Batilda. Other forms of her name are Bathilidis, Bathild,
Bathchilde, and Bauteur.
by birth, St. Batilda was captured in 641 by Danish raiders
and sold to Erchinoald, the chief officer of the palace of
Clovis II, King of the Franks. She quickly gained favour,
for she had charm, beauty, and a graceful and gentle nature.
She also won the affection of her fellow-servants, for she
would do them many kindnesses such as cleaning their shoes
and mending their clothes, and her bright and attractive
disposition endeared her to them all.
The officer, impressed by her fine qualities, wished to make
her his wife, but Batilda, alarmed at the prospect, both by
reason of her modesty and of her humble status, disguised
herself in old and ragged clothes, and hid herself away
among the lower servants of the palace; and he, not finding
her in her usual place, and thinking she had fled, married
Her next suitor, however, was none other than the king
himself, for when she had discarded her old clothes and
appeared again in her place, he noticed her grace and beauty,
and declared his love for her. Thus in 649, the 19-year-old
slave girl Batilda became Queen of France, amidst the
applause of the court and the kingdom. She bore Clovis three
sons: Clotaire III, Childeric II, and Theodoric III--all of
whom became kings. On the death of Clovis (c. 655-657), she
was appointed regent in the name of her eldest son, who was
only five, and ruled capably for eight years with Saint
Eligius (f.d. December 1) as her advisor.
She made a good queen and ruled wisely. Unlike many who rise
suddenly to high place and fortune, she never forgot that
she had been a slave, and did all within her power to
relieve those in captivity. We are told that "Queen Batilda
was the holiest and most devout of women; her pious
munificence knew no bounds; remembering her own bondage, she
set apart vast sums for the redemption of captives." She
helped promote Christianity by seconding the zeal of Saint
Owen (f.d. August 24), Saint Leodegar (f.d. October 2), and
many other bishops.
At that time the poorer inhabitants of France were often
obliged to sell their children as slaves to meet the
crushing taxes imposed upon them. Batilda reduced this
taxation, forbade the purchase of Christian slaves and the
sale of French subjects, and declared that any slave who set
foot in France would from that moment be free. Thus, this
enlightened women earned the love of her people and was a
pioneer in the abolition of slavery.
She also founded many abbeys, such as Corbie, Saint-Denis,
and Chelles, which became civilised settlements in wild and
remote areas inhabited only by prowling wolves and other
wild beasts. Under her guidance forests and waste land were
reclaimed, cornland and pasture took their place, and
agriculture flourished. She built hospitals and sold her
jewellery to supply the needy. Finally, when Clotaire came
of age, she retired to her own royal abbey of Chelles, near
Paris, where she served the other nuns with humility and
obeyed the abbess like the least of the sisters.
She died at Chelles before she had reached her 50th birthday.
Death touched her with a gentle hand; as she died, she said
she saw a ladder reaching from the altar to heaven, and up
this she climbed in the company of angels.
She is the patroness of children. Holy Mother Batilda, pray
to God for us!