Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Mystical Italian Women - Angela da Foligno

Mystical Italian Women

Beata Angela from Foligno (Umbria-Italy) was a woman who lived in the first half of 1200, and who born and died in Foligno, in January on 4th in 1309, where her mystical activity has aroused great devotion and a reflection that come up to our days.

The words of the Blessed are still current and her example of a sinful sinner devoted to luxury and vanity converted to penance and social actions still inspire disciples to her Shrine and still motivate her "Cenacle", currently in operation at the Church of San Francesco in Foligno. It was in fact a woman who based her existence only on the physical aspect, the worldliness and luxury without giving space to other aspects that were not those of appearing and being admired.

Few and scattered are the news about her youth, traceable directly in her memoirs dictated to her relative, Friar Arnaldo of the Convent of San Francesco where still today stands the Sanctuary dedicated to Angela that welcomes her funeral urn whose remains were also venerated by the Popes, like John Paul II in 1993 and more recently by Pope Francis who in 2013 has canonized her.

Of her origins, before the conversion, little is known except what it recalls in her Memories. Lella, in the family was so called confidentially, was born in Foligno in 1248 and certainly belonged to a good family, a family that owned real estate and land parcels