Today (10th July) is the Feast of St Veronica Giuliani, Capuchin Poor Clare sister (Yes, besides the Capuchin friars, there are also Capuchinesses!). She is remembered particularly for having received the stigmata - bearing the wounds of Christ's crucifixion in her body - and having experienced other mystical phenomena. You can read about her life here (it's a good idea to read the lives of the saints! When St Veronica was a little girl at home, her family would read the life of a saint each night, and this helped inspire the young girl to aspire to the holiness of becoming a saint herself!)
This great saint can inspire us in many ways, but perhaps today we can focus on just a couple of things for our own journey towards holiness, seeking God and His will for us:
- Her life was one of severe austerity, penance and mortification - some of which she later reflected were the "crazy things that love made me do". Whilst I'm not recommending that we imitate some of the things she did, it is very important that we don't completely lose the place of penance in our lives. When we're actively doing some sort of penance, we're denying ourselves something - it's a type of purification, a kind of antidote to a culture of excess that takes the "me" out of the centre. This is very important for opening us up to what God wants for us. St Veronica said that "to suffer with joy is the key to love".
- A second thing is that she reminds us of the importance of having solidarity with all for the salvation of all. After receiving a vision of hell, she strenuously resolved to unite herself to Christ - to make herself a victim - so that sinners may be saved from having to go there. She was willing to suffer anything, seeking always the conversion of sinners. So despite the fact she spent 50 years as an enclosed nun, she was a great missionary who spent her life for the Church and the conversion of sinners with great missionary zeal - very different to her contemporaries who were focussed on the salvation of the individual. Do we live, pray and suffer for all our brothers and sisters?
- To do this we too must have a deep love for Christ Crucified and a desire to enter into His heart which spent itself for the salvation of souls. This desire to spend oneself for one's brothers and sisters is at the heart of a religious/missionary vocation.
May St Veronica, who prayed and suffered so devotedly for the salvation of souls while on earth, intercede for us with that same love now in heaven!