Saint of the Day – 22 May – Saint Humility of Faenza (c 1226–1310) Wife, Mother, Nun – a founder of Vallumbrosan convents and is considered the Founder of the Vallumbrosan Nuns, Wife, Mother Widow, Recluse, spiritual adviser, spiritual writer. Born in 1226 at Faenza, Italy as Rosanna Negusanti and died on 22 May 1310 at Florence, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Rosanna, Humilitas, Umiltà. Patronage- Faenza. Her body is incorrupt.
The Roman Martyrolog states pf her todzy: “In Florence, blessed Umiltà (Rosanna), who, with her husband’s consent, lived for twelve years as a recluse. Aat the request of the Bishop, she then built a Monastery of which she became Abbess and which she associated with the Order of Vallombrosa.”
Her ‘Life’ was written by the contemporary Monk Biagio in c 1330, is contained in the cod. 271 of the Riccardiana Library of Florence; also there is a second ‘Life’ in the cod. 1563 of the same Library. But many other texts of the following centuries, up to the Acts of the Congregation of Rites of 1720, report news concerning her, both as a person, for the writings, for the apostolic processes and for the foundations of ,onasteries connected to her.
Rosanna Negusanti, daughter of the nobles Elimonte and Richelda, was born in Faenza in 1226, the year of the death of the Seraphic Francis of Assisi, 1226.
In 1241 at the age of 15, she lost her father and the following year at 16 she married the nobleman named Ugoletto dei Caccianemici (died 1256). They had two children, but their happiness was very brief for both children
died as soon as they were Baptise. At this time too, her mother, Richelda also died.
But the young woman, she was 24, without becoming discouraged and giving in to despair or distracting herself with the joys of the world, together with her husband Ugoletto decided to retire to religious life, both entering the cloisters of the rectory of St Perpetua. ; Iit was not uncommon in the Middle Ages to witness choices of this kind between two Christian spouses.
And on this occasion Rosanna Negusanti changes her name to Humility; after having miraculously recovered from a serious illness.
In 1254 she left the cloister of the Convent and retired to a cloistered cell built for her at the Vallombrosan Monastery of St Apollinare, founded between 1012 and 1015 by St John Gualberto. (His life here: https://anastpaul.com/2019/07/12/saint-of-the-day-12-july-st-john-gualbert-c-985-1073-the-merciful-knight/)
Here she lived for twelve years, purifying and elevating her spirit with prayers and fasting, alternating them with advice that she gave to those who turned to her for help. Her example attracted some young women from Faenza who asked to build cells near hers and to live under her guidance.
And so in 1266 on the advice of Bishop Petrella, Humility agreed to become the spiritual guide of the new nuns, gathered in the old Monastery of Malta in Vallombrosa, which from then on would be called St Maria Novella.
Humility was now 40 years old, she returned to being a mother full of goodness, wisdom and energy, becoming the guide for the new daughters, directing them on the path of holiness.
Fifteen years passed, putting into practice all the virtues of the Rule of St Benedict and the Vallombrosan Constitutions of St John Gualberto. When she was 55, in 1281, Mother Humilitybegan to build a new spiritual home for the young Florentine girls, whose life was shaken by the struggles between Whites and Blacks, the warring factions in the region. A Cchurch was erected in Florence, in honour of St John the Apostle Evangelist, had as Architect Giovanni Pisano and as Decorator the famous Buffalmacco. It was Consecrated in 1297 by the Bishop Francesco Monaldeschi.
Despite being very sick and elderly, Sister Humilty kept personal contacts with Faenza and Rome to give continuity to the two Monasteries, until after six months of suffering, at the age of 84, she ceased to live in Florence and on 22 May 1310 she entered life.
After a year on 6 June 1311, her body was exhumed and although it was buried in the bare earth, under the floor of the Church, it was incorrupt. She was dressed in precious clothes and from then on, she had an uninterrupted cult. Her body was later transferred to the Monasteries of St Caterina, of St Antonio (1529), of San Salvi (1534), in the 19th century to that of the Spirito Santo of Varlungo near Florence. Finally, in 1972, in the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Bagno a Ripoli, near Florence, where it is still preserved as perfect as it was in 1310.
The spirituality of St Humility can be seen from the few writings that have come down to us, they are a living expression of profound humility and fervent love for God and neighbour. Her cult is very ancient, perhaps it even dates back to the solemn ‘elevation’ of the relics in 1311, in which a Mass of its own was granted. In 1317, the Bishops gathered in Avignon, granted particular indulgences to her cult.
On 27 January 1720, the Congregation of Rites with Pope Benedict XIII confirmed the ancient cult, having their own Mass celebrated on 22 May and she was formally Canonised on 27 January 1720 by Pope Clement XI. She was declared Co-Patroness of Faenza in 1942. Altars were dedicated to her in the two Monasteries she founded of the Vallombrosana Congregation .
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