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Hidden saints

I love it when I come across the quiet saints who have never become globally famous. Today in the Carmelite calendar we celebrate Blessed Archangela Girlani. I notice that this saint was alive and kicking in the second half of the Fifteenth Century, a period when the Church, according to its enemies, had succumbed to a tide of corruption.

She was born Eleanora Girlani in 1460 at Trino, on Monte Ferrato in northern Italy to a noble family. Having her early education with the Benedictines, she had intended to become a Benedictine nun but on her way to the convent, her horse refused to take her there. She interpreted this as a sign and along with her two sisters, Maria and Frances (Scholastica), she took the Carmelite habit in the monastery of Parma in 1477 at the age of 17 where she took the name Archangela. She eventually became prioress of the monastery at Parma, and then prioress at the new foundation at Mantua from 1492 until her death. She was often seen rapt in ecstasy while meditating on the mysteries of the faith. Blessed Archangela was reported to have lived her religious life so intensely that she and the other nuns lived here on earth as if already absorbed into heaven.

She became fatally ill in her third year as prioress of Mantua. With her eyes fixed on an image of the Crucified Christ, she repeated her frequently uttered words, 'Jesus, my Love’ and peacefully gave up her soul on January 25, 1495.

I love it that she took the name of 'Archangel' - not a common name as far as I am aware even among professed religious. I love the story of her horse refusing to take her to the Benedictines (God bless them!). And her dying words are reminiscent of Pope Benedict XVI, whose last words were reportedly "Jesus, I love you!"

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