Saint Clotilde: How a Queen converted France to Christianity

Discover the life of Saint Clotilde, the devout Catholic Queen who convinced the King of the Franks to convert to christianity.
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Statue of Saint Clotilde at Luxembourg gardens in Paris
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Quick facts
Birth:around 474 in Lyon, Burgundy
Death:3 June 545 at age 71 in city of Tours, Loire Valley
Parents:daughter of King Chilperic II of Burgundy, mother unknown
Marriage and kids:King Clovis I of the Franks (493-511), 5 children
Famous for:Convincing Clovis I to convert to Christianity

Not much is known of Saint Clotilde’s early life. Historians known that she was the daughter of the King of Burgundy, but her mother remains unknown.

But in 493AD, the young princess’s life changed when Clovis I King of the Franks decided to marry her. The young Clotilde was Catholic, which was unusual at the time, as paganism and arianism were the popular religions.

And because Clotilde was Catholic like the Romans, this ensured that he had the support of the Byzantine – Eastern Roman Empire who were also Catholic in his wars against his rivals.

Within a few years of their marriage, Queen Clotilde convinced Clovis to convert to Christianity. This would help Clovis get the Roman Catholic clergy on his side, something that was of vital importance in his quest to unite all the Franks (for what is now the country of France).

King Clovis was baptized on Christmas Day in 508AD in Reims, along with 3000 of his warriors and his two sisters. The Reims cathedral that stands on the spot where he was baptized became one of the most important cathedrals in France.

Reims Cathedral in France
Reims Cathedral on the spot where Clovis was baptized

The adoption of Catholicism by Clovis led to widespread conversion among the Frankish peoples who had previously followed pagan traditions.

Their marriage was considered one of the most important European unions in Christianity. By the 6th century, the marriage of Clovis and Clotilde was made the theme of various stories, songs, and ballads.

Clovis and Clotilde would have 5 children, 4 of whom would grow into adulthood. There was Ingomer who died as a baby, and 3 boys named Clodomir, Childebert, and Clotaire, as well as a girl named Clotaire.

Queen Clotilde was venerated as a saint in around 550AD by the Roman Catholic Church as well as by the Eastern Orthodox Church for the role she played in her husband’s famous conversion to Christianity. She was buried next to her husband at the Abbaye Sainte-Geneviève de Paris.

Clotilde is considered one of the most important saints in France, along with Genevieve, and her husband. And the name Clotilde remains one of the most popular girls’ names in France.


If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more about other important moments in French history. A bientôt!

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