Colette was the daughter of a carpenter named DeBoilet at Corby Abbey in Picardy, France. She was born on January 13, christened Nicolette, and called Colette. Her parents were almost 60 when she was born and she was orphaned at seventeen. She defied her guardian’s desire that she marry and she distributed her inheritance to the poor.
She subsequently became a Franciscan tertiary and lived at Corby as a solitary in a room that was sealed to the outside world except to receive food and the Eucharist. She soon became well known for her holiness and spiritual wisdom, but left her cell in 1406 in response to a dream of St Francis of Asissi directing her to reform the Poor Clares. She received the Poor Clares habit from Peter de Luna, whom the French recognized as Pope under the name of Benedict XIII, with orders to reform the Order and appointing her Superior of all convents she reformed.
Despite great opposition which included physical assaults, she persisted in her efforts. She founded seventeen convents with the reformed rule and reformed several older convents. She was renowned for her sanctity, ecstacies, and visions of the Passion, and prophesied her own death in her convent at Ghent, Belgium. A branch of the Poor Clares is still known as the Collettines. She was canonized in 1807. Her feast day is March
Saint Colette (13 January 1381 – 6 March 1447), born Nicolette Boellet (or Boylet), was a French abbess and the foundress of the Colettine Poor Clares, a reform branch of the Order of Saint Clare, better known as the Poor Clares. Due to a number of miraculous events which occurred during her life, she is venerated as the patron saint of women seeking to conceive, expectant mothers and sick children.
While traveling to Nice to meet the Pope, Colette stayed at the home of a friend. His wife was in labor at that time with their third child, and was having major difficulties in the childbirth, leaving her in danger of death. Colette immediately went to the local church to pray for her.
The mother gave birth successfully, and survived the ordeal. She credited Colette’s prayers for this. The child born, a girl named Pierinne, later entered a monastery founded by Colette. She would become Colette’s secretary and biographer.
Saving a sick child
After the Pope had authorized Colette to establish a regimen of strict poverty in the Poor Clare monasteries of France, she started with that of Besançon. The local populace was suspicious of her reform, with its total reliance on them for the sustenance of the monastery. One incident helped turn this around.
A local peasant woman gave birth to a stillborn child. In desperation, out of fear for the child’s soul, the father took the baby to the local parish priest for baptism. Seeing that the child was already dead, the priest refused to baptize the body. When the man became insistent, out of frustration, the priest told him to go to the nuns, which he did immediately.
When he arrived at the monastery, Mother Colette was made aware of his situation by the portress. Her response was to take off the veil given to her by the Pope, when he gave her the habit of the Second Order, and told the portress to have the father wrap the child’s body in it and for him to return to the priest. By the time he arrived at the parish church with his small bundle, the child was conscious and crying. The priest immediately baptized the baby.