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Saint Adela

(died 8 March 1137 A.D.)


Adela comes from an Old German name that means “Of Noble Rank.”


 When a person has money, he or she can use it for good or for ill. Adele used her money and power to do much good.


St. Adela was born sometime around the year 1067 and was the youngest daughter of William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and King of England, and his wife Mathilde of Flanders. Adela was very well educated, spoke several languages, and was deeply religious. Around the year 1080, she married Stephen III, Count of Blois, who was one of the richest men in Europe. Together they had 11 children although some of them may have been Stephen’s children from a previous marriage because he was 20 years older than Adela.


Adela supported scholars and poets at her court, and this significantly contributed to the spiritual and cultural life of her time. She continue this support all of her life. She also generously endowed abbeys and churches with money so they could expand and preserve the culture and arts of the time. Adela also corresponded on ecclesiastical matters with the Bishop of Le Mans.


In 1095, Stephen became one of the leaders of the First Crusade, whose purpose was to reclaim the Holy Land for the Christians. During the four years that he was away in the Holy Land where Jesus had lived, Adela controlled hundreds of his estates in France and was so effective in her governance that she became known as “the heroine of the First Crusade.” Stephen returned home for a time, during which Adela conceived their youngest son, but then went back to the Holy Land where he was killed in battle in 1102. Adela then became regent for their eldest son Thibaud who ruled his father’s estates. In 1109 Thibaud was old enough to rule on his own, but Adela continued to exert influence over the estates by her good advice.


In 1122, when her children were grown, Adela became a nun in a convent that followed the rule of life given by St. Benedict. While in the convent, she was overjoyed that her youngest son Henry was made a bishop in 1129. Adela lived in the convent in prayer and humility until her death in 1137.


Adela is an excellent example of how people with money and power can use these to advance the Kingdom of God. We may not have as much money and power as she did, but what we have we can use to help others learn about and follow Jesus.

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