Ida de NIVELLES (1197-1232)

Ida di Nivelles

She was born in Nivelles in 1197. At the age of 9 years, to escape a forced marriage, she fled in a small community of beguines in Nivelles, where she remained until the age of 16.
Her experience is comparable to that of the “crazy saints” of the Byzantine-Oriental tradition. Having once met a beggar in whom she recognized Christ, this excessive personality embraced forever the most complete poverty. Dressed in repugnant rags, she went where she used to parade in elegant dressings. Ida took upon herself the responsibility of begging for her companions and with them she devoted herself to the care of the sick. Sometimes, in 1213, she went to the Cistercian community of Kerkom, near Tienen (Tienen) which a year later will transfer to La Ramee. A year later, Ida did her monastic profession and shortly thereafter came Beatrice (from Nazareth). Ida was a gifted mystic and her Vita, most probably written by a certain Goswin de Villers, offers many examples of her mystical experiences. Another important source on Ida’s life is the text Quinques prudent Virgines writes by the Cistercian chronicler Crisostomo Henriquez (1594-1632). One also talks about it in the  following works:

  • A.d’Haenens, Femmes excédentaires et vocation religieuse dans l’ancien diocèse de Liège lors de l’essort urbain. Le cas d’Ide de Nivelles, dans Hommages à la Wallonie. Mélanges offerts à Maurice A.Arnould et P.Ruelle, édit. Université de Bruxelles, 1981, p.217-235
  •  R.Hanon de Louvet, L’origine nivelloise de l’institution béguinale, Annales de société archéologique et folklorique de Nivelles et du Braban Wallon, XVII, première partie, 1952, p.1-77
  • DUFRASNE Dieudonné, Libres et folles d’amour, éd. Thomas Mols, Bierges, 2007, p 89-90