January 30

St. Aldegunais

St. Aldegunais

Saint Aldegunais: The Enigmatic Patroness of a Bygone Era

When they lived:

Saint Aldegunais, also known as Saint Alda, lived during the early Middle Ages in the 7th and 8th centuries. Her exact birth and death dates remain shrouded in mystery, adding to the enigmatic aura surrounding her life.

Where they lived:

Saint Aldegunais resided in the region of Hainaut, which was part of the Frankish Empire, located in present-day Belgium and France. Her humble beginnings in this historically rich area provided the backdrop for her remarkable journey.

Notable world events during their life:

  1. The Rise of the Islamic Caliphate (632-750 CE): During Saint Aldegunais’ life, the Islamic Caliphate was in the midst of a significant expansion. The Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties brought sweeping political changes and cultural exchanges throughout the Mediterranean, reshaping the geopolitical landscape of the time.
  2. The Age of Viking Raids (Late 8th to 11th centuries): Saint Aldegunais lived during the era when Viking raiders from Scandinavia were at the height of their power. Their maritime raids and explorations extended across Europe, leaving a lasting impact on trade, politics, and the cultural exchange between regions.
  3. The Carolingian Renaissance (8th and 9th centuries): The reign of Charlemagne, the Carolingian ruler, marked a resurgence of learning and art across Europe. The Carolingian Renaissance saw the preservation and copying of classical texts, laying the groundwork for the revival of education and culture.
  4. The Great Schism of 1054: Though Saint Aldegunais predates the actual event, her life unfolded during a time of growing theological and political tensions between the Eastern and Western Christian churches. The eventual Great Schism in 1054 would lead to the permanent division between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
  5. Emergence of the First Universities: In Saint Aldegunais’ lifetime, the first universities began to take shape, notably the University of Al Quaraouiyine in Fez, Morocco (founded in 859) and the University of Bologna in Italy (founded in 1088). These institutions played a pivotal role in the advancement of education and knowledge in various disciplines.

Their patronage:

Saint Aldegunais is often venerated as the patroness of forgotten dreams and lost causes. Legend has it that she was a compassionate healer who tended to the sick and the destitute, giving hope to those who felt abandoned and lost in their struggles. As a symbol of resilience and determination, she is invoked by those seeking guidance during challenging times. Additionally, she is considered a protector of women, especially those facing difficult circumstances, offering solace and empowerment to those who look to her as a role model.

Early Life

There is not much detail concerning the life of Saint Aldegundis. She lived a rather short life but was instrumental in the early Catholic Church.

Saint Aldegundis, also stylized as Aldegonde or Adelgonde in some literary works, came from a family of saints.

She was born to Walbert and Bertilla de Mareuil, who would later be venerated by a Catholic church. She was also said to be a sister to Saint Waltrude or Waudru.

Saint Aldegundis was born circa 639 A.D. in Guînes, the County of Hainaut. Her father at that time was Count of Guînes, and she was said to be connected to the noble Merovingian family.

Saint Aldegundis grew up in the Low Countries, in the province of Hainaut, Flanders.

She was a very pretty woman who had chosen to be dedicated to God. She was a devout Christian and spent most of her time praying.

Saint Aldegundis was sought out by many men from noble families, but she turned each one of them away. She was encouraged to pick a suitor and start a family, but she made it known that she was consecrated to God.

Dedication and Devotion

She took a vow of consecration and sought a cloistered life. She has presented the veil, a sign of her virginity, and a vow to abstain from marriage and sex. The veil was bequeathed to her by Saint Amadiys, the Bishop of Maastricht.

It was said that she had lived in a convent in Mons.

History documents that Saint Aldegundis walked across the Sambre River to a desert called the Malbode. On its shore, she built a small hospital, which later became a nunnery.

She was the founder of the nunnery, which was later named the Maubeuge Abbey, a cloister for Benedictine nuns.

There, she taught her sisters how to live a life of piety. She spent most of her time praying, preaching, and helping the less privileged.

Throughout the final years of her life, she was plagued with the disease of cancer. This, however, did not deter her from her dedication to God.

Saint Aldegundis was also said to have seen visions during her time. She was widely fought for and respected by many.

Death and Canonization

Saint Aldegundis battled breast cancer in her final year. She died in 684 in her abbey, the Abbey of Maubeuge.

Saint Aldegundis died at the age of 44. She was buried at the Abbey of Maubeuge.

Soon after her death, she was succeeded by her niece and Waltrude’s daughter, Aldetrude. Her niece had also spent most of her spiritual life at the Abbey.

Her Abbey continued to grow even after her death. While it remained famous, it was soon taken possession of by canonesses.

She was canonized Pre-Congregation and is celebrated by the Catholic Church on the 30th of January.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Aldegunais

  1. Did you know that Saint Aldegundis is said to be the patron saint
    against cancer and wounds?
  2. Did you know that Saint Aldegundis was a companion of Saint Humbert
    of Pelagius?
  3. Did you know that Saint Aldegundis was said to have walked on the
    water from Sambre without getting her shoes wet?
  4. Did you know that Saint Aldegundis is also said to be the patron
    saint against childhood diseases, ulcers, pain, and sudden death?
  5. Did you know that Saint Aldegundis was taught spirituality by her?
    sister Waltrude?

Prayer to St. Aldegunais

The compassionate Lord, Saint Aldegundis, had a special concern for those suffering from cancer. I ask him to intercede for me, my family, and my friends so that we may remain free from cancer. If any of us are stuck with this disease, I ask him to pray for our healing. Lord Jesus, help us to feel the closeness of the Holy Spirit, who is the Comforter. Teach us to live in hope and faith, and protect us from fear and discouragement. Help us to experience the joy of uniting our sufferings with yours. And show us how to minister to others who’ve been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. Saint Aldegundis, pray for us. Amen.