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Christine of Stommeln, Blessed

Beguine (1242-1312)

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Christine of Stommeln, BLESSED, b. at Stommeln near Cologne, in 1242; d. November 6, 1312. Stommeln, called in the fourteenth century Stumbeln, is situated about nine miles northwest of Cologne and about six miles west of the Rhine. Christine’s father was a well-to-do peasant named Heinrich Bruso; the name of her mother was Hilla. When five years old Christine had visions of the Christ Child to whom she was mystically married in her tenth year. When eleven years old she learned to read the Psalter, but could not write. When twelve her parents wished to give her in marriage, but she went to the convent of the Beguines at Cologne, where she led a life of severe penance, spent much time in prayer, and often fell into convulsions. In her fifteenth year she received the stigmata on her hands and feet and the marks of the Crown of Thorns on the head. She suffered many assaults of the devil, had many trials of her faith, and was tempted to suicide. The Beguines thought her crazy and treated her with contempt, so she went back home. As early as 1267 the parish priest, Johannes, took Christine into his house, where she made the acquaintance of Peter of Dacia, a Dominican from Gotland who was at Cologne as a pupil of St. Albert the Great. A mystical bond of devotion, the object of which was God, was formed between the two. Peter visited Christine in 1270 on his way back from Paris to Gotland, and again in 1279; in his account of her he mentions altogether fifteen visits. Christine’s brother followed Peter to Gotland and entered the Dominican Order. Peter became lector and in 1283 was prior in Gotland, where he died in 1288. In this same year the torments which Christine suffered through the devil ceased, and she lived a peaceful life, wearing always the dress of the Beguines, until her death. Her body was first buried in the churchyard at Stommeln and then in the church itself; in 1342 her remains were carried to Niedeggen in the Eifel; a couple of centuries later, June 22, 1569, they were transferred to Julich, where a monument to her still exists. At Julich are also to be seen the notes made by Peter of Dacia and the collection of her letters which the Bollandists have published under the date of June 22 (IV, 271-430). It is difficult to decide just how much literal truth exists in Christine’s visions and apparitions from Purgatory. But even Renan did not doubt the purity of her life (Hist. litt. de la France, XXVIII, 1-26). The veneration of the Church has not been granted to Christine; however, the anniversary of her death, November 6, is observed in Julich.

GABRIEL MEIER


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