Saint Ulphia, Hermit of Saint-Acheul
January 31 is the Commemoration of Saint Ulphia, Hermit of Saint-Acheul
“Ulphia (Ulphe, Olfe, Wulfe, Wolfia, Wulfia) of Amiens (d. 8th century) is a saint of the Catholic Church, venerated particularly at Amiens. She was said to be a young girl living on the banks of the Noye who became a hermit at Saint-Acheul, near Amiens, under the spiritual direction of Saint Domitius (Domice).
At the end of her life, she formed and directed a community of religious women at Amiens. Her feast day is January 31.
Legend states that Ulphe placed the frogs in the area around her hermitage (which was built in a swampy area) under interdict as a result of their loud croaking, which kept her awake at nights. Thus, in her iconography, she is depicted as a young nun seated in prayer on a rock with a frog in the pool near her.
A 19th century hagiographer noted that the frogs in the area around the oratory of Saint Ulphe were, indeed, very quiet. However, if these frogs were taken elsewhere, they became boisterous once again.
A statue of Ulphia stands in the portal of Amiens Cathedral and a painting of Ulphia with Saint Domitius by the nineteenth century painter, Jean de Franqueville, hangs inside the cathedral.”
“Hermitess, also called Wulfe and Wulfia. She lived as a recluse near Amiens, France, spending many years as a disciple of St. Domitius at Sr. Acheul Abbey. When disciples began to build hermitages around her, Ulphia organized them into a community. She then resumed her eremetical life alone.
Saint Ulphia was a solitary at Saint-Acheul near Amiens under the spiritual direction of Saint Domitius. Towards the end of her life, she formed and directed a community at Amiens. The convent of Paraclete was built over her tomb. In art, Saint Ulphia is a young nun seated in prayer on a rock with a frog in the pool near her (Roeder). She is venerated at Amiens, France.”
“This is another story of a friendship leading to perfect love of God. Not far from Amiens, in northern France, there is a small river called the Noye which, after flowing through some low-lying and marshy ground, joins another small river called the Avre. Together they then join the River Somme and flow down to the sea. They have been there since the beginning of time, and they will probably be there at the end of time.
In the 8th century there lived on the banks of the Noye a young girl named Ulphia who was filled with longing to lead a life of perfection. At the same time there lived on the banks of the Avre a deacon of the church of Amiens named Domitius, who was no less eager for the same perfection. Their hermitages were barely a mile apart, and Ulphia often sought the counsel of Domitius, who instructed her in the great prayers of the Church and led her to God. Their ‘mystic life in common’ lasted for 30 years, from about 730 to 760.
The legend speaks of ‘a good and ancient man whose beard and hair were as white as snow,’ and who walked with a staff to support ‘his great age and infirmity.’ The friendship that bound him to the holy girl who was less than half his age must have seemed strange to the people who lived nearby. It is said that Domitius once silenced all the frogs in a pond, but perhaps the frogs were human–men and women, whose tongues were set wagging by the story of the two hermits. And if Domitius succeeded in silencing them, then it was a far greater miracle than silencing a few small creatures.
They used to go together on foot to recite the Office in what was then the cathedral of Amiens. It was a mutual exchange of services: Ulphia tended Domitius, and Domitius rewarded his devout daughter by teaching and explaining to her the Holy Scriptures. “They were,” says the legend, “of a like will and spirit, chaste and devout.”
Their lives were like the two rivers on whose banks they lived, two rivers which flowed through marshes and swamps and then joined together and flowed to the sea. Ulphia passed through the marshes of this world and entrusted herself to Domitius. Their course together was one of prayer, penitence, solitude, and self-forgetfulness that, after 30 years, eventually brought them to their triumphal entry into paradise. As the two rivers flowed together, so did their lives, and as the waters of the rivers were finally united with the sea, so were they finally united with God. “He who drinks of the water I shall give him,” says Our Lord, “will not thirst””