St. Clotilda, Queen of the Franks (+548)
Commemorated June 3rd
St. Clotilda was the daughter of Burgundian King Chilperic. Her father was a Christian and followed the teachings of the One True Faith. However, his brother, Gondebaud, was an Arian. Gondebaud killed Clotilda’s father, mother and brothers for their beliefs and to seize the crown from them. Infatuated by her beauty, Gondebaud took Clotilda to his castle, but kept her as a second-class princess – half-free, half-prisoner.
Clovis was the King of the Franks and a neighbor of the Burgundians. He realized that Clotilda’s father still had many supporters. Clovis planned to further divide the Burgundian kingdom to make it easier to be conquered. Toward this end, he asked Clotilda to marry him. It is not known why Gondebaud permitted this union.
However, before they married, Clotilda received from Clovis his promise to respect her faith. Upon her marriage, she became the queen of a barbarian and pagan nation. She continued to practice her faith, with Clovis being influenced by her example.
In 496, on the point of losing a battle against Gondebaud and his Burgundian army, Clovis made a promise to “the God of Clotilda.” He prayed that if God would help him win the battle, he would convert to Christianity. The battle was eventually won, and Clovis was baptized on December 24, 496 by St. Remigius, the Bishop of Rheims. On that same day, the chiefs of the Frankish people also converted to Christianity.
At the moment of his Baptism, a dove came from Heaven carrying in its beak an ampulla with sacred oil that St. Remigius used to consecrate Clovis as the first King of France. Thenceforth, the same oil was used to consecrate all the Kings of France in their coronation ceremonies. This tradition was maintained until the coronation of King Louis XVI. During the French Revolution, the ampulla with the oil disappeared.
It is St. Clotilda whose example and prayers converted Clovis and the Franks to Christianity. She entered into the Heavenly Kingdom on June 3, 548, and is buried in Tours, France.