(DIMINUTIVE OF NICOLETTA, COLETTA).
|Founder of Colettine
Poor Clares (Clarisses), born 13 January 1381, at Corbie in Picardy, France;
died at Ghent, 6 March, 1447. Her father, Robert Boellet, was the carpenter of
the famous Benedictine Abbey of Corbie; her mother's name was Marguerite Moyon.
Colette joined successively the Bequines, the Benedictines, and the Urbanist
Poor Clares. Later she lived for a while as a recluse. Having resolved to reform
the Poor Clares, she turned to the antipope, Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna), then
recognized by France as the rightful pope. Benedict allowed her to enter to the
order of Poor Clares and empowered her by several Bulls, dated 1406, 1407, 1408,
and 1412 to found new convents and complete the reform of the order. With the
approval of the Countess of Geneva and the Franciscan Henri de la Beaume, her
confessor and spiritual guide, Colette began her work at Beaume, in the Diocese
of Geneva. She remained there but a short time and soon opened at Besancon her
first convent in an almost abandoned house of Urbanist Poor Clares. Thence her
reform spread to Auxonne (1410), to Poligny, to Ghent (1412), to Heidelberg
(1444), to Amiens, etc. To the seventeen convents founded during her lifetime
must be added another begun by her at Pont-a-Mousson in Lorraine. She also
inaugurated a reform among the Franciscan friars (the Coletani), not to be
confounded with the Observants. These Coletani remained obedient to the
authority of the provincial of the Franciscan convents, and never attained much
importance even in France. In 1448 they had only thirteen convents, and together
with other small branches of the Franciscan Order were suppressed in 1417 by Leo
X. In addition to the strict rules of the Poor Clares, the Colettines follow
their special constitutions sanctioned in 1434 by the General of the
Franciscans, William of Casale, approved in 1448 by Nicholas V, in 1458 by Pius
II, and in 1482 by Sixtus IV.
St. Colette was beatified 23 January, 1740, and canonized 24 May, 1807. She was not only a woman of sincere piety, but also intelligent and energetic, and exercised a remarkable moral power over all her associates. She was very austere and mortified in her life, for which God rewarded her by supernatural favours and the gift of miracles. For the convents reformed by her she prescribed extreme poverty, to go barefooted, and the observance of perpetual fast and abstinence. The Colettine Sisters are found today, outside of France, in Belgium, Germany, Spain, England, and the United States.
From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc. Electronic version copyright © 1996 by New Advent, Inc.
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