Dictionary of Saintly Women – Saint Adela (2)

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Saint Adela (2), December 24 (Addula, Athela and perhaps Adolena), founder and abbess of Pfalzel (Palatiolum), + c.734. Saint Irmina of Horres and Saint adela of Pfalzel were duaghters of Dagobert II, king of Austrasia, some times called Saint, and honoured December 23. Adela married Alberic, and had several children. About 700, being a widow, she took the veil in a monastery built for her by Dagobert and Saint Modwald, or Rodcald, archbishop of Treves, at Pfalzel on the Moselle. The archbishop’s sister, Saint Severa was the first abbess, and was succeeded by Adela. She is probably that Adolena to whom Saint Elfleda wrote to bespeak her kindness and hospitality for another English abbess on her way to Rome, supposed to be Blessed Withburga (2). Saint Boniface visited her convent on his way from Frisia to Thuringia, about 722. She had at the time a grandson, named Gregory, staying with her, a boy of fourteen or fifteen, who read aloud from the Holy Scriptures while the nuns and their guest were at dinner. Saint Boniface remarked that he read very well, and bade him explain the passage. This the boy could not do, and Boniface took up the subject and preached to the whole community with so much eloquence ami impressiveness that Gregory told his grandmother he must go with the holy man and become his pupil. Adela objected to let her darling go and travel in heathen lands and unexplored wilds; but he feared no danger, and far from listening to any dissuasion, he said if his grandmother would not give him a horse, as became the grandson of a king, he would follow the missionaries on foot. Adela saw in the earnestness of the child a divine call, and furnished him with what was necessary for the expedition. From that day Gregory never left Saint Boniface, until he witnessed his martyrdom at Docking, or Dockum, in Friesland.

Achery and Mabillon give a copy of Adela’s will, in which she leaves every thing to her convent, except an estate which she bequeaths to her son Alberic. They call her “pious” rather than “saint”, as her worship seems uncertain. She is commemorated in the French Martyrology, December 24, and honoured with her sister Irmina in several martyrologies. Wion calls her “Saint Athela”. Adela, Irmina. and Clotilda form one of the Triads, who were probably heathen tribal goddesses. The pilgrimages to their shrines and the rites there observed retain traces of paganism.

MLA Citation

  • Agnes B C Dunbar. “Saint Adela”. A Dictionary of Saintly Women, 1904. Saints.SQPN.com. 25 September 2012. Web. 1 August 2014. <http://saints.sqpn.com/dictionary-of-saintly-women-saint-adela-2/>