Beautiful, clever, and the daughter of a king (Louis VIII of France), Princess Isabel was destined for a life of pomp and luxury. But her heart was drawn elsewhere. When her frequent fasts and austerity cause her to fall ill, her mother consulted a holy woman, who told her that when Isabel recovered she should be considered as dead to the whole world. So it was. Isabel refused all proposal of marriage – even when urged on her by Pope Innocent IV, who said that her marriage would serve the good of Christendom. She insisted on serving God before all else.
Increasingly, Isabel felt attracted to the Franciscan movement that was sweeping Europe. At dinner each day she would welcome a number of poor people, whom she waited on personally. In the evenings she would leave the palace to visit the sick. When her brother Louis ascended the throne, he agreed to support her plan to establish a Franciscan convent in Longchamps. St. Bonaventure himself helped to devise its rule. It was called the Monastery of the Humility of the Virgin Mary.
Isabel did not formally join the enclosed community. Instead, she lived in quarters separate from the nuns and continued to wear secular clothing, while devoting herself to prayer and contemplation. SHe died in 1270.