Saints Index

Jul 10 - St. Veronica Giuliani 1660-1727

 Veronica 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 unusual.

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 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.

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.

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?
3. 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 penance.

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.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., 1959 Franciscan Herald Press