mardi 5 mai 2015

Sainte JUDITH de KULMSEE ou de THURINGE (JUTTA von SANGERHAUSEN), veuve et tertiaire franciscaine


Sainte Judith

Patronne de la Prusse, Sainte Judith ou Jutta était née en Thuringe. Veuve, elle quitta son pays pour la Prusse où son frère Hannen von Sangerhausen était grand maître des Chevaliers teutoniques. Judith passa le reste de sa vie à Kulmsee, en Prusse orientale, auprès des chevaliers, entièrement consacrée à la prière et à des œuvres caritatives. Elle y mourut le 12 mai 1260.


Sainte Judith

Bénédictine au Disibodenberg ( 1260)

ou Jutta von Sangerhausen.

Originaire de Thuringe et devenue précocement veuve, elle quitta son pays et sa parenté pour rejoindre son frère qui était grand maître de l'Ordre Teutonique. Elle passa le reste de sa vie près de lui, à Kulmsee*, dans l'exercice des bonnes œuvres. Elle y fonda un hôpital et un monastère.

*aujourd'hui la ville polonaise de Chlemza.


Elle est patronne de la Prusse.



Le beau nom de Judith, dont l’étymologie signifie « qui rend gloire à Dieu », reste à l’honneur.

Judith vivait au XIIIème siècle en Allemagne. Devenue veuve, elle quitte sa région de Thuringe et sa parenté pour se retirer en Prusse. Dans ce pays, son frère est grand-maître de l’Ordre des Chevaliers teutoniques. Sous sa protection, Judith consacrera le restant de sa vie aux œuvres caritatives, dans la fidélité à la prière. Elle s’endort dans le Seigneur le 12 mai 1260.

Une autre Judith est appelée parfois "la Jeanne d'Arc de la Bible". Dans la Bible, elle est l'héroïne du Livre qui porte son nom. Femme intrépide, remplie de foi en Dieu et de patriotisme, elle risque sa vie pour sauver la liberté et l'honneur de son peuple. Si on l'a comparée à Jeanne d'Arc, comme libératrice nationale, elle en est toutefois fort différente dans sa manière d'agir. Pour sauver la ville et les gens de Béthulie, sa région natale, Judith utilisera son charme et sa beauté, ce qui ne diminue en rien son courage. Elle séduit l'ennemi, le général Holopherne, chef des armées de Nabuchodonosor. Ayant réussi à l'endormir, elle lui tranchera la tête. L'action guerrière de Judith a inspiré nombre d'artistes : ainsi Michel-Ange, Mantegna, Botticelli et encore Véronèse et Donatello.

La prière de Judith est toujours à faire nôtre, ainsi que celle d'une autre juive héroïque, Esther. Ainsi en son cantique chapitre 16 dont voici quelques accents : "Bénissez le Seigneur, Lui le briseur de guerres... par la main d'une femme, il a contré ses ennemis. Nul ne peut résister à sa voix : à ceux qui le craignent, Il demeure favorable. Seigneur, Tu es grand, glorieux, invincible...".

Rédacteur: Frère Bernard Pineau, OP


Jutta of Kulmsee, Widow (AC)

Born at Sangerhausen, Thuringia; died at Kulmsee, Prussia, in 1250 or 1260. The written life of this young noblewoman, bears a curious resemblance to that of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, who was almost her contemporary. Jutta, too, was happily married with a family of children and she was prostrated by the loss of her husband, who died on a pilgrimage or crusade to the Holy Land. Thereafter, she provided for her children, divested herself of her property, and passed her few remaining years in religious retirement and care for the poor. In Jutta's case this was in the territory of the Teutonic Knights, whose grand-master was a relative of hers. After her death at her hermitage near Kulmsee a strong local cultus of her grew up in Prussia, where she is venerated as patroness (Attwater, Benedictines).



St. Judith (Jutta)

May 5


Jutta or Judith, was born at Sangerhausen, Thuringia. We don't know much about her family and early life, but she must have been from a noble household, because at the age of fifteen she was married to a nobleman.

She had a reputation for being a very compassionate, gentle and charitable wife. She lived as simply as her husband allowed and raised their children to love God with all their hearts. Initially her husband was upset about her simplicity of dress, but gradually she was able to persuade him of the importance of simplicity and charity and he soon followed her example.

The details are uncertain, but her husband died during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Judith was left to raise their children by herself. According to Alban Butler as her children grew up, each eventually entered religious life. This left Judith free and she gave all her possessions for the care of the poor and then begged in the streets for food for them.

She then journeyed on foot to Prussia where her relative, Hanno of Sangerhausen, lived. She begged for food as she went and shared what was given to her with beggars she met on the road. In 1256, she eventually arrived and settled in the ruins of a building near Kulmsee where she lived the life of a solitary or hermit.

