Saint of the Day – 18 January – Blessed Cristina Ciccarelli OSA (1481–1543) Religious of the Order of Saint Augustine, Mystic, Stigmatist, Apostle of the poor, Reformer, she had a had a particular devotion to the Eucharist and to the Passion and Death of Christ, she was granted the gift of Prophecy, visions and levitation – also known as Cristina of Aquila – born on 24 February 1481 at Luco, Abruzzi, Italy as Matthia Ciccarelli and died on 18 January 1543 at Aquileia, Italy of natural causes.
Mattia Ciccarelli was born in 1481 in Luco dei Marsi as the last of six children to Domenico de Pericolo and Maria de Pericolo. An image of the Pieta was kept in the Luco home from which she developed a strong and lifelong devotion to the Passion of Christ. Her parents taught her the importance of constant prayer. Her call to the religious life solidified during her childhood and she decided to enter the religious life as a nun.
In 1492 she was placed under the spiritual direction of the Franciscan priest Vincenzo dell’Aquila and took his advice on joining the Order of Saint Augustine.
Mattia entered the convent of Santa Lucia in Aquileia in June 1505 and assumed the habit and the religious name of “Cristina.” She served as the abbess several times and was noted for being a prophetic figure.
She became revered for her humble outlook as well as for her tender care of the poor. On one occasion – on the Feast of Corpus Christi – she was seen to have levitated and the image of the Eucharist as a host appeared and radiated from her upper chest.
On one Good Friday, she received the stigmata and the pains that Jesus felt until Holy Saturday when the pain subsided. This would be repeated every Friday of her life.
Blessed Cristina had a great devotion to Saint Mark. However, on one occasion Saint Martin of Tours appeared to her and asked why she had a devotion to the latter saint rather than to him – this prompted her to foster a devotion to him too.
Once a man accustomed to cursing, blasphemed Saint Anthony of Padua and she told him to be careful for if he continued to blaspheme she saw a black devil behind him set to choke him for such offences. The man – riding a donkey – did it again and was thrown to the ground where he fractured his skull and broke his neck which led to his death.
Blessed Cristina died in 1543 after a lengthy illness and was interred in the convent of Santa Lucia to the right side of the main altar.
The first biographical account of her life was written in 1595 by the nobleman Giampietro Interverj from l’Aquila and the Belgian Augustinian scholar, Cornelius Curtius, wrote another hagiography, in the Latin language, in Cologne.
Blessed Cristina was Beatified on 15 January 1841, at Saint Peter’s Basilica, Papal States by Pope Gregory XVI.