Today is the feast day of Saint Veronica Giuliani. Ora pro nobis.
Saint Veronica Giuliani was born of devout parents at Mercatello in Italy. Her parents, Francesco Giuliana and Benedetta Mancini, were both of gentle birth. In baptism she was named Ursula, and showed marvelous signs of sanctity. When but eighteen months old she uttered her first words to upbraid a shopman who was serving a false measure of oil, saying distinctly: “Do justice, God sees you.” At the age of three years she began to be favoured with Divine communications, and to show great compassion for the poor.
As a child she, too, was of a devout disposition, but inclined to be quite irritable.
In her sixteenth year this imperfection of character was brought home to her in a vision in which she saw her own heart as a heart of steel. In her writings she confesses that she took a certain pleasure in the more stately circumstances which her family adopted when her father was appointed superintendent of finance at Piacenza. But this did not in any way affect her early-formed resolution to dedicate herself to religion, although her father urged her to marry and procured for her several suitors as soon as she became of marriageable age. Owing to her father’s opposition to her desire to enter a convent, Veronica fell ill and only recovered when he gave his consent.
At the age of 17, Veronica entered the convent of the Capuchin nuns at Citta di Castello in Umbria, where the rule of St Clare was observed. Imbued with sincere humility she considered herself the lowliest member of the community. At the same time she greatly edified all by her obedience and love of poverty and mortification. Sometimes she was favored with interior conversations and revelations. She resolved that she would reveal all such matters to her superiors and her confessor. She had neglected to do that when she was still in the world, and as a result she had often been misled by the father of lies.
When Veronica had spent 17 years in various offices in her community, she was entrusted with the guidance of the novices. She endeavored to imbue them with the spirit of simplicity and to lay a firm foundation for humility. She directed them to the truths of the Faith and the rules of the order as their safest guides on the way of perfection, and warned them against reading idly speculative books as well as against everything unusual.
In 1693 she entered upon a new phase in her spiritual life, when she had a vision of the chalice symbolizing the Divine Passion which was to be re-enacted in her own soul. At first she shrank from accepting it and only be great effort eventually submitted. She then began to endure intense spiritual suffering. In 1694 she received the impression of the Crown of Thorns, the wounds being visible and the pain permanent. By order of the bishop she submitted to medical treatment, but obtained no relief.
After careful examination of the matters, the bishop sent a report to Rome. Then Rome appointed a commission, which was to put her humility to the severest test, in order to determine whether she was an imposter, a person deluded by the devil, or a person favored by God.
Veronica was deposed from her office as novice mistress, and deprived of every suffrage in the community. She was even imprisoned in a remote cell. No sisters were permitted to talk to her, and a lay sister who was made her warden was ordered to treat her like a deceiver. Finally, she was even deprived of Holy Communion and was permitted to attend holy Mass only on Sundays and holy days near the door of the church.
At the conclusion of these trials, the bishop reported to Rome that she scrupulously obeyed every one of his ordinances, and showed not the least sign of sadness amid all his harsh treatment, but rather an inexpressible peace and joy of spirit.
The test had proved the admirable manifestations to be the work of God, but Veronica did not on that account deem herself a saint, but rather a great sinner, whom God was leading on the way to conversion by means of His holy wounds.
In 1716 she was elected abbess.
Purified more and more by many sufferings, to which she added many austere mortifications, she went to her eternal reward on July 9, 1727, after spending 50 years in the convent.
The saint’s body remained incorrupt for many years until it was destroyed in a flood. Her bones are now kept in a composite figure of the saint, the skull of which is covered with wax. Her heart, though, is still incorrupt, and is kept in a separate reliquary.
Because of her heroic virtues and the many miracles that were continually being worked at her tomb, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839. (1,4)
Image: Crop of Santa Verónica Giuliani (5)