06 July 2011

6 July - St. Godelieve

Weather: The weather on St. Godelieve's day foretells the weather of the next six weeks.

If it rains on St. Godelieve, it will rain for forty days.

If it rains on St. Godelieve, the Lord is blessing the vegetable gardens [that one I like]
Poor Saint Godelieve! (Or Godelina as she is found in the Catholic Encyclopedia)

Dear Agony Aunt:  I need your advice on how to help my sister, Lieve.  She was always such a good girl, and I really thought she was going to become a nun - in fact, that is what she wanted, even though a lot of the guys wanted to marry her.  She was always going around and helping the poor, so much so that even Dad, who's no slouch when it comes to charity, got a bit testy with her for using funds he'd earmarked for something else.

One of the guys who wanted to marry her was a real creep, you know?  He could put on a good act of being a nice guy, but we could tell.  You see, he's one of those boys who always got what he wanted, when he wanted it.  His mother (and she is TOXIC) never said no to him - the most she would do, when he was being a brat was to say "Oh, Bertolf, you know it makes Mama sad when you act like that."  Puke!  And if one of us told our parents that Berty was a bully and they complained to her, she'd start yelling about how dare they accuse her pwecious, he might be high-spirited, etc., and there were libel laws, etc., and if there was any trouble it's because we girls were leading him on, etc..

You can see where this is going.  All the guys wanted to marry Lieve, so naturally Berty wanted what everyone else wanted.  He started coming around, and 'acting' like a gentleman  - everyone thought that he'd outgrown his 'high-spirits'.  Even Lieve was impressed by the way he treated her. And because his family belongs to the same country club as Dad's boss, he got Dad's boss to weigh in as well.  Anyway, Lieve married Berty a week after she graduated high school.

We didn't hear from her for a long time.  Berty's mom likes to spend a lot of time at this ranch she bought - she likes wide open spaces where there aren't a lot of people around - so naturally Berty and Lieve went with her.  There was no phone service out there and no email - we tried Lieve's cell phone, but it kept saying 'not in service'.  I wrote to her several times, but never got an answer back.

Then one night she showed up out of the blue.  Merciful God! She looked terrible!  Her body was emaciated, she had half-healed bruises and sores, her hair was starting to fall out.  She hadn't been married one night before Berty started beating her (and other things too, but I had to leave the room while she told my parents).  He destroyed her cell phone and made sure there was no way she could get a message to anyone.  She never knew that I had written because he destroyed my letters before she saw them. He spread a bunch of vicious lies about her, so that nobody would sympathize with her or help her, and then told her that nobody cared about her, not even her family.  And when he had to leave on one of his business trips, his mother locked her in her room and occasionally remembered to feed her.

How she managed to escape without getting caught, I'll never know.  Anyway, Dad called the authorities and swore out a complaint.  Berty was hauled in, but managed to talk his way out of it.  Oh, he put on a good act, tearfully begging Lieve's pardon, promising amendment, blaming some obscure medical condition.  He was taking drugs for it now, he would go to the anger management classes, everything would be okay if she would forgive him and come home, he'd never lay a hand on her again... As for Toxic Mommy Dearest, well, she was old and forgetful at times, she really loves Lieve, but sometimes she just doesn't know what day it is, she didn't realize that Lieve had somehow got locked in the room, 'how foolish of you, darling'... Puke!

And everyone fell for it!  Lieve likes to quote the Bible about a woman being subject to her husband, and my parents thought that spoiled brat Berty was finally growing up.  Anyway, they went back to the ranch, looking like the most loving couple in the world.  I managed to get another cell phone for my sister and told her to hide it from Berty - she started to say something about not having any secrets from her husband, but I made her promise.

That was a year ago.  Things aren't much better.  They aren't as bad as before, but Berty seems to go off his medication a lot.  However, he always comes back crying and begging her pardon, and she seems to agree with him that she must be aggravating, otherwise he wouldn't hit her...  And Toxic Mom is still there, doing the most hurtful things, but Lieve says that it is just onset of dementia according to Berty.  Oh, and that she deserves to be 'chastised' because she is not a good wife, but that Berty said today (before he left on one of his business trips) that he was very sorry for his treatment of her, there must be something wrong with the dosage he's been taking, and he wants to try marriage counseling.

What can I do?  They are destroying my sister.  I can't let them do that to her.  What can I do?
Dear Agony Aunt: Never mind.  Word came today that my sister died in her sleep.  I don't believe it, but Toxic Mom's doctor signed off on the certificate, so there will be no autopsy.  Well, at last she is free of Berty.
I hope that's her mother-in-law she's standing on
Godelieve (c1049 - 1070) was a pious woman of good family who was married at a young age to Bertolf of Ghistelles.  He and his mother physically and psychologically abused her, his mother going so far as to lock Godelieve in a small cell and feeding her barely enough to keep her alive.  Godelieve managed to escape and returned to her family, who brought the forces of Church and State against Bertolf, until he repented of his actions and promised to treat his wife better. 

Once back in his own lands, however, he again abused his wife.  Finally, he told her that he believed he had been bewitched, and that if she would meet with a sorceress secretly in the woods that night, the spell would be removed.  He then rode away.  That night, two servants in the employ of Bertolf's mother led Godelieve out into the woods, where they strangled her, and then, to make sure that life was extinct, put her body in a nearby pond.  They then took her body back to the castle and put it back in her bed, to look as though she had died in the night of natural causes.

Miracles followed, including the restoration of sight to the blind-from-birth daughter of Bertolf's second marriage, who established a Benedictine abbey at Gistel dedicated to St. Godelieve.

You can read the 11th century Life of Saint Godelieve by Drogo of Sint-Winoksbergen here.
This is good day to make a donation to women's shelters and programs which help abused women.  Finished reading your magazines?  They might be appreciated at the shelters.  Money is always good.  Gift cards to local grocery, pharmacy, and big box stores, phone cards, bus passes as well. OTC medicine for children, housekeeping supplies, socks and underwear... even coupons for these items can be used.  Our state's resource center for women has a webpage with suggestions for donations.  I'm sure your local resource center does also (and if not, go the old-fashioned route and call them).

And prayer!  Don't forget prayers - our greatest weapon against evil.

Love Charm: On the sixth morning of July, go into the garden and pick a full-blown crimson rose.  At night, put it under your pillow.  Before going to sleep, you must repeat these lines:
In my dreams I hope to see
The lad who is to marry me.
In your dreams, you should see your future husband.

[Let's hope he isn't Berty.]