(d. 1070)

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(d. 1070),

martyr. Born near Boulogne, she was married when young to Bertulf of Ghistelles, a Fleming. He soon tired of her and never consummated the marriage. Godeliva was maltreated by her stepmother so she fled to her family and made complaints to the count of Flanders and the bishop of Tournai. Bertulf was exhorted to take her back and treat her well; he accepted the first recommendation but rejected the second. Simulating reconciliation, he had her seized by two servants who drowned her in a pond while a noose had been tied round her neck. They then replaced her in bed, hoping that her death would be attributed to natural causes. Meanwhile Bertulf had gone to Bruges to escape suspicion: he then married again almost at once.

In 1084 Godeliva's body was enshrined in the church of Ghistelles following reports of miracles. This is still a place of pilgrimage where water drunk from her well cures sore throats. One of her miracles resulted in the cure from blindness of Bertulf 's daughter. An early Life of Godeliva survives, as does the document verifying her relics in 1084. Her cult was popular in Boulogne and Flanders: artists from the 15th to the 18th century (and possibly earlier) depicted her being strangled with a scarf by the two servants. Feast: 6 July.

Lives in AA.SS. Jul. II (1747), 409–36; M. Coens, ‘Vie ancienne de Ste Godelive par Drogon’, Anal. Boll., xliv (1926), 102–37; M. English, Les quatre couronnes de sainte Godelive de Gistel (1953); see also B.L.S., vii. 44–5; H.S.S.C., vi. 272; Bibl. SS., vii. 70–6.

Subjects: Christianity.

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