This visionary, reformer, healer of schisms and worker of miracles was born to a poor carpenter of Corbie in 1381 and was named Nicolette in honor of St. Nicholas of Myra, for whom her parents had a special devotion. When both parents died within a short time of each other, Colette was placed under the care of Dom de Roye, the Benedictine abbot of Corbie. Instead of marrying, as he suggested, Colette distributed her belongings to the poor and became a tertiary of St. Francis, taking a vow of seclusion with the permission of her guardian.
On the feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis, September 17, 1402, Colette was immured in a cell between two buttresses of the church named Notre Dame de Corbie. In the wall separating the church and the cell was a small opening through which Colette could receive Holy Communion and attend services. St. Francis appeared to her and requested that she reform the Order of St. Clare; her confessor encouraged her to leave her cell and seek the authority of the Pope. She turned to Benedict XIII, an antipope, who allowed her to enter the order of Poor Clares and empowered her by several Bulls, dated 1406, 1407 and 1412, to serve as the superior general with full authority to reform the order and to found new convents. The Collettine reform spread quickly from France to Spain, Flanders and Savoy and even influenced the order of the Friars Minor.
In addition to being a reformer, St. Colette helped heal the great schism when there were three claimants to the papacy: Benedict XIII, John XXIII and Gregory VII. Together with St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Colette persuaded the Council to proceed with a new election, after which Martin V was chosen as the legitimate heir to the throne of Peter. Colette was favored with many visions,especially those regarding the Passion of Our Lord. She was frequently rapt in ecstasy while assisting at Mass and especially after receiving Holy Communion. After experiencing a vision in which men and women in great numbers were falling into Hell, St. Colette became fervently devoted to the Poor Souls in Purgatory and prayed unceasingly for the salvation of souls.
Throughout her lifetime there was one article that St. Colette yearned for, a relic of the True Cross. One day as she was praying, the remembrance of Christ’s sufferings drew her into an ecstasy that was witnessed by her companions in religion. When the ecstasy ended, she discovered in her hand a small golden crucifix that had not been there before. The figure of the Crucified is on the front; on the back, immediately behind the head of Christ, is a small golden receptacle containing a red stone. Surrounding this on four sides are four pearls. Four blue stones are situated on the outer extremities, with a fifth pearl added at the foot of the cross. It was soon discovered that the cross was actually a reliquary. On the front of the crucifix where the figure of Our Lord is displayed, a portion of the cross containing the figure can be turned back, or removed, revealing a relic of the True Cross that is identified with an inscription.
When St. Colette told St. Vincent Ferrer about her experience and the heavenly gift of the crucifix, he held out his hand to receive it. But when he saw it in the hand of St. Colette, he fell to his knees and for a time was oblivious to everything around him. This precious Cross from Heaven is kept at the Poor Clare convent of Besancon, France. At the same convent is another precious crucifix, that being the miraculous missionary cross of St. Vincent Ferrer. St. Colette foretold her own death, which took place in 1447 during her 67th year.
~Source:”Miraculous Images of Our Lord” by Joan Carrol Cruz