Saint of the Day – 19 June – St Juliana Falconieri OSM (1270 – 1341) Virgin and Foundress of the Religious Sisters of the Order of Servites, Mystic, apostle of charity – born in 1270 at Florence, Italy and died on 12 June 1341 at Florence, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – sick people, sickness. Her relics lie at the church of San Annunziata in Florence which was built by her father.
Juliana Falconieri was born in answer to prayer, in 1270. Her father built the splendid church of the Annunziata in Florence, while her uncle, Blessed Alexius, became one of the founders of the Servite Order. Under his care Juliana grew up, as he said, more like an angel than a human being. Such was her modesty that she never used a mirror or gazed upon the face of a man during her whole life. The mere mention of sin made her shudder and tremble and once hearing a scandal related she fell into a dead swoon.
Her devotion to the sorrows of Our Lady drew her to the Servants of Mary and, at the age of fourteen, she refused an offer of marriage and received the habit from St Philip Benizi de Damaini (1233-1285) himself, one of the seven holy founders.
Her sanctity attracted many novices, for whose direction she was bidden to draw up a rule and thus with reluctance she became foundress of the “Mantellate”. The Servites’ dress consisted of a black gown, secured by a leather girdle and a white veil. Because the gown had short sleeves to facilitate work, people called the sisters of the new Order “Mantellate.” The sisters devoted themselves especially to the care of the sick and other works of mercy.She was with her children as their servant rather than their mistress, while outside her convent she led a life of apostolic charity, converting sinners, reconciling enemies and healing the sick by sucking with her own lips their ulcerous sores.
She was sometimes rapt for whole days in ecstasy and her prayers saved the Servite Order when it was in danger of being suppressed. She was visited in her last hour by angels in the form of white doves and Jesus Himself, as a beautiful child, crowned her with a garland of flowers. She wasted away through a disease of the stomach, which prevented her taking food. She bore her silent agony with constant cheerfulness, grieving only for the privation of Holy Communion.
At last, when, in her seventieth year, she had sunk to the point of death, she begged to be allowed once more to see and adore the Blessed Sacrament. It was brought to her cell, and reverently laid on a corporal, which was placed over her heart. At this moment she expired and the Sacred Host disappeared. After her death the form of the Host was found stamped upon her heart in the exact spot over which the Blessed Sacrament had been laid. Immediately after her death she was honoured as a saint.
The Servite Order was approved by Pope Martin V in the year 1420. Pope Benedict XIII recognised the devotion long paid to her and granted the Servites permission to celebrate the feast of the Blessed Juliana. Pope Clement XII Canonised her in the year 1737 and extended the celebration of her feast day to the entire Church. Juliana is usually represented in the habit of her Order with a host upon her breast.