St. Juliana Falconieri, Virgin
THE ILLUSTRIOUS family of Falconieri in Italy received great honour from the sanctity of this holy virgin. Her father, Charissimus Falconieri, and his pious lady, Reguardata, were both advanced in years, and seemed to have lost all hopes of issue, when in 1270 they were wonderfully blessed with the birth of our saint. Devoting themselves afterwards solely to the exercises of religion, they built and founded at their own expense the stately church of the Annunciation of our Lady in Florence, which for riches and the elegance of the structure, may at this day be ranked among the wonders of the world. B. Alexius Falconieri, the only brother of Charissimus, and uncle of our saint, was with St. Philip Beniti, one of the seven first propagators and pillars of the Order of Servites, or persons devoted to the service of God under the special patronage of the Virgin Mary. Juliana in her infancy seemed almost to anticipate the ordinary course of nature in the use of reason, by her early piety; and the first words she learned to pronounce were the sacred names, Jesu, Maria. Fervent prayer and mortification chiefly took up her attention at an age which seems usually scarcely capable of any thing serious. Such was her angelical modesty, that she never durst lift up her eyes to look any man in the face; and so great was her horror of sin that the very name of it made her almost fall into a swoon. 1
In the sixteenth year of her age, despising whatever seemed not conducive to virtue, she bid adieu to all worldly thoughts and pleasures, renounced her great estate and fortune, and the better to seek the inestimable jewel of the gospel, she consecrated her virginity to God, and received from the hands of St. Philip Beniti the religious veil of the Mantellatæ. The religious men among the Servites are called the first Order. St. Philip Beniti constituted his second Order, which is that of the nuns, in favour of certain devout ladies. The Mantellatæ are a third Order of the Servites, and take their name from a particular kind of short sleeves which they wear, as fittest for their work. They were instituted to serve the sick, and for other offices of charity, and at the beginning were not obliged to strict inclosure. Of this third Order St. Juliana was, under the direction of St. Philip, the first plant; and as she grew up, the great reputation of her prudence and sanctity drawing to her many devout ladies, who desired to follow the same institute, she was obliged to accept the charge of prioress. Though she was the spiritual mother of the rest, she made it her delight and study to serve all her sisters. She often spent whole days in prayer, and frequently received great heavenly favours. She never let slip any opportunity of performing offices of charity towards her neighbours, especially of reconciling enemies, reclaiming sinners, and serving the sick. She sucked the most nauseous ulcers of scorbutic patients and lepers; by which means the sores are cleansed without the knife, or painful pressure of the surgeon’s hand, and a cure rendered more easy. By an imitation of this mortification and charity, do many pious religious persons, who attend the hospitals of the poor, gain an heroic victory over themselves. Saint Juliana practised incredible austerities. In her old age she was afflicted with various painful distempers, which she bore with inexpressible cheerfulness and joy. One thing afflicted her in her last sickness, that she was deprived of the comfort and happiness of uniting her soul with her divine Spouse in the sacrament of the altar, which she was not able to receive by reason that her stomach, by continually vomiting, could not retain any food. The sacred host however was brought into her cell, and there suddenly disappeared out of the hands of the priest. After her death the figure of the host was found imprinted on the left side of her breast; by which prodigy it was judged that Christ had miraculously satisfied her languishing holy desire. She died in her convent at Florence in the year 1340, of her age seventy. Miracles have been frequently effected through her intercession, among which several have been juridically proved. Pope Benedict XIII. enrolled her name among the blessed in 1729. His successor, Clement XII. put the last hand to her canonization. 1 Her Order is propagated in Italy and Austria. See Bonanni’s History of the Founders of Religious Orders, t. 2. Giani, in her life, and Papebroke, in his Appendix, t. 3. Junij. p. 923. 2
Note 1. Bullar, Rom. t. 15, p. 141. [back]
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VI: June.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.