Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are ever enriched in learning more about our Franciscan brothers and sisters who are recognized for their holiness. From time to time, we will highlight a follower of St. Francis that appears in the Franciscan calendar of saints. Today we begin with Saint Angela of Foligno, who at Christmas in 1308 told her companions that she would die soon. A few days later, she indeed had a vision of Christ promising to come to take her to heaven. She died peacefully January 3rd in her sleep. She was canonized in 2013.
What kind of person was Angela?
She was married to a wealthy husband and gave birth to several children. In many ways she was blessed to have everything of earthly value, however, her experiences in prayer led her to the threshold of becoming a member of the Franciscan Third Order. After her husband and children died, Angela distributed her worldly goods and founded a community of tertiaries who served those in dire need.
Considered a medieval mystic, Angela’s wisdom can be found in accounts written by her confessor Father Arnold of Foligno. This quote reveals a bit of her relationship with God and some great discernment advice for any vocation:
“No one can be saved without divine light. Divine light causes us to begin and to make progress, and it leads us to the summit of perfection. Therefore if you want to begin and to receive this divine light, pray. If you have begun to make progress, pray. And if you have reached the summit of perfection, and want to be super-illumined so as to remain in that state, pray. If you want faith, pray. If you want hope, pray. If you want charity, pray. If you want poverty, pray. If you want obedience, pray. If you want chastity, pray. If you want humility, pray. If you want meekness, pray. If you want fortitude, pray. If you want any virtue, pray.”
Pope Benedict XVI reflected on her life at a General Audience in 2010. The message is still timely:
“Dear brothers and sisters, Blessed Angela’s life began with a worldly existence, rather remote from God. Yet her meeting with the figure of St Francis and, finally, her meeting with Christ Crucified reawakened her soul to the presence of God, for the reason that with God alone life becomes true life, because, in sorrow for sin, it becomes love and joy. And this is how Blessed Angela speaks to us. Today we all risk living as though God did not exist; he seems so distant from daily life. However, God has thousands of ways of his own for each one, to make himself present in the soul, to show that he exists and knows and loves me. And Blessed Angela wishes to make us attentive to these signs with which the Lord touches our soul, attentive to God’s presence, so as to learn the way with God and towards God, in communion with Christ Crucified. Let us pray the Lord that he make us attentive to the signs of his presence and that he teach us truly to live. ”
Saint Angela, pray for us.