St. Quilisinda (aka Willesuinda, Willesinda, Wilsinda, Wilsinde, Wilsind) was one of the disciples of St. Burgundofara at her double monastery of Evoriacum (later, Faremoutier) near present-day Brie, in Burgundy. She was one of the many women attracted to a convent following the Irish-hardcore Rule of St. Columbanus instead of the Benedictine Rule. She was a Saxon, although we don’t know whether from Saxony or England. (St. Burgundofara had a fair number of English royals and noblewomen at her convent.) She was also a lay sister, doing manual work exclusively instead of also singing the hours, because she could not read.
Her story is told in the Vita S. Burgundofarae or Miracula Evoriacensia by Jonas of Bobbio, which is Book II in his giant book of lives of many saintly people connected with St. Columbanus. (Jonas was writing about his contemporaries or near-contemporaries, as he himself had known Columban.) St. Quilisinda’s birth date is unknown, but she died sometime in 640 or 641.
One day, when working in the garden, she announced that someone working there was going to die soon. “Let us be ready, then, so that our lukewarm negligence will not hurt us in eternity.” (This sort of prophetic moment happened fairly often in the convent, although not every day.) The other nuns asked if she had any idea who, but St. Quilisinda didn’t or couldn’t answer.
Then she fell ill soon afterward. Throughout her illness, she was full of joy, often looking skyward from her bed. Though she’d never learned her letters, she recited the entire Pentateuch, Gospels, and Pauline Epistles from memory. She also sang the priests’ part of all the Offices from memory.
(It’s not clear whether she’d learned them beforehand and just not told anybody, but the Vita is of opinion that the recitation was a charismatic gift and more prophetic than natural. This feat seems to have been recalled in later ages as a sign that God not only liked Biblical learning by women, but would even give them miraculous facilities for it on occasion. St. Monica’s Biblical scholarship, attested by her son St. Augustine as being gained through listening to the readings at Masses and remembering them, was another such case.)
In that spirit of prophesy that had come upon her, St. Quilisinda then prophesied that one of the convent’s opponents would soon die (which happened, and allows her death to be dated). Next, she sang a “sweet melody,” chanting more. She then told one of the other nuns that she should go away and go confess immediately, because she had the trash of sin on her soul.
She also had visions of all the women from their convent who’d gone to heaven, and greeted them, wondering that the bystanders did not see them in their white robes, including the blood sister of one of the other nuns who was present.
Then when she died, everyone else in the room heard angels singing. (This was reported several times at the monastery when saintly women died, including at the deaths of St. Sisitrud and St. Landeberga.)
Her feast days are June 20 (at Faremoutiers before the French Revolution), January 20 (in the old Benedictine calendar), and August 22 (in the current Roman calendar).
So as of Thursday, have a happy St. Willesuinda’s Day!
[This post has been updated to reflect better info about St. Quilisinda!]