Saint Veronica Giuliani

Saint Veronica Giuliani, O.S.C. Cap., (Veronica de Julianis) (December 27, 1660 – July 9, 1727) was an Italian Capuchin nun and mystic. She was canonized by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839.

She was born Orsola [Ursula] Giuliani at Mercatello in the Duchy of Urbino in December 27, 1660. Her parents, Francesco Giuliana and Benedetta Mancini, were both of genteel birth.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Ursula showed signs of sanctity from an early age. It is told that at the age of three years Ursula supposedly began to show great compassion for the poor. She would set apart a portion of her food for them, and even part with her clothes when she met a poor child scantily clad.

When others did not readily join in her religious practices she was inclined to be dictatorial. At the age of 16, she experienced a vision which corrected this imperfection of character: 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. 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.

In 1677, at the age of 17, Ursula was received into the monastery of the Capuchin branch of the Poor Clares in Città di Castello in Umbria, Italy, taking the name of Veronica in memory of the Passion. At the conclusion of the ceremony of her reception, the bishop said to the abbess: "I commend this new daughter to your special care, for she will one day be a great saint." 

Veronica became absolutely submissive to the will of her spiritual directors, though her novitiate was marked by extraordinary interior trials and temptations to return to the world. In her first years in the monastery, she worked in the kitchen, infirmary and sacristy and also served as portress. At the age of 34, she was made novice mistress, a position she held for 22 years.

For fifty years Ursula Giuliani lived as Sister Veronica in the Capuchin convent of Città di Castello in Umbria, Italy. With gritty determination tempered by humility, she led her sisters as novice mistress for thirty-four years and as abbess for eleven. St. Veronica governed the convent with obvious common sense and guided the novices with prudence. She would not allow them to read mystical books, requiring them instead to study books on Christian basics. In 1716, she was elected abbess. As a practical woman, she improved her sisters’ comfort by enlarging the convent rooms and having water piped inside.

Veronica had a lifelong devotion to Christ crucified that eventually became manifested in physical signs. The marks of the crown of thorns appeared on her forehead in 1694 and the five wounds on her body in 1697. Veronica was humiliated by the stigmata itself and by her bishop’s rigorous testing of her experience. He removed the saint from ordinary community life and put her under constant observation. When he decided that the phenomena were authentic, he allowed her to return to normal convent life and continue her service to her sisters.

She died on July 9, 1727, at Città di Castello.


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