Saint of the Day – 9 July – Blessed Giovanna Scopelli O.Carm (1428 – 1491) Virgin, Mystic, Italian Religious of the Carmelites and established her own Convent as its first Prioress. She was known, during her lifetime as a miracle-worker with many coming to her to ask for her assistance and prayers. Born in 1428 at Reggio d’ Emilia, Italy and died in 1491 of natural causes, aged 63. Also known as – Jane Scopelli, Joan Scopelli, Giovanna of of Reggio Her body is incorrupt.
Giovanna Scopelli was born in 1428 in Reggio Emilia to Simone and Caterina Scopelli. From her childhood she felt a strong attraction to the religious life though her parents disapproved of this vocation and forbade her to pursue it. Scopelli submitted to this and so led her austere and pious life at home until the death of her parents around 1480, when she then decided to form the Carmelite Convent of Santa Maria del Popolo while in the process of her Novitiate.
Giovanna took on the task of looking for a suitable place, when a widow offered herself, two daughters and her home. They lived together from 1480 until 1484, meanwhile Giovanna was looking for a place twhich could serve as a Monastery. Giovanna set her eyes on the Church of St Bernard, which belonged to the Humiliati Friars. With the support of the Bishop, Philip Zoboli, she obtained it from the Friars’ General on his way through Reggio. The beginnings of the new Monastery dates from 1485, with the name changed from that of St Bernard to that of St Mary of the People (afterwards called of the White Sisters). The inevitable financial difficulties at the beginning were surmounted through the help of a certain Christopher Zoboli. Under Joan’s direction more than twenty religious made up the new community, which was entrusted to the care of the Mantuan Congregation of Carmelites and, for which, in 1487, the Carmelites provided a Confessor.
She refused all endowments and gifts – and urged her fellow religious to do the same thing – unless such gifts were given as alms with no conditions attached to them. In 1487 a Priest was assigned to them as their Confessor. The nuns became known as “The White Nuns.”
God gifted Giovanna with extraordinary charisms. She herself fostered a deep Marian piety (she venerated the Blessed Virgin with a special devotion of her own, called the Tunic of Our Lady – mainly a frequent repetition of Hail Marys and was animated by an intense spirit of penance.
She died on 9 July1491;. Her cult began the following year, with the exhumation of her incorrupt body. In 1500 a public judgement was passed on her life, her virtues and her miracles. During the years 1767-70 the Diocesan process for the recognition of the cult was held, which met with the approval of Pope Clement XIV on 24 August 1771. After the suppression of the Monastery by the secular powers and of the Church of the Carmelite nuns in 1797, the body of the Blessed was transferred to the Cathedral in the year 1803.