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St. Bertha of France

Commemorated on July 4

St. Bertha was born in France in 644. She was the daughter of Count Rigobert, who served in the court of Clovis II, and Ursanna, daughter of the King of Kent.

At twenty years of age, Bertha married a cousin of the king, the noble Siegfried. They had four daughters, two of whom died in infancy while two others, Gertrude and Deotila, followed their mother’s path of monasticism.

Siegfried died in 672, and St. Bertha took the veil in a monastery which she had built at Blangy in the district of Artois. The monastery was consecrated in January, 682. Bertha’s daughters, Gertrude and Deotila, impressed by their mother’s act, soon followed.

Bertha was persecuted by Rotgar, a young lord of the court of King Thierry III, who was furious over her refusal to give him Gertrude in marriage. He slandered Bertha as being involved with the English royalty in a conspiracy. The King sent for Bertha to defend herself. However, upon witnessing her holiness, he took her under his protection, and the persecution was halted.

On her return to the monastery, Bertha had three churches built to honor Ss. Omer, Vaast, and Martin of Tours, and completed the construction of her convent. After establishing a prayer rule for her community, she named her daughter, Deotila, to replace her as abbess, and retired to a solitary cell to spend the remainder of her days in prayer.

At the age of 79, after the death of Deotila, she left her other daughter, Gertrude, as Abbess of the monastery of Blangy, and died peacefully on July 4, 723.

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