Letter of Henry VIII of England to Pope Leo X
September 15, 1513
Henry VIII was the second son of Henry VII and destined for the Church. Religion was, in a way, his life long hobby. This letter was written a little before Henry’s Defence of the Seven Sacraments against Luther which he began in 1518 and for which Leo was to name him Fidei defensor! At the time of writing Henry was 22 and he may have been considering a foundation of the Colettines in England! But the rest, as they say, is history!
To our Holy and Most Clement Lord, Pope Leo X
Humbly prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness, I beg to kiss them with the utmost respect.
Since We arrived in Belgium we have repeatedly heard everywhere the praises of the glorious virgin Colette, so famous for her purity of soul, for her simplicity and innocence of life, but above all for her admirable zeal and her active charity. We have become convinced that like, as it were, a diligent bee that gathers exquisite honey from the precious flowers of the most rare virtues, she has put all her efforts in to reproducing numerous hives of her gatherings. For it is she who has enriched not only Belgium, but France, Burgundy, Savoy and other countries as well, by those many monasteries she had founded and erected - always under the guidance of the Holy Spirit - by her efforts and her industry, which monasteries she had filled with chaste virgins who unceasingly offer up to Almighty God their songs and sacrifices of praises.
Also, God has not permitted that this his servant rests entombed in obscurity, but has been pleased to glorify this virgin by remarkable miracles, both when her soul was still bound in the chains of her body, but still more yet since she has been permitted to enjoy immortal glory that she has so well merited by her works and her manifold sufferings.
Numerous gatherings of the faithful can be seen daily at her tomb, where they all find comfort in their troubles and tribulations near those precious relics and they also find there answer to their petitions.
That is why it has seemed to Us quite astonishing that this blessed virgin, who in the judgment of your Holy See has been recognised worthy to receive in this world the honours due her, has so far not yet been inscribed in the number of saints!
Therefore, We, too, come to deposit at the feet of Your Holiness our most fervent prayers. We, therefore, come to you to supplicate you in the most insistent manner that you inscribe this blessed Colette where the vote of the people has already placed her - in the number of saints! All this, though of course, only after Your Holiness will have duly examined into, and pronounced upon, the authenticity of the virtues and miracles attributed to her. Such a solemn Act will not fail to contribute to the aggrandisement of our holy Religion and honour of Colette, but to the greater glory of Almighty God, who never leaves his own Church without fruitfulness. Also, such an act of canonisation will mightily contribute to the immortality of the name of Your Holiness.
May the All-Highest accord to Your Holiness a perfect health and the fulfilment of all Your wishes.
Your very devoted and very obedient Son,