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Saint Godelieve (also known as Godeleva, Godeliève, Godelina) (Dutch: Sint-Godelieve) (c. 1052[3] – 6 July 1070) is a Flemish saint.[4]

Saint Godelieve
Strangulation of Godelieve.jpg
The Strangulation of Godelina. Image in Procession Chapel in Gistel, Belgium.
Bornc. 1049
Died6 July 1070
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Canonized1084 by Pope Urban II
Feast6 July; 30 July
Attributescrown; well [1]
Patronagethe weather
invoked against throat trouble
peaceful marriage[2]


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.[4] Berthold's servants were ordered to provide only bread and water to the young bride.[3] Godelieve shared this food with the poor.[5]

Godelieve managed to escape to the home of her father, Hemfrid, seigneur of Wierre-Effroy.[4] 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.

In July 1070, Godelieve returned to Gistel and soon after, at the order of Bertolf, was strangled by two servants and thrown into a pool,[a][3] to make it appear as if she had died a natural death.


According to legend, 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.[6] 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.[6] Edith founded a Benedictine monastery at Gistel, which was dedicated to Saint Godelieve, which she joined herself as a nun.[6]


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. It was Radbod II, bishop of Noyon-Tournai, that consecrated Godelieve's relics in 1084,[7] and Godelieve's popular cult developed thereafter.[8]

Drogo, a monk of St. Winnoc's Abbey, wrote Godelieve's biography, the Vita Godeliph, about ten years after her death.[9] The abbey of Ten Putte Abbey in Bruges was dedicated to her,[2] and the name of the first Abbess was Agatha.[6]

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.[10] She is thus considered one of the "weather saints."

The Godelieve PolyptychEdit

Godelieve's life is represented in the Godelieve Polyptych, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.[11]


  1. ^ Kienzle and Nienhuis state she was placed in her bed[3]


  1. ^ Stracke, Richard (20 October 2015). "Saint Godelieve: The Iconography". Christian Iconography.
  2. ^ a b de Vries 2007, p. 44.
  3. ^ a b c d Kienzle & Nienhuis 2001, p. 45.
  4. ^ a b c Harper-Bill 1999, p. 157.
  5. ^ Kienzle & Nienhuis 2001, p. 50.
  6. ^ a b c d Mulder-Bakker 2002, p. 69.
  7. ^ Kienzle & Nienhuis 2001, p. 46.
  8. ^ Kienzle & Nienhuis 2001, p. 45-46.
  9. ^ Head 2001, p. 359.
  10. ^ "Liturgical Year : Activities : Weather Saints".
  11. ^


  • de Vries, Andre (2007). Flanders: A Cultural History. Oxford University Press.
  • Harper-Bill, Christopher (1999). Anglo-Norman Studies XXI: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1998. The Boydell Press.
  • Head, Thomas F., ed. (2001). Medieval Hagiography: An Anthology. Routledge.
  • Kienzle, Beverly Mayne; Nienhuis, Nancy (2001). "Battered Women and the Construction of Sanctity". Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. Vol. 17, No. 1 Spring.
  • Mulder-Bakker, Anneke B., ed. (2002). The Invention of Saintliness. Routledge.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Saint Godelina at Wikimedia Commons