“France was won for the faith, primarily because of Clotilda.” ~ Warren H. Carroll, The Building of Christendom
St. Clotilda, the spiritual mother and Queen of Royal France, was a Burgundian princess when she married Clovis, the King of the Franks in 493 AD. Though her father followed the heretical Arian “Christian” sect, her mother was a devoutly Catholic Burgundian who raised her daughter with a faithful Catholic heart.
“Of all the invading barbarian peoples, only the Burgundians had been marked by consistent fidelity to their promise of service to Rome. They had occupied east central Gaul and what is now western Switzerland, with their capitals at Lyons, Vienne, and Geneva. In 474 the senior of their three kings, Chilperic, received the title of General from one of the last shadow – emperors of the Roman West, and made it meaningful by fighting for Rome against the Visigoths during the last days of the Western Empire. Chilperic was an Arian; but his wife Caretena, whose praises were sung by two contemporary writers in Gaul, was a devout and orthodox Catholic. They had a daughter named Clotilda. Raised at Lyons by such a mother as Carotena, Clotilda would have learned early and well the glorious tale of the martyrs of that city in 177, especially the radiant Blandina; received the blessing of the great St. Avitus, Bishop of Vienne, when he came to court; and been inspired by the example of Lyons’ Bishop Patiens, famous for his charity.” ~ Warren H. Carroll, The Building of Christendom
What kind of a heart, then, did Caretena give to her young princess, for this is the very heart that St. Clotilda gives to us as the French Catholic Diaspora. Though tragically unseen in her lifetime, St. Clotilda imbued the Frankish people and the land of the Franks, what would become France and Germany centuries later, with the spirit of true Christianity in the fullness of the Catholic faith. It is this heart for which we must pray and which we must seek. It is St. Clotilda’s royal, orthodox, Catholic heart with which we must unite our own in order to fulfill our destiny in the French Catholic Diaspora with St. Mary Magdalene, Ste. Jehanne d’Arc, and Ste. Thérèse de Lisieux in the center of the Immaculate Heart of Mary where Jesus Christ reigns in all of His glory.
“All about Clotilda, as she grew from infancy to girlhood, the old world was crashing down; she, a barbarian princess, belonged to the new one, whatever it might be. Yet the faith that burned in her was the faith of Perpetua, of Cecilia, of Jerome’s Paula – all from the greatest families of Rome, who would have recognized Clotilda instantly as their sister in spirit.” ~ Warren H. Carroll, The Building of Christendom
This is the faith of the saints and the early Christian martyrs. We must understand our own royal hearts to be first and foremost hearts grounded in sanctifying grace through a dogmatic confession of Catholic faith. Royalty is not a mere earthly political construct. True royalty and a genuine royal heart is born of the Holy Spirit through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The royal heart seeks to fulfill Our Lord’s prayer handed down to us in Scripture that our Father’s will be done, His Kingdom come “on earth as it is in Heaven.” The royal hearts of the French Catholic Diaspora have an innate sense of the Social Kingship of Christ and Jesus Christ as King of Kings. The royal hearts of the French Catholic Diaspora have an innate sense of the mystical relationship between the Kingdom of France and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Heaven and earth. The royal hearts of the French Catholic Diaspora reverberate with Ste. Jehanne d’Arc’s mission to restore “true France” where Jesus Christ is King and the earthly Monarch is Christ’s lieutenant.
To fulfill the mission completely, the royal heart must suffer against all odds in a newly developing barbaric, vulgar, and blasphemous world, just as did Queen St. Clotilda. After her glorious years with newly baptized King Clovis, she would suffer a terrible dark night of the soul as her children betrayed her motherly instruction. While strictly enforcing orthodox Catholicism in letter, the immediate heirs to the Frankish throne cared little for the spirit. St. Clotilda lived out her remaining widowed years at the shrine of St. Martin in Tours, praying for her family, her people, and her country.
“It was Clotilda’s cross to witness the first thirty-four years of that degradation. That was the span of her widowhood, and most of it was the span of her suffering. As the wife of Clovis in his triumphant years, haloed with the radiance of his conversion and all it meant to the world, which she had done so much to bring about, she had known happiness, fulfillment, and glory such as few ever experience; now her suffering matched her time of joy in magnitude, and exceeded it in length. For her adopted people were still barbarians, culturally akin to that Theodoric who had hewn his Christian enemy in two in cold blood with his own hand; and so, as she had to learn in wrenching agony, were her three sons, now grown. Her careful instruction all through their childhood and early youth had gone for naught. They were faithless, brutal murders, hardly more Christian than they were civilized men.” ~ Warren H. Carroll, The Building of Christendom
Yet, St. Clotilda’s holiness in suffering would echo down the decades and centuries as a perpetual fount of inspiration. A later Frankish princess, Ingunthis, carried herself forward under this powerful influence.
“She had most certainly heard of Clotilda and what she had done some ninety years before; very likely Bishop Phronimius reminded her of that holy example, and that she now had the same opportunity as her sainted ancestor, and urged her to pray for Clotilda’s intercession and help.” ~ Warren H. Carroll, The Building of Christendom
Queen St. Clotilda’s heart, both in victory and agonizing defeat, must be our own, the royal heart of the French Catholic Diaspora. Ours is a heart that seeks the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the friendship and sisterly care of Ste. Jehanne and Ste. Thérèse with St. Clotilda’s maternal care. They are our spiritual ancestors.
The royal hearts of the French Catholic Diaspora were planted on the shores of Gaul in the Apostolic era by St. Mary Magdalene, germinated four centuries later by St. Clotilda, pruned by Ste. Jehanne d’Arc almost one thousand years after that, and nurtured like a field of flowers in our contemporary age by Ste. Thérèse de l’Enfant Jesus.
It is now our calling, our vocation, and our destiny to be stewards for, and beautify through suffering in union with Christ, that field of flowers known as the Virgin Mary’s Mystical Kingdom of Catholic France. This is the duty of the royal heart of the French Catholic Diaspora.
Queen St. Clotilda, as did Princess Ingunthis and many others centuries before us, we ask for your intercession and that you help us to persevere to the end as the royal hearts of the French Catholic Diaspora.