St. Bertha

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(VIRGIN AND MARTYR)


Abbess of Val d'Or, near Avenay, Reims, d. about 690. She was wife of St. Gumbert, Lord of Champenois, a nobleman of royal blood. He built a nunnery for his wife and her maidens at Avenay, and retired himself to a monastery on the coast, where he was soon afterwards put to death by pagan marauders. When the people of Avenay suffered form lack of water, St. Peter appeared to Bertha and showed her a field where there was a good spring. This she bought for a pound of silver. It became a holy well which cured diseases and supplied both her own nuns and the hamlet of Avenay with water. Bertha was martyred by Gumbert's relatives, who were indignant at the distribution of his money to the poor. Whether the abbey founded at Avenay followed the Benedictine or the Columban Rule, does not seem certain even to Mabillon. The whole legend in fact is very late and unreliable. St. Bertha's feast is on the 1st of May. (See Acta SS. for that day.)


Dunbar, Dictionary of Saintly Women (London, 1904); Chevalier, Repertoire des sources historiques: Bio-Bibliographie (Paris, 1905).


HERBERT THURSTON


Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913

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