Franciscan, she founded near Hyères a house of beguines, pious women, very often widows, who lived the ideal of St. francis but without constituting themselves as a religious order. They made a vow of perpetual chastity and vowed obedience for the period they would remain associated as Beguines, but they were not obliged to enclosure or to choir and they retained the disposition of their own possessions. About 1250, Douceline founded a second and larger house near Marseilles and then made a third foundation at Aix. She spent the last 20 years of her life in Marseilles, and it is reported that during that time she was often favored by ecstasies while praying in the Franciscan church, and she is supposed to have died during one of them in 1274. She was immediately venerated as a saint, especially at the church of the Major in Marseilles, where her body rests beside that of her brother in a tomb given by William de la Font in 1278. The Beguines of Crotte-Vieille, dispersed after the Council of Vienne, regrouped near the site of the present-day Lenche, but the house was suppressed by the beginning of the 15th century for lack of vocations, and its possessions went to the Franciscans in 1419.

Feast: Sept. 1.

Bibliography: La cronica de Salembene, Monumenta Germaniae Scriptores (Berlin 1825), 32:554. Chronica XXIV minorum generalium, Analecta Franciscana 3 (1902) 405406. j. h. albanÉs, La Vie de sainte Douceline, fondatrixe des béguines de Marseille; composée au xiiie siècle en langue provençale (Marseille 1879). a. consulter, Histoire Littéraire de la France (Paris 1865) 29:526546. h. mouchot, "Une extatique du XIIIème s.: Douceline de Digne," Revue Sextienne 1 (1880) 4565. a. macdonnell, St. Douceline (London 1905). g. mourey, Sainte Douceline, béguine de Provence (Paris 1922). a. sisto, Figure del primo francescanesimo in Provenza Ugo e Douceline di Digne (Florence 1971). r. aigrain, Catholicisme 3: 10491051. m. h. laurent, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (Paris 1912), 14:740741. b. de gaiffier, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique, ed. m. villers (Paris 1932), 3:167274.

[j. daoust]