Saint of the Day – 31 May – Saint Camilla Battista da Varano OSC (1458-1524) Italian Princess, Virgin, Poor Clare Nun and Abbess, Mystic, Spiritual Writer, Stigmatist – born on 9 April 1458 in Camerino, Macerata, Italy and died on 31 May 1524 in Camerino, Macerata, Italy of natural causes.
Camilla Battista was born into nobility in Camerino, Italy on 9 April 1458. As a Princess in the home of her father Duke Giulio Cesare da Varano she grew up in the court and received a good education.
Around the age of 9 she listened to a sermon on Good Friday preached by Domenico of Leonessa, a Franciscan friar who later became one of her confessors. He ended his sermon by encouraging his listeners to shed one teardrop for the Passion of Christ. She resolved to show her love for Jesus by shedding a tear each Friday. Though not initially drawn to the spiritual life, she persevered in her vow and would squeeze out a tear before running off to play. She found a booklet that contained a meditation on the Passion of Christ divided into 15 parts to be prayed like a rosary. She began to pray this devotion each Friday while on her knees before a Crucifix. Other spiritual practices like fasting and night vigils began to attract her even though she continued to spend time in the youthful pursuits of court life.
During Lent of 1479 a sermon she heard touched her deeply, inspiring her to take a private vow of chastity. Her father initially opposed her desire to enter religious life as he wanted her to marry. She wanted to enter the Poor Clare Monastery in Urbino. Her spiritual life deepened during the few years before she actually entered the Monastery. She wrote Lauda (Praises) during this time – a work in which she expressed the joy she felt in knowing that Jesus loved her.
On 24 November 1481 she entered the Poor Clare Monastery in Urbino and made her profession in 1483. Early in 1484, she transferred to the new Monastery of Santa Maria Nuova at Camerino which was close to her father’s castle. Her father had made arrangements with the Pope and the Vicar General of the Friars to have her moved there. She was reluctant to do so and went only under obedience.
While living in the Monastery in Urbino, she experienced visions and composed several other spiritual works. She was elected Abbess in 1500. The following year, due to political disagreements, her father and her brothers were killed and she was forced to flee to the Abruzzo region until 1503 when she felt safe to return to Camerino. She founded a Monastery in Fermo and trained a group of nuns in San Severino Marche who adopted the Rule of St Clare.
She died in her Monastery in Camerino during a plague on 31 March 1524, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, at the age of 66. Her remains were placed to rest in the crypt of the Monastery of the Poor Clares of Camerino.
St Camilla wrote with equal facility in Latin and Italian and who was accounted one of the most accomplished scholars of her day. The Major Works of St Camilla Battista da Varano are:
Praises of the Visions of Christ, 1479 – 1481
Remembrances of Jesus, 1483
Treatise on the Mental Sufferings of Jesus Christ our Lord, 1488
The Spiritual Life, 1491 (Autobiography)
Her Autobiography from 1466-1491 which is considered a “jewel of art” and of the spiritual life. In this work, she describes how two Seraphim with wings of gold, appeared to her because they were assigned to help her understand the mysterious working of unitive love.
“Two angels came to me, dressed in resplendent white garments which I have seen only worn by Jesus. They had wings of gold. One of them took my soul from the right side, the other from the left side and they elevated it in the air, laying it down near the crucified feet of the Son of God made Man. This state lasted about two months almost continually, I seem to walk, to speak and do what I wished, deprived however of my soul. It remained there where the two Angels had placed it but they never abandoned it.
…They (the celestial spirits) declared to me, that they were so intimate with God that God is not ever separated from them. They also explained to me, that the Seraphim were likewise united to the Cherubim, in that none of them could ever go without the other to a soul.” – Camilla Varano, The Spiritual Life
Both Saint Philip Neri and St Alphonsus Liguori recorded their admiration for her.
On 8 April 1821 Pope Leo XIII approved the acts of the process for her Canonisation. She was Beatified by Pope Gregory XVI on 7 April 1843, following recognition of her long-standing public cult. On 4 February 1893 her writings were also approved. On 17 October 2010 Pope Benedict XVI Canonised her, along with five others.
Prayer for the Intercession of
St Camilla Battista da Varano
Holy and Blessed Trinity,
You granted Camilla Battista the ability
to live as a true daughter of the Father,
to adhere to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and to allow herself to be moulded
by the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Grant me the grace to imitate her example
and to make, of my life,
a reflection of her beauty
and of her sanctity.
Grant me, I pray,
through the intercession of Saint Camilla Battista,
this grace that I ask
(here state the favour you are requesting) Amen
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…