St. Clotisindis of Flanders (also called Glodesind and Clotsend) is about as obscure a saint as you can get, but her family was one of the most remarkable families of early medieval France, notable for the unusual number of saints it boasted. The grandmother of St. Clotisindis was St. Gertrude the Elder, abbess of Hamay Abbey. Clotisindis herself was born around 635 into a saintly family close to the Merovingian court. Her father was St. Adalbald, a Frankish nobleman, and her mother St. Rictrudis. The couple spent sixteen happy years together, during which time they served the poor and raised five saintly children. The times were turbulent, however, and St. Adalbald was assassinated. Clotisindis' mother, St. Rictrudis, became a Benedictine abbess upon the death of her father (despite the fact that Clovis II ordered her to wed again) and was renowned for her sanctity. Clotisindis also had a sainted brother, Mauron, also called St. Maurontius, who was baptized by St. Riquier, educated by St. Balthildis at the court of Clovis II, and succeeded to the estates of their father St. Adalbald.
The family abbey was Marchiennes, which had been founded by St. Rictrudis. Marchiennes was a double-monastery, containing both monks and nuns in separate wings of the monastery. Such double-monasteries were common in the early middle ages but were eventually phased out around the 11th century; Marchiennes became a men-only monastery in 1024. St. Mauron became abbot of the monks of Marchiennes, and his sister, St. Clotisindis, became abbess of the nuns in 688. This was a difficult task in Merovingian France, for abbeys were intimately connected with the political intrigues of the court and frequently served as prisons of sorts for disgraced members of the royal house. Nevertheless, Clotisindis persevered in her vocation and won a reputation for sanctity, even as her mother and grandmother had. She served as abbess until 714 when she died in the odor of sanctity, having been preceded by her brother St. Mauron thirteen years earlier. Two sister of Clotisindis, Adalsinde and Eusebia, are also saints.
The Abbey of Marchiennes survived throughout the entire medieval period and a burgeoning town of same name grew up around it. The monastery was finally closed 1791 by the Revolutionaries and demolished during the Naploleonic period. Only the gatehouse built in 1748 (pictured above) remains.
The family of Gertrude, Adalbald, Rictrudis, Clotisindis and her kin stands out as an example of exceptional holiness and a model for how families can attain sanctity in tumultuous times. St. Clotisindis, pray for us! The Feast of St. Clotisindis is celebrated on June 30th. For more on the Feast Days of the rest of her kin, please visit this link.
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