St Godelieve healing oil
The St Godelieve healing oil is dedicated to the Flemish nun. Flemish saint.
Godelieve 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 of Gistel, however, determined to marry her. He successfully invoked the help of her father’s overlord, Eustace II, Count of Boulogne. Berthold’s servants were ordered to provide only bread and water to the young bride. Godelieve shared this food with the poor.
Godelieve managed to escape to the home of her father, Hemfrid, seigneur of Wierre-Effroy. Hemfrid, managed to have Bertolf restore Godelieve to her rightful position as his wife.
Martyrdom of Godelieve
In July 1070, Godelieve returned to Gistel. Soon after, at the order of Bertolf, she was strangled by two servants. Then she was thrown into a pool, to make it appear as if she had died a natural death.
According to legend, Bertolf married again. He had a daughter Edith, who was born blind. The legend states that Edith was cured through the intercession of Saint Godelieve. Consequently, Bertolf, now repentant of his crimes, went to Rome to obtain absolution. He went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Also, he became a monk at St. Winnoc’s Abbey at Bergues. Edith founded a Benedictine monastery at Gistel, which was dedicated to Saint Godelieve. Also, she joined herself as a nun.
Godelieve cult grows
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. Also, the Abbot of St. Winnoc’s and a number of clergymen were there. It was Radbod II, bishop of Noyon-Tournai, that consecrated Godelieve’s relics in 1084, and Godelieve’s popular cult developed thereafter.
Drogo, a monk of St. Winnoc’s Abbey, wrote Godelieve’s biography, the Vita Godeliph, about ten years after her death. Also, the abbey of Ten Putte Abbey in Bruges was dedicated to her. And the name of the first Abbess was Agatha.
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. Consequently, she is thus considered one of the “weather saints.”