Letter of St Colette to all her communities on the death of Father Henri de Balme
16 February 1439
My dearest and well loved Sisters in God,
I recommend my poor soul before the Lord to your good prayers and petitions as humbly as I know how to, wishing you from my heart an increase in all the virtues necessary for salvation, and beseeching you most affectionately to live virtuously and grow continuously in the perfect love of God and in the true observance of your Rule and all that is ordered for your good.
May it please you to know that these days a great sorrow and anguish and bitterness of soul and body has come upon me, and not without just cause,for last Ash Wednesday after Matins the sickness of our Reverend Father Henri, became much worse so that on the Thursday, a little before midnight, he was taken to our chapel and there in the presence of our said brothers and fathers and myself received the most precious Body of our Lord Jesus Christ with great devotion; and straight afterwards the sacrament of holy anointing, and after he had received it he took leave to his room, looking better than he had before or so it seemed to us. On the Saturday he became much weaker and on Monday too he spent the whole day in our chapel and oratory in our presence, in great devotion. and knowledge of God, as was apparent to us. He entered his last sufferings, all the recommendations of his soul, and at half past six in the evening, while praying and speaking with our Lord, his fine and glorious soul rendered itself gently and devotedly up to God, our blessed Creator.
Wherefore as earnestly as I can, as dearly and affectionately as possible, I recommend it to you, begging you with all my heart and entirely,that if you have loved him loyally while he was alive, your love will be not a whit lessened after his going, but rather increased, so that you will do your duty and pray most diligently to God for him, as you know he well deserves. Although I believe that it is a better thing that he is praying for us than we for him: and also I recommend his noble soul to your devout Father Confessor and to all my Fathers and Brothers; and I ask my own poor intention.
Praying that the blessed Holy Spirit will watch over you and keep you in his grace and finally lead you into the glory of paradise. Amen.
Written at Besancon, 26 February 1439