Monday, May 27, 2024

The Great Cloud of Witnesses

St. Veridiana
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.

St. Veridiana

February 1

Veridiana (Virginia Margaret del Mazziere) (1182 – 1 February 1242) is an Italian saint. Having made pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela and Rome, she then became an anchoress.

Upon returning to Castelfiorentino and feeling a desire for solitude and penance, the villagers built her a small cell contiguous to the oratory of San Antonio. From a small window she attended Mass and spoke with the visitors and received donations of food. She remained secluded there for 34 years under the obedience of a Vallumbrosan abbey.

Like many recluses of her era, it is not certain whether Verdiana belonged to any particular monastic order. The Dominican order appropriated her after her death through the redaction of her vita, but she probably belonged to none of the mendicant orders during her lifetime. One late account suggests that in 1221 she was visited by Francis of Assisi, who admitted her into his Third Order. It is more likely that she was associated with the local monastery in Castelfiorentino, which belonged to the Vallombrosan order. Even this affiliation, however, most likely occurred after her death, as various monastic orders vied for “possession” of yet another popular saint.

Another local tradition holds that upon her death, the bells of Castelfiorentino began to ring unaided by any human hand, unexpectedly and simultaneously. Her memorial falls on February 1.

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