St. Isabel of France
- She was born a French Princess to Louis VII and Blanche of
Castile. Her father died when she only two years old resulting in her
mother being solely responsible for her education. She could read both
Latin and vernacular.
Marriage or Was It?
She was later betrothed to Hugh X of Lusignan and the marriage contractwas to be signed a few years later. This was by virtue of the treaty ofVendome hence she refused to celebrate the formal wedding as she wasdetermined to remain a virgin.
Her Faith and Works
As expected of her, she pursued the traditional feminine interests suchas embroidery but she also had interest in working in priestlyinvestments and requested spiritual direction from the Franciscans. Allthis resulted in her becoming more devoted to the Lord.
Even as a young girl she was known as being fervent in prayer andfasting. Her studying Latin enabled her to pray the liturgy of the hourswhich was in Latin.
Every day when she would eat her dinner, she would seat poor people ather table and serve them. She would visit the sick and the poor. Shealso experienced ecstasies at several points of her life including atime near the end of her life.
St Isabel had a great understanding of humility and seeking offorgiveness therefore every time before receiving communion herself, shewould get on her knees and beg for forgiveness of the few servants thatshe retained.
St Isabel refused to live a life of luxury and refused the lavish mealsthat were offered to her but instead she preferred meager rations andshe donated what she saved to the poor. However, she was often ill withstomach ailments that were worsening by her regular fasting.
In May 1254, she was allowed to retain some Franciscan friars as herspecial confessors and she was very devoted to them.
She is the founder of the nunnery of Longchamp which was established in1256 in west of Paris. In 1255 her brother King Louis began acquiringaccess to the necessary land after learning about his sister’s desire toform a community of sorores minors. The building was completed at thebeginning of the year 1259.
The monastery was named the Convent of the Humility of the BlessedVirgin and the nuns were known as Sisters of the Humble Order ofServants of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.
Even though she never became a nun herself, Saint Isabelle she lived atthe convent in a separate room from the nuns and she observed theirrules in her own home.
She kept a discipline of silence for most of her days and she retainedher wealth because she was not a nun. This allowed her to continuesupporting the poor and carrying out her duties as the superior of thenuns.
During the French Revolution, Longchamp Abbey was suppressed and thebuilding was up for sale in 1794 but no one was interested. Thisresulted in the empty building being demolished and in 1857 theremaining walls were pulled down except for a single tower.
St Isabelle died at Longchamp on 23 February 1270 and was buried in theAbbey church, however, her body was exhumed nine days after her burialand apparently it showed no signs of decay. When she died she was only45 years old. Pope Leo X beatified her in 1521.
Saint Isabelle is known as the Patroness of the sick. Her feast day is26 February and she was declared a saint by Pope Innocent XII in 1696.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Isabel of France
- She was a younger sister to St Louis of France.
- St Isabelle consecrated her virginity and entire life to God
- She enjoyed tales of chivalry as well as devotional texts.
- Once, the Pope wrote to her directly to encourage her to marry the
king of Jerusalem for the good of Christendom, but her refusal to him
was so humble and wise that he acknowledged her desire to dedicate her
life to God alone.
- Even though she consecrated her virginity, she never actually
became a nun.
Prayer to St. Isabel of France
Dear Lord, we thank You for giving us St. Isabel of France as an exampleof holiness. Help us to imitate the virtue she showed in her life fromthe time she was a young girl.St. Isabel of France, you were known to be pious and virtuous by othersat court during your childhood. Though you were surrounded by theworldly concerns of courtly life, you were eager to dedicate your lifeto God.Please bring my petitions before God Whom you served so eagerly!You grew in devotion and piety as you got older. You longed to devoteyourself entirely to God as a consecrated virgin.Pray for me, that I may grow in virtue each day of my life. Pray that Imay be as eager to devote myself to God as you were.Please also pray for (mention your intentions here).St. Isabel of France, pray for us!In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.Amen.