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 another woman.
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 woman earned the
love of her people and was a pioneer in the abolition of
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
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!
Feast: Jan. 30