Her reputation for holiness and deep contemplative prayer became known to all who lived in the villages around. Traditions tell us that she was often seen to be in an ecstasy of prayer and lifted from the ground as if by angels. She spent the next four years in her solitude praying for the conversion of sinners and for the perseverance of those recently baptized. She would often leave her hermitage to care for the sick poor in the area, especially those who suffered from leprosy.

In 1260 she developed a fever that proved to be fatal and she died on May 12, 1260. People who had prayed at her graveside, asking her intercession for healing of various afflictions soon reported miracles. She is the patroness of Prussia. Just reading about her life shows us the essentials of her holiness, simplicity, humility, compassion and love.

© 1998 The Monastery of Christ in the Desert



Saint Judith of Prussia

(Saint Jutta of Thuringia)


Widow, Third Order
Saint Judith of Prussia, also known as Jutta, born in Thuringia, was a member of the very noble family of Sangerhausen with which the dukes of Brunswick were related. She was espoused to a nobleman of equal rank, but in the married state she was more intent upon virtue and the fear of God than upon worldly honor.

In the beginning the piety of Jutta displeased her husband. But later he learned to value it and was heart and soul with her in her pious endeavors. He made a pilgrimage to the holy places in Jerusalem and died on the way. Saint Judith of Prussia received the news of his death with deep sorrow, but also with the most perfect conformity with the will of God, and resolved to spend her widowhood in a manner pleasing to God.

After Saint Judith of Prussia had provided for her children, who had all been reared in the fear of God, Jutta, with the consent of her confessor, disposed of the costly clothes and jewels she had until then worn in accordance with her rank, as well as all her expensive furniture. She entered the Third Order of St Francis, and wore the simple garment of a religious. She devoted herself entirely to the care of the sick, especially the lepers, and to the poor, whom she visited in their hovels and provided with all necessities. The crippled and the blind she led by the hand to her home and took care of their needs.

Many people laughed at the distinguished lady who made herself the servant of the poorest. But she recognized in the poor her Divine Lord, and deemed herself happy and highly honored that she could render them such services. Once when she was at prayer, Christ Himself appeared to her and said to her lovingly:

“All My treasures are yours, and yours are Mine.”

That spurred Jutta on to still greater devotion in serving the poor of Christ.

Another time when she was ill and apparently close to death, Our Savior again appeared to her and gave her the choice of entering into glory at the time, or of suffering still more out of love for Him. Saint Judith of Prussia chose suffering. Our Lord gave her strength again to be up and about, but He now destined her for a spiritual work of mercy.

On the eastern boundary of Germany, at the mouth of the Vistula, the Prussians were still living as pagans. St Adalbert, archbishop of Prague, had indeed attempted to convert them to Christianity, but all in vain; he was martyred in 997. Since 1226 the German Order of Knights labored to bring these stubborn pagans under the yoke of Christ. To offer assistance in the great labor which this undertaking required, God wished someone to pray.

By divine inspiration, Saint Judith of Prussia went into this neighborhood about 1260, and built a little hermitage near a large body of water. There she prayed unceasingly for the conversion of the Prussians. The Christian inhabitants of the neighborhood sometimes beheld her raised high in the air in the fervor of her devotion. She had as her confessor the Franciscan Father John Lobedau, who died in the odor of sanctity, and later the bishop of Kulm.

After Jutta had lived here for four years, her holy life came to a close. With deep contrition she again confessed to the bishop all, even the smallest, faults of her entire life, received the holy sacraments, and surrendered her soul to God with the words, “It is consummated.” Her body was brought to the church at Kulm, where without being informed, so many people at once gathered as had not been seen in that city for many years. The church was filled with a wonderful odor.

Since very many miracles were wrought at her grave, a special chapel was built in her honor, in which Jutta has been venerated for centuries as the special patron of Prussia.

*from The Franciscan Book of Saints, Marion Habig, OFM


Blessed Jutta of Thuringia

In truth, virtue and piety were always of prime importance to Jutta and her husband, both of noble rank. The two were set to make a pilgrimage together to the holy places in Jerusalem, but her husband died on the way. The newly widowed Jutta, after taking care to provide for her children, resolved to live in a manner utterly pleasing to God. She disposed of the costly clothes, jewels and furniture befitting one of her rank, and became a Secular Franciscan, taking on the simple garment of a religious.

From that point her life was utterly devoted to others: caring for the sick, particularly lepers; tending to the poor, whom she visited in their hovels; helping the crippled and blind with whom she shared her own home. Many of the townspeople of Thuringia laughed at how the once-distinguished lady now spent all her time. But Jutta saw the face of God in the poor and felt honored to render whatever services she could.

About the year 1260, not long before her death, Jutta lived near the non-Christians in eastern Germany. There she built a small hermitage and prayed unceasingly for their conversion. She has been venerated for centuries as the special patron of Prussia.