Saint of the day – 28 December – Blessed Matthia de Nazzarei OSC (1253-1319) Virgin, Nun of the Poor Clares, Abbess, gifted with the charism of miracles and prophecy – born on 1 March 1253 in Matelica, Macerata, Italy and died on 28 December 1319 in Matelica, Macerata, Italy of natural causes. Also known as Mattia, Matthias Nazarei. Her body is incorrupt. Patronage – Matelica, Italy.
Matthia’s life mirrored that of St Clare in many respects besides simply sharing the same life and charism. She ran away to a Monastery at a tender age, immediately sheared her tresses and donned the habit, resisted the drastic attempts of her relatives to remove her and served as Abbess for 46 years.
Blessed Matthia, whose name is derived from the Hebrew meaning “given by God,” was born to aristocratic Italian parents in 1253. Perhaps the significance of this year escaped her parents at the time but every Poor Clare remembers, this was the year St Clare died. Little did anyone know that this little baby would grow up to emulate that great but simple Abbess.
An only child, Matthia grew up, according to one account, “humble and intelligent,” a rare and attractive combination. She preferred a simple life and rejected all pomp of court life that demonstrated what she felt was excessive wealth. Naturally, her parents hoped to arrange a successful marriage in the world for her. But she spent long hours in the Chapel of the local Benedictine Monastery and eventually decided this life of penance was her calling.
At the age of eighteen a marriage was arranged for her. When she heard this, she left her home and fled to the Benedictine Convent of Santa Maddalena at Matalica. It was there that she became a Benedictine nun and served as its Abbess for four decades from 1279.
She feared her father’s retribution for her fleeing and remained hidden until he found her. But her father was so impressed with her that he allowed her to remain and the two reconciled. She took her solemn profession on 10 August 1271. The Convent later adopted the rule of the Poor Clares.
Considerable work was done during her term – the Convent and Chapel were both rebuilt – but the interior work she did for souls by her charitable service far surpassed any earthly accomplishment, however monumental. She also possessed the charisms of healing, prophecy and even turning spoiled wine into the best vintage.
When her end drew near, she told her sisters, “It is time to go to the Father.” Then after exhorting her community to faithfulness to their chosen way of life, she said, “God is love!” and commended her soul to God. She died on 28 December 1319 in Matelica. The Convent was renamed “Beata Matthias” in her honour in 1758. She was reinterred near the high altar of her Convent Chapel and was exhumed in 1536. It was found incorrupt and also was seen sweating. The remains were again exhumed in 1756 and still found to be incorrupt and is on display for veneration in the Chapel.
She was Beatified on 27 July 1765 after developing a pious following. Napoleon’s troops stole her incorrupt body in 1811 but it was returned a few months later to Matelica, where it rests to this day. In 1972, a sample from the red liquid that periodically comes forth from her body underwent a hematological study. It was found to be human blood.
Many miracles have been worked through this blood over the centuries. Today a case has been ratified locally, on 14 November 2014 and has now been sent to the Congregation of the Causes of Saints and is being examined.