Saint Clotilde, the Fleur de Lis Queen

In the midst of terrible sufferings, Saint Clotilde did not lose heart, but instead redoubled her fortitude of soul. She contributed greatly to the conversion of Clovis, the first Catholic King of France.

Newsroom (15/10/2021 13:00, Gaudium Press) Clotilde came from a royal family of barbarians who lived on the shores of the Baltic Sea. She was likely born in Geneva in the year 474. As a teenager, her parents, who had raised her in the Catholic Faith, were murdered by her uncle. At the age of nineteen, she married the pagan King of the Franks, Clovis.

Not only by her explanations of the Doctrine of the Church but above all by the example of her life, she tried to convert her husband; however, he remained attached to paganism. His effective conversion took place when, resorting to the “God of Clotilde“, he defeated the Alamans at the Battle of Tolbiac.

On Christmas of 496, Clovis was baptized by Saint Remigius in Reims Cathedral. It is said that on that day an Angel handed Saint Clotilde a banner, on which were painted three Fleurs de Lis (from the French, lily or lily flower), and told her that these should replace the designs of the three frogs, which were on the flag of the Franks.

King Clovis filially obeyed this order, and the Fleur de Lis became the official symbol of France for centuries.

Indeed, the banner that Saint Joan of Arc carried in her virginal hands in the struggles for the liberation of the “first-born daughter of the Church” against the invading English bore the Fleur de Lis[1]. But the wicked French Revolution rejected this beautiful symbol and adopted the flag with three stripes in the colours of blue, white, and red.

Saint Cloud, grandson of Saint Clotilde

Due to the evil tendencies inherited from paganism, the barbarians committed tremendous acts of violence. Even the sons of Saint Clotilde themselves, after the death of Clovis, warred among themselves and committed murders.

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After a victory against the Visigoths in 507, Clovis had established the capital of his kingdom in Paris, where he and his wife took up residence. At the request of Saint Clotilde, he had a church built in honour of Saint Peter and Saint Paul on the banks of the River Seine.

 Clotilde, who had renounced the world and resided in Paris, where she led a religious life, kept three grandchildren with her while they were still young that she might protect them.  However, two of them were murdered, and the youngest, called Cloud, was saved. He later became a priest and sanctified himself. The memorial of St. Cloud, or Clodoaldo, is celebrated on September 7.

Always remaining confident and combative, Saint Clotilde had several convents and churches built. In 524, she took up residence in the Abbey of St. Martin in Tours, where she died in 545 at the age of 71.

She was buried in the Church of Saint Genevieve in Paris. But to avoid the desecrations perpetrated by the French Revolution, her remains were transported to Reims, where they are now in the Basilica of Saint Clotilde[2].

Sometimes a legend says more than historical fact

Regarding Saint Clotilde, Dr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira made comments which we summarize as follows:

“The weapons of the pagan king were three frogs, but when he received Baptism, they became fleurs de Lis. It is the action of the Church, touching what is natural and fallen and transforming it. […]

“The Bible speaks of the transformation of stones into children of Abraham, which is a beautiful thing, but this one is very poetic and beautiful.

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“You can imagine a frog – with that rough skin, that horrible swampy look, that snooty sufficiency, that lack of breath giving the idea of its craving – that transforms and becomes a wonderful lily. This is the transformation that souls, on the occasion of the Reign of Mary, must undergo.

“Therein lies the value of legends and wonder: sometimes they say much more than an authentically historical event. The whole story of Saint Clotilde can be based on this: the transformation of frogs into Fleurs de Lis. […]

Mother of criminal children

“Saint Clotilde had criminal sons who threw themselves at each other, along with a saintly grandson, who was the famous Saint Cloud. She was of a race of frogs transformed into a pure Fleur de Lis. She had a few other Fleurs de Lis next to her, but the rest were toads in the process of transformation.

“And there we see the tragedy of her life. So great was the weight of paganism, of the bad old customs, that heroic virtue was needed in order not to fall into the sins of paganism, even if one had been baptized a Catholic.

“There was a curious fact of a very pious Indian woman, whom [St. Joseph of] Anchieta met in São Paulo, which at the time was no more than the Courtyard of the College. The Indian was quite sad, and he asked her what she felt. She replied:

“Father, I am longing to eat the arm of a Tapuia child…”.

She had been baptized, she received Communion, and thus would not eat the arm of the child, though she longed to do so…”

“The people who surrounded Santa Clotilde were not anthropophagous (members of a mythical race of cannibals), but it was not long before they were like them. They were baptized, but they were homesick for barbaric things.

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“She, in the midst of all this, was a Fleur de Lis of the most perfect and admirable, teaching virtue and meekness, giving admirable examples of a sense of her own dignity. […]

Humanity’s great return to the true Church

“It is very opportune that we ask you to obtain for us the grace to see the hour of the transformation of other frogs into Fleurs de Lis. And when there is the Grand Retour – Great Return – and work begins on building the world to come, let us be what she was in her world: the forerunners of admirable progress. That, then, truly, because progress is in Our Lord and in Our Lady.“[3]

Dr. Plinio used the French expression ‘Grand Retour‘ in order to designate the great return of humanity to the true Church. This will be achieved by means of an overwhelming torrent of graces which, through the Blessed Virgin, God will grant to the world for the establishment of the Reign of Mary.

May St Clotilde – whose memorial is celebrated on 3 June – pray for us that we may be indomitable warriors against the enemies of the Church, and in defense of goodness, truth and beauty, that the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary may soon be proclaimed.

By Paul Francis Martos

[1] Cf. VIRION, Pierre. Le mystère de Jeanne d’Arc et la politique des nacions. Paris: Téqui. 1972, p. 173.

[2] Cf. DARRAS, Joseph Epiphane. Histoire Génerale de l’Église. Paris: Louis Vivès. 1870, v. XIV, pp. 17-32, 237 passim.


[3] CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, Plinio. Saint Clotilde, an admirable fleur-de-lis. In revista Dr. Plinio. São Paulo. Year XVI, n.183 (June 2013), p. 27-29.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm


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