Bertilla lived in the seventh century. The first biography of her life appeared in Latin in the year 800. She was born in Soissons, France. While a teenager, she felt the call to grow closer to God. She began to realize that the life of prayer and sacrifice that she wanted could be found in a monastery. She went to her bishop, St. Ouen, and asked his advice. He encouraged her to follow her calling. Her parents sent her to a monastery of nuns who followed the rule of an Irish monk, St. Columban. When she arrived, she knew that she had found peace. Years passed. Bertilla spent her time praying and doing different tasks. She was especially good at offering hospitality to travelers and the sick who came to the monastery. She also cared for the children who were being educated at the monastery.
St. Bathildis, the wife of King Clovis II, started a new monastery. She asked the abbess at Soissons to send some nuns to begin the community. Bertilla was among those chosen and she was appointed the abbess. She was very surprised, but decided to do the best she could. She knew that the Lord would help her in every way. The community of nuns grew. Queen Bathildis herself became a nun after her husband died. Then, another queen, Hereswitha, widow of the king of the East Angles, became a nun, too. Abbess Bertilla must have been amazed to have two queens in her community. But everyone lived in peace because the queens were as humble as the abbess.
Bertilla lived a long life and ruled the monastery of Chelles for forty-six years. She died around the year 705.
Let us pray today for a heart open and ready to follow wherever the Spirit may lead us.