Friday, July 9, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Veronica Giuliani

St. Veronica was born in Italy in 1660, the daughter of the wealthy couple Francesco Giuliani and Benedetta Mancini. The child was baptised Ursula Giuliani. Her first words were spoken at the age of eighteen months when she said to a crooked merchant "Do justice, God sees you." At the age of three she began to receive visions from Our Lord. Throughout her youth she was known to be a pious child though she was prone to anger, especially when others did not readily join in her religious practices, at which times she could also become quite domineering. She finally recognized these imperfections when, at the age of sixteen, she received a vision of her own heart as a heart of steel. From then on she worked to correct these faults. She also confessed in her writings to a great pleasure in the worldly things which she enjoyed in her parents' home.

However, Ursula had long been resolved to enter the religious life despite her father's desire for her to marry. When he began to bring suitors to her the girl fell ill causing her father to relent and give his blessing to her call to the religious life.

In 1677, at the age of 17, Ursula Giuliani entered the convent of the Capuchin Poor Clares in Citt' di Castello, Italy. She took, at this time, the name of Veronica, in memory of Christ's Passion. Throughout her novitiate, Veronica suffered great temptations to return to the world. Soon after her profession of vows in 1678, at which she started to desire to share Christ's sufferings for the conversion of sinners, Veronica began to experience a severe pain in her heart. After her death an image of the Cross was found imprinted on her heart. The pain this caused was a prelude to a life spent in suffering for the conversion of sinners. Fifteen years after first experiencing this pain Veronica received a vision of the chalice which represented "the Divine Passion which was to be re-enacted in her own soul. At first she shrank from accepting it and only by great effort eventually submitted. She then began to endure intense spiritual suffering." One year later she received the first of the stigmata, the imprint of the crown of thorns about her head. In obedience to the Bishop, Sister Veronica submitted to medical treatment but obtained no relief. She also had to undergo scrutiny from Church authorities (in order to ascertain that this was in fact a mystical occurence) which increased when, on Good Friday 1697, she received the complete stigmata: the wounds of Christ in her hands, feet, and side.

Despite her mystical experiences, Sister Veronica was known to be a highly practical woman. While serving as novice mistress in the convent she refused to allow the young women to read anything related to mysticism, "insisting that they become practical brides of Christ." Later, as abbess of her house, Sister Veronica enlarged the convent and had a system of water-pipes installed.

Sister Veronica died of natural causes on July 9, 1727 at the convent. Her body remains incorrupt. She was canonized on May 26, 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI.

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