Saint of the Day – 13 February – Blessed Archangela Girlani O.Carm (1460-1494) Virgin, Carmelite Nun, Mystic with the gift of levitation – born Elanor Girliani in 1460 at Trino, on Monte Ferrato in northern Italy and died on 25 January 1494 (aged 33) in Mantua, Milan, Italy. Blessed Archangela founded a new Carmelite monastery in Mantua. Her body is incorrupt.
Eleanor Girlani was born in the small Italian town of Trino (Piedmont). She demonstrated great piety and holiness as a child. Despite her family’s noble heritage, her only ambition in life was to become a Benedictine sister and together with some friends and relatives, she prepared to travel to the monastery of Rocca delle Donne, who had agreed to accept and raise her as a member of the Order. However, this was not to occur . Upon mounting her horse to travel, the animal refused to carry her to the monastery. As this particular horse was one of gentle and obedient spirit, the animal’s refusal to move was interpreted as a sign from the Lord and Eleanor returned home. Despairing, she prayed for guidance and contented herself in her own daily practices of contemplation, penance and service to others.
Eleanor soon encountered a Carmelite monk, who introduced her to the sisters of the Carmelite Order. Understanding this as divine intervention, Eleanor sought admission, and was accepted into the Order on her seventeenth birthday. She lived and served in the convent of Maria Maddalena in Parma, along with her sisters Mary and Scholastica.
Eleanor received the veil as a Carmelite sister at age eighteen, taking the name Archangela as her own. She was made Prioress of the abbey, given her nobility (as was the custom of the time) and became a model of Christian virtue to her sisters. Especially devoted to the Holy Trinity, Archangela spent hours in the chapel praying and contemplating the divinity of the Lord.
Sister Archangela soon was requested to found an additional abbey in Mantua, which was named Santa Maria del Paradiso (The Convent of Mary in Paradise). There, under her direction, sisters of the Order lived as if already absorbed into heaven. The monastery developed a reputation for great holiness, and received many new sisters. As prioress, Archangela experienced great ecstasies, some lasting well over 24 hours and on more than one occasion was discovered by her sisters to be levitating above the ground while contemplating the Holy Trinity. She further performed many miracles.
Only three years after founding the monastery at Mantua, Blessed Archangela fell gravely ill. Strengthened with the Sacraments and with her eyes fixed on an image of the Crucified Christ, she repeated her frequently uttered words: “Jesus, my Love” and peacefully died at the young age of thirty three. In fulfilment of her desire, she was buried in the simplicity of a common grave at the monastery. Three years later, when the tomb was re-opened to commit another sister to the earth, her remains were found incorrupt and exuding the fragrance of holiness. Great miracles were reported and her relics were enclosed in a crystal tomb and placed above the alter at the monastery.
Nearly 300 years after her death, the monastery in Mantua was closed and Archangela’s relics were translated to Trino, where she had been born. Her relics, still venerated today, were placed in the church of Saint Lorenzo. There, her body rests, wearing the habit of Carmelites, in a casket of crystal. Pope Pius IX confirmed her cultus and Beatified her on 1 October 1864.
The life of Blessed Archangela is one of deep faith and commitment to the Lord. Willing to reconsider her own plans for those that the Lord placed before her, Archangela served and followed wherever the Holy Spirit led her.
Father in heaven,
you gave the virgin Blessed Archangela Girlani
particular dedication to the mystery of the eternal Trinity.
Through her prayers
may we taste the delights of Your glory
already here on earth
and look upon You forever in heaven.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.