It’s a full moon, just in time for my birthday today! As I was growing up in a Catholic neighborhood, it was common to celebrate your birthday along with the saint’s feast day that it fell on. Some of my friends got to celebrate with the biggies: St. Francis, St. Patrick, or St. Valentine. Others even got the feast day of the Archangels. So who did I get? Actually, there are a lot of saints who have October 14th as their saint day. One is fairly famous and most of them are men. But after studying all of the saints I share a day with, I discovered an obscure woman known as St. Angadresma who died in 695 AD.

Little is known about St. Angadresma (I call her Saint Angie for short) but what I’ve discovered makes me wish I’d known her while she was alive. St. Angadresma was born in 615 AD in France and, at a young age, was betrothed to Ansbert of Chausey. When she discovered the betrothal she was horrified. She’d already decided to join a religious order and prayed for a disease to disfigure her, thereby making her unappealing to her betrothed. She then contracted leprosy and the engagement was broken.

She was allowed to enter a monastery (now known as a convent) and after her initiation ceremony, the disease disappeared. Many years later she became the abbess of a Benedictine monastery near Beauvais, France. St. Angadresma became known for her pragmatic approach to managing the monastery, in good times and bad. She even helped save the monastery and its inhabitants from a fierce fire. This fire destroyed a lot of the monastery’s records and there are very few details remaining from her life. But from what little is known, she apparently was a brilliant businesswoman and suffered no fools. She was smart, organized, and determined to fight off invaders, bad investments made without her knowledge, and heretics. No matter the threat–physcial, emotional, or mental–she fought them off with her intelligence and strength of will.

One of the miracles attributed to St. Angadresma many years after her death involved the Siege of Beauvais at the end of June 1472. The Duke of Burgundy, aka Charles the Bold, had taken the town of Beauvais hostage. The town had a tiny garrison (30 archers, less than a hundred soldiers, and only a few artillery pieces) to stand against more than 80,000 men. When the town refused to open its gates, the army attacked on three sides while everyone in town, including women and children, fought them off from the ramparts. Children threw stones, women tossed hot oil, while the townsmen used heavier weapons. When things looked bleak for the exhausted townspeople, a soldier grabbed the coffer that held the relics of St. Angadresma and paraded it through the town to up the morale.

Inspired by the fierce St. Angadresma, another famous French woman/warrior appeared. A Beauvais woman named Jayne Layne became known as Jeanne Hachette because she fought off the Burgundy army with a battle axe. To this day, Jeanne Hachette is still known as one of France’s fiercest fighters.

The town of Beauvais withstood the constant bombardment of the Burgundy army and took huge losses. But every day a soldier would parade through the streets with the relics of St. Angadresma and it was enough to keep the poor townspeople fighting. When the army’s artillery blew holes in their defensive walls, the townspeople repaired the walls with the stones that paved the streets.

Finally a month later, on July 22 1472, Charles the Bold and his army gave up. The town of Beauvais, with the help of St. Angadresma, saved not only their city but all of France. After that defeat, Charles the Bold–who’d intended to invade and conquer all of France–fell back only to be defeated at the Siege of Nancy in Lorraine. France was saved and the town of Beauvais gave the credit to St. Angadresma.

Often, saints are shown with their symbols (usually the instruments of their martyrdom or death) and are often chosen to protect people in certain situations. (for example, St. Michael is the Patron Saint of soldiers.) But since so little is known of St. Angadresma, she has no symbols or patronages. So when I was a young girl, I decided to give her some.

Since our days coincide in Autumn, I chose fall-themed symbols that I know St. Angie would’ve had in Beauvais: Pumpkins, Apricot-colored roses, and outdoor fire pits. Oh, and hot coffee. Because coffee was a thing in the 7th century and is every businesswoman’s best friend. As far as her patronage? Even as a young girl I knew I wanted to be a writer. So, of course, I gave her the patronage of writers who write long, complicated romance novels. And considering how many words I’ve written in the last few years, I have no doubt she’s up to the challenge!


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