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Saint Juliana Falconieri


This Juliana, and her uncle Alexis who was one of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servites, glorified the noble family of the Falconieri by their holiness more than was ever done by its titles of earthly rank or worldly achievements. Juliana was one of the purest and most modest of maidens, but with a courage like unto that of her warrior-ancestors, she fought her way to heaven by a terrible road of voluntary penance and humiliation. Her parents were childless, and well-advanced in years when she was born, in 1270, in answer to prayer. From childhood she shewed a precocious piety, and never cared for youthful amusements or occupations, but rather gave herself to prayer. Her mother's efforts failed to awake in her any interest in even the innocent gaieties of young maidenhood; and finally at the age of fifteen she firmly refused a marriage which was being arranged for her, and insisted that she be permitted to vow herself in virginity to God, having previously refused for some time even so much as to look upon the face of a man. It was then that she was turned over to the spiritual direction of her uncle, the holy Alexis, who carefully instructed her in the life of the evangelical counsels, and clothed her in the Third Order Habit of the Servites, at which time he received her vows as a religious.

For a while she lived with her mother, who finally joined her in her life of special devotion to God; but in 1304, when her mother died, she was made the superior of a house of women Servites who were dedicated to prayer and works of mercy. For them Juliana drew up certain Constitutions which the Mantellate Nuns, as her followers came to be called, have ever since observed; and of these nuns Juliana is considered the foundress, although they were in existence before she became their superior. For even as Saint Philip Beniti gave form and organization to the Servite Friars, so did Saint Juliana to these Servite Nuns. Her austerities were of the severest; sleeping on the bare ground; begirding herself with an iron chain, constant fastings, and frequent flagellations; which penances in her innocence she offered for the salvation of herself as unworthy of God's love, and for all poor sinners. Her self-discipline, coupled with her holiness of life, won for her a quick advance in the way of prayer, whereby she became wise unto salvation, and a marvellous directress of souls. On the other hand, she suffered much from terrible assaults of the evil one, which she overcame by still further exercises of prayer and mortification.

Shortly before her death she found herself incapable of receiving or retaining any food, and of this she complained not at all, but she knew not how she could live without the comfort of holy Communion. Whereat, to comfort her in her extremity, and to help her make an act of spiritual Communion, the Blessed Sacrament was brought, wrapped in a Corporal, and laid for a time upon her breast. And some bystanders afterwards maintained that the sacred host disappeared miraculously, into her heart, and left its impression on her side. But be that as it may, without oral reception of the Most Holy Sacrament, this blessed woman thereby obtained such grace from our Lord's sacramental presence that she was rapt in ecstasy, and forthwith died, namely, in 1341, being the seventy-first year of her age; and in 1737 she was formally canonized.


O GOD, who, in the extremity of her sickness, didst wondrously refresh thy blessed Virgin Juliana with the precious Body of thy Son: grant, we beseech thee; that, in the agony of death, we may by her intercession and merits be so strengthened and refreshed thereby, that we may attain in safety to our heavenly country. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, pages 1248-1250

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