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Saint Godelieve
Strangulation of Godelieve.jpg
The Strangulation of Godelina. Image in Procession Chapel in Gistel, Belgium.
Born c. 1049
Died 6 July 1070
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Canonized 1084 by Pope Urban II
Feast 6 July; 30 July
Attributes crown; well
Patronage the weather; invoked against throat trouble

Saint Godelieve (also known as Godeleva, Godeliève, Godelina) (Dutch: Sint-Godelieve) (c. 1049 – 6 July 1070) is a Flemish saint.


Tradition, as recorded in her Vita, states that she was pious as a young girl, and became much sought after by suitors as a beautiful young woman. Godelieve, however, wanted to become a nun. A nobleman named Bertolf (Berthold) of Gistel, however, determined to marry her, successfully invoked the help of her father's overlord, Eustace II, Count of Boulogne. Godelieve's mother-in-law soon forced the young bride to live in a narrow cell with little food to support her. Godelieve shared this food with the poor.

Bertolf also spread false rumors about her; the marriage was not consummated.

Godelieve managed to escape to the home of her father, Hemfrid, seigneur of Wierre-Effroy. Hemfrid, appealing to the Bishops of Tournai and Soissons and the Count of Flanders, managed to have Bertolf restore Godelieve to her rightful position as his wife.

Godelieve returned to Gistel and soon after, at the order of Bertolf, was strangled by two servants and thrown into a pool, to make it appear as if she had died a natural death.

After her death[edit]

Bertolf married again, and had a daughter Edith, who was born blind: the legend states that Edith was cured through the intercession of Saint Godelieve. Bertolf, now repentant of his crimes, went to Rome to obtain absolution. He went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and became a monk at St. Winnoc's Abbey at Bergues.

Edith founded a Benedictine monastery at Gistel, which was dedicated to Saint Godelieve, which she joined herself as a nun.

Drogo, a monk of St. Winnoc's Abbey, wrote Godelieve's biography, the Vita Godeliph, about ten years after her death.


Godelieve's body was exhumed in 1084 by the Bishops of Tournai and Noyon, in the presence of Gertrude of Saxony, the wife of Robert I, Count of Flanders, the Abbot of St. Winnoc's and a number of clergymen. Godelieve's popular cult developed thereafter.

Every year, on the Sunday following 5 July, a procession celebrating Saint Godelieve takes place in Gistel.

Godelieve's feast day, 6 July, was, like that of Saint Swithun in England and Saint Medard in France, connected with the weather.[1] She is thus considered one of the "weather saints."

The Godelieve Polyptych[edit]

Godelieve's life is represented in the Godelieve Polyptych, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.[2]


External links[edit]