Blessed Villana of Florence

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Tomb of Villana of Florence from Wikimedia Commons

Third Order Dominican (1332–1361)  

Blessed Villana was a pious child. At thirteen she ran away to join a convent but was forced to return. But soon after, when her father compelled her to marry, she gave herself entirely to worldly pleasures. One day, during a fancy party, she happened to gaze into a mirror and saw in return the face of a monster. “She perceived how deformed her interior fullness of soul was in relation to God.” Immediately, she stripped off her jewel-bedecked garments and hastened to a Dominican monastery, where she made a confession and vowed to amend her life. 

Villana soon became a Third Order Dominican, maintaining her married life while devoting what time she could to prayer and sacred reading. As her intimacy with God advanced, she experienced visions and conversations with the Blessed Mother and other saints. Her husband, who was initially disturbed by her devotions, found himself increasingly touched by her example.  

As her death approached, she asked to hear the Passion read aloud. When this was concluded, she crossed her hands on her breast and breathed her last. She was buried in the habit of a Dominican Tertiary. Crowds thronged to her funeral and afterward visited her tomb. She was beatified in 1824.  

“O God, who didst mercifully call back Thy handmaid, the Blessed Villana, from the snares of the world . . . grant, through her intercession, that we, confessing our guilt, may find forgiveness with Thee. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.” —Prayer for Blessed Villana 

© Liturgical Press.

Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.

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