was born of devout parents at Mercatello in Italy. As a child she, too, was of
a devout disposition, but inclined to be quite irritable, and, as she herself
admits, would stamp her feet at the least provocation.
Her mother died when Veronica was only four years
old. In her last moments she assigned each of her five children to one of the
five wounds of Christ and bade them take their refuge there whenever they were
troubled. Veronica was the youngest. She was assigned to the wound in the side
of our Lord, and from that time on her heart became more tempered.
Co-operating with the grace of God, her soul gradually went through a refining
process by which she became an object of admiration in later years.
When Veronica came of age, her father believed she
should marry, and so he desired her to take part in the social activities of
the young people. But she had been made aware of another call, and she pleaded
so earnestly with her father that, after much resistance, he finally permitted
her to choose her own state in life.
At the age of 17, then, the young woman entered the
convent of the Capuchin nuns at Citta di Castello in Umbria, where the
primitive 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
Meanwhile, extraordinary things were beginning to
happen to her. On Good Friday she received the stigmata, and later the Crown
of Thorns was impressed on her head amid untold sufferings. 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. She 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
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.
Having filled the office of novice mistress during
a space of 22 years, Veronica was unanimously elected abbess. Only in
obedience could she be prevailed upon to accept the responsibility.
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. 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.
ON THE MARKS OF HUMILITY
1. Consider the marks
of humility as evident in the life of St. Veronica. She considered herself the
lowliest of her sisters. He who is truly humble reflects upon his misery and
weakness. He acknowledges that whatever good there is in him has been given to
him by God, and that according to the measure of His gifts to him he ought to
have achieved much greater perfection. Veronica, therefore, was sincere in
believing that she was the least among her fellow sisters, just as St. Francis
sis, and before his day St. Paul, who said: "Christ Jesus came into this world
so save sinners, of whom I and the chief" (1 Tim 1:15). For the same reason,
the humble man never rates his opinion over that of others, his merits above
those of others, nor his abilities above other people's abilities. In his
humility he considers others as being above him, and cheerfully takes the
lowest place. -- Are these traits evident in you?
2. Consider how the
humility of Veronica was tested by extraordinary humiliations. The evil spirit
as well as our evil self-love can conjure up great things before a person, but
neither of them can stand the test of humility. To endure humiliations is the
way to humility and also an evidence of how much of it we possess. No matter
how much they hurt human nature, the soul that wishes to become humble will
say with the prophet: "It is good for me that thou hast humbled me" (Psalm
118:71). The more calmly and joyfully a person accepts humiliation, the
greater progress has he made in humility. -- At what degree of humility have
you arrived? Do you at least earnestly desire to acquire this virtue?
Consider that humility, which is the root of all other virtues, will also be
evident in these virtues. If these virtues flourish and produce good fruit, it
is a sure sign that humility is deeply rooted in the soul. There are
especially three virtues that manifest the measure of our humility; they are
patience, obedience, and mortification. The truly humble person calmly accepts
adversities as his due; moreover, he is patient with himself and is not
disturbed over his weakness and misery, which he has long since recognized. He
takes pleasure in being guided by obedience and protected against his own
frailty. And because he recognizes that he has been guilty in more points than
one, he seeks to make satisfaction by penance and mortification. St. Veronica
regarded the stigmata as a penance for her sins. We who are sinners can hope
to participate in her glory only through the performance of works of
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O Lord Jesus Christ, who
did glorify St. Veronica by the marks of Thy suffering, grant us the grace to
crucify our flesh and thus become worthy of attaining to the joys of eternity.
Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
The Franciscan Book
of Saints, ed. by
Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald