On this day: St. Eusebia, Abbess

On this day, we commemorate St. Eusebia, who was born c. 637, and who died c. 680.

Eusebia was a member of a Merovingian family of saints. Her great-grandmother, St. Gertrude, Abbess of Hamay, was the daughter of King Theudebald, King of Austrasia.

Eusebia's parents were St. Adalbald, Count of Douai, and St. Rictrude, a Gascon heiress who, after her brothers murdered her husband, became Abbess of Marchiennes.

Eusebia's brother was St. Maurontius, and her sisters were St. Clotsendis and St. Adalasenda.

Her aunt was St. Bertha, and her cousins were St. Gertrude and St. Deotila.

Eusebia's godmother was Queen Nantilda, a consort of Dagobert I, King of the Franks, whose tomb is at the Basilica of Saint Denis. Nantilda gave her goddaughter "the fine estate of Verny, in the neighbourhood of Soissons".

Eusebia was eight when her father was murdered by Rictrude's brothers. She and her sisters went with Rictrude to the double monastery of Marchiennes, but Abbess Gertrude asked Abbess Rictrude to give Eusebia to her. She adopted the child and made her heiress of her monastery of Hamay.

Gertrude died, and Eusebia, aged 12, became Abbess.

"Her mother, however, thought she was too young to be her own mistress, or to rule over others. She therefore ordered her to come to Marchiennes, but the young abbess refused to obey, and Rictrude was obliged to procure a letter de cachet from Clovis II. to compel her daughter to come. She brought with her all her nuns, the body of her great-grandmother, and the other relics belonging to her church. She was so fond of her own convent that she often went there at night, accompanied only by a confidential attendant, sang the office in her own church, and returned to Marchiennes in the morning. Rictrude, hearing of it, remonstrated in vain, and finding it impossible to reduce her daughter to submission, had her whipped with such brutality by her brother, St. Maurontius, as to endanger her life. She was held in the arms of young man wearing a sword, the hilt of which so hurt her side that she spat blood ever after. Although she lived many years afterwards, her wounds could never be entirely healed, so that she was kept in perpetual remembrance of her disobedience and humiliation."

--from A Dictionary of Saintly Women, by Agnes B. C. Dunbar, George Bell & Sons, London, 1904.

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