Saints of the Day – Bertila of Chelles

Pictorial Lives of the Saints: Saint Bertille, AbbessArticle

(also known as Bertilla)
Born in Soissons; died c.705. With the encouragement of Saint Oüen, Bertila convinced her parents to allow her to enter the convent at Jouarre, near Meaux, in Brie, France. There she was trained in sanctity at the school of Saint Columbanus and later was received as a professed nun by Saint Thelchildes. Bertila was convinced that she could never deserve to be the spouse of Jesus Christ, unless she endeavored to follow him in the path of humiliation and self-denial. By her perfect submission to all her sisters, she seemed everyone’s servant. Her whole conduct was a model of humility, obedience, regularity, and devotion.

She held the offices of infirmarian, headmistress of the convent school, and prioress. When Saint Bathildis, the English wife of Clovis II, restored the convent of Chelles, she asked the abbess to send to it her most experienced and virtuous sisters. Saint Bertila was made its first abbess and she governed it for half a century. Many placed themselves under her direction, including Queen Bathildis herself, when Clotaire reached his majority.

The Venerable Bede writes that many Anglo-Saxon girls, including Saint Hereswitha, wife of King Anna of the East Angles, sister of Saint Hilda, and mother of Saints, Sexburga, Withburga, and Ethelburga, were also attracted to Chelles under her governance. Thus, two holy queens vied with Bertila to outdo one another in submission, charity, and humility (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth, Walsh).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 August 2020. Web. 1 October 2020. <>