In today's general audience, celebrated in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke about St. Veronica Giuliani, a Capuchin Poor Clare the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of whose birth falls on 27 December.
Born in the Italian town of Mercatello in 1660, "she was the last of seven sisters of whom three others also embraced the monastic life", the Pope explained. She was christened with the name of Ursula and at the age of seventeen entered the convent of Capuchin Poor Clares in Citta Castello where she spent the rest of her life. There she was given the name of Veronica, "and a year later pronounced her solemn religious profession. Thus began her configuration to Christ through a journey of great penance and suffering, and a number of mystical experiences associated with Jesus' Passion. ... In 1716, at the age of fifty-six, she became abbess of her convent, remaining in that position until 1727 when she died following a painful agony of thirty-three days". She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory XVI on 26 May 1839.
The main source for St. Veronica's life is her diary of some 22,000 handwritten pages, the Pope said. "Hers was a markedly Christological-spousal spirituality. This is the experience of being loved by Christ, the faithful and sincere Bridegroom, and of wishing to respond with an increasingly committed and impassioned love".
Veronica "offered her prayers and sacrifices for the Pope, bishops, priests and all people in need including souls in Purgatory". She also "participated profoundly in the tormented love of Jesus, ... even asking to be crucified with Him", said Benedict XVI.
He then highlighted how the saint "was convinced that she was already participating in the Kingdom of God, but at the same time she invoked all the saints of heaven to help her on the earthly journey of her oblation, as she awaited eternal beatitude. This was the constant aspiration of her life", the Pope remarked.
"The high points of Veronica's mystical experience were never removed from the events of salvation as celebrated in the liturgy, where pride of place is given to proclaiming and listening to the Word of God. Sacred Scripture, then, illuminated, purified and confirmed Veronica's experience, making it ecclesial. ... Indeed, she not only expressed herself with the words of Sacred Scripture, but also lived by them".
"Veronica", the Holy Father went on, "was in particular a courageous witness of the beauty and power of divine Love. ... She also experienced a profoundly intimate relationship with the Virgin Mary".
"St. Veronica Giuliani invites us, in our lives as Christians, to fortify our union with the Lord, abandoning ourselves to His will with complete and total trust, and our union with the Church, the Bride of Christ. She invites us to participate in the tormented love of the crucified Jesus, for the salvation of all sinners. She invites us to fix our gaze on heaven, the goal of our earthly journey where we will live ... the joy of full communion with God. She invites us to draw daily nourishment from the Word of God so as to warm our hearts and guide our lives. The last words of the saint", Benedict XVI concluded, "may be considered as the summary of her impassioned mystical experience: 'I have found Love! Love has let itself be seen'".
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