Saint of the Day – 27 October – Saint Emeline of Boulancourt (c 1115- c 1178) Virgin, Lay Sister, Hermitess, living according to Cistercian rule, Penitent, Prophetess – born as Emeline d’Yèvres in c 1115 in the Diocese of Troyes, France and died in c 1178 at Longeville, France of natural causes. Patronage – single lay women.
Born in the 12th century in France, Emeline was a devout soul who deeply desired to do God’s will. She was led to the male Cistercian Abbey of Boulancourt at Longeville, France, where she established herself, with the Monks approval in a barn of Perte-Sèche which belonged to the Abbey.
There, Emeline led a solitary life a few kilometres from the Abbey and followed the Cistercian rule as much as she could, including sharing in the hours of labour. The rest of her days were given to the Lord in prayer and meditation, enhanced by fasting, she fasted totally three days of the week, wore the hair shirt and engaged in other forms of mortification, for example, Emeline went barefoot in both summer and winter.
Emeline’s prophetic gifts soon attracted the attention of many who came to find her to consult with her for spiritual guidance, for her reputation for holiness was great.
She was known to predict with accuracy, future events but was most concerned with the visitor’s relationship with God. Humility marked her interaction with everyone and she never used her heavenly gifts for selfish gain.
Emeline died in c 1178 and was buried under the altar of the Couvent des Dames, attached to the Abbey of Boulancourt where a perpetual flame was maintained at her tomb. Then, when the chapel was destroyed, her remains were transferred, along with those of Sainte Asceline and Saint Gossuin, to the Church of Boulancourt. Sadly, nothing remains of these tombs today after the violent excesses of the French Revolution.
Since she neither married nor professed vows with any religious community, St Emeline is known as the patron saint of single lay women.
who called Your handmaid blessed Emeline,
to seek You before all else,
grant that, serving You,
through her example and intercession,
with a pure and humble heart,
we may come at last to Your eternal glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Note 1: The first Cistercian Monastery for women, Le Tart Abbey, was established at Tart-l’Abbaye in the Diocese of Langres (now Dijon), in the year 1125, by nuns from the Benedictine Monastery of Juilly and with the co-operation of Saint Stephen Harding, Abbot of Cîteaux.
At Juilly, a dependence of Molesme Abbey, Humbeline, the Saint Bernard of Clairvaux’ sister, lived and died.
The sisters became known as the Trappistines.
Note 2: Today we have “extern sisters” who are members of the Monastic family. They make perpetual rather than solemn profession. Theirs is a vocation within a vocation. They are contemplatives but they are called to serve the monastic community, so that the contemplative life and the observance of enclosure, can be better lived by the nuns. Externs serve the community and act as liaisons of the community to those outside.