04 Jan Saint Angela of Foligno, Widow
Today is the feast day of Saint Angela of Foligno. Ora pro nobis.
Saint Angela of Foligno was born in 1248 of a prominent family in Foligno, three leagues from Assisi.
There was nothing remarkable about Angela’s early years, and there was nothing scandalous about her life. Yet she tells us in her later writings that for over thirty years she led a mortally sinful life. Perhaps she was referring to the pride and comfort of a wealthy and fashionable existence, for she came from a family of great property, married well, and afterwards ruled a large household of children and servants. As she describes her conversion, it reads like the story of many a soul today. Fear of her damnation led her to the confessional one day. But she was afraid to tell her most serious sins, and so made a bad confession, then a sacrilegious Communion. Only greater remorse followed. Tormented in soul, she prayed to Saint Francis of Assisi, and he appeared to her in a vision.
Shortly after this initial vision, Saint Angela’s remaining family members (husband, mother, and children) died, and she fully converted to Christ. Angela joined the Third Order of Saint Francis, and grew a large community committed to poverty, chastity, and obedience and serving the poor of the community. Throughout her life, Angela continued to experience mystical visions during her deep and reverent prayer. She came to record her conversion and visions in the Book of Visions and Instructions, and based on this work came to be known as the “Mistress of Theologians.”
She was a soul whom God chose to fulfill the role of a mystic. Her confessor recorded from her own lips the visions and ecstasies that were granted to her with startling frequency. For Angela the whole world was filled with God, and she was in almost constant communion with Him. Yet we would misunderstand the interior life of this mystic, or any other, for that matter, if we imagine that her life was without pain, without constant suffering.
Angela herself tells us that at times she was overcome with grief because she could see nothing but the extraordinary goodness of God and, in contrast, the vanity of earthly things and the ingratitude of creatures. The sight of a crucifix produced in Saint Angela torrents of tears.
She obtained a marvelous insight into divine things and was very frequently found in ecstasy. For many years Holy Communion was her only food, until at last, completely purified, she entered into the eternal joy of the Supreme Good on January 4, 1310.
Pope Innocent XII approved the continual devotion paid to her at her tomb in Foligno. He beatified her in 1693. Pope Francis extended the veneration to all the Church on 9 October 2013, declaring her a saint by the procedure of equivocal canonization, recognizing the validity of the long-held veneration of her.
Image: Angela of Foligno, circa: XVIIth century print
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff