St. Isabel of France
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St. Isabel of France
1225 – 1270
Feast Day February 26th
Our saint this week could have been a countess, a queen, or even an empress. As it was, she was pretty close already. St. Isabel of France was Princess Elizabeth Isabel, daughter of Louis VIII. Her brother became St. Louis IX, king of France, so she was royalty in every sense of the word. She had courtiers and suitors from far and wide, with offers of marriage from even the son of the German Emperor. Everyone had high hopes for her marriage, even the pope, Innocent IV, who encouraged her to marry German.
Isabel had grander plans for her own soul, however. She looked up to the Franciscan order, and practiced the virtues of piety, modesty, charity, and the like on her own. She refused engagements and proposals, and though Pope Innocent IV thought she should marry, he praised her determination to remain a virgin. As Isabel founded a convent in the order of Saint Clare, everyone thought that she would of course become a nun and an abbess. But she did not found it for herself. Whether she sought greater humility or knew that power of any sort was a temptation for her, Isabel remained outside of the cloister she founded herself, practicing virtue and offering up mortifications for the souls in purgatory. She lived a quiet life, and died naturally.
Nine days after she was buried, her body was exhumed and was found to be incourrupt. That is, it showed no signs of decay! Remember, they didn’t have the embalming abilities we do now, and nine days in the dirt can cause the body to break down quite rapidly. Her body was as pristine as the day she died, and many reported miracles at her gravesite. She was declared a saint immediately.
Saint Isabel, your incourrupt body was a sign of your incourrupt soul in heaven. Pray that we too seek out closer union with the Lord, even if it means giving up what the rest of the world thinks is the best for us. Amen