Saint of the Day – 23 July – Blessed Giovanna of Orvieto OP (c 1264-1306) Virgin, Tertiary of the Order of Preachers, Mystic, Stigmatist , miracle-worker. Born in c 1264 at Carnaiola, Italy and died on 23 July 1306, aged 42, of natural causes. She was known for her wise intellect and for her intense devotion to serving the will of God while being noted for the charism of prophecy and visions. Patronages – embroiderers, seamstresses, Italian working women (chosen in 1926). Also known as Jane and Vanna of Orvieto.
The Roman Martyrology states of her today: “In Orvieto in Umbria, Blessed Giovanna, Virgin, Sister of Penance of Saint Domenic, distinguished for charity and patience.”
Giovanna was born near Orvieto, in 1264 of humble peasant parents who both died when she was very young. Moved by a celestial instinct, she entrusted herself entirely to the custody of the Angels, whose loving protection she was deeply aware of.
At the age of ten, she consecrated herself to Jesus and was already yearning for a life of complete dedication to Him. In the meantime she grew beautiful and graceful, while the plan to enter the Third Order of St Dominic, then in bloom, was maturing in her heart. members publicly wore the habit and led religious life, without however, leaving their respective homes.
Realising her decision, the relatives, with whom Giovanna lived, and who had already promised her to a rich young man of the area, showed themselves highly indignant at her decision and began to hinder her in every way.
The young girl then, left Carnaiada and took refuge in nearby Orvieto, where other relatives assisted her, offering her a solitary room and the freedom to serve God. Giovanna, who was only 14 years old at the time, was thus able to receive the white habit of the Order.
Her life was an admirable ascent in the most heroic ways of love. Encouraged by very high contemplation, she entered with so much tenderness in the mysteries of the Passion of Jesus, that she deserved a painful participation in it.
In the last ten years of her life, every Friday, when she entered into ecstasy, she looked like a living crucifix and her bones dislocated with so much clatter, as if they were shattered. To her fellow citizens she was a mirror and teacher of Christian life.
After her death, which took place on 23 July 1306 in Orvieto, from the wound in her side, living blood flowed and God honoured her with many miracles. Her body rests in the Town Church of St Domenic.
In 1926 she was elected Patroness of Italy for female workers, seamstresses and embroiderers.
The year after her death, her body was transferred to the Chapel of the Three Kings and many miracles occurred, giving impetus to the process of Beatification, which, however, was not completed for more than 400 years
Giovanna was Beatified on 11 September 1754 by Pope Benedict XIV (cultus confirmed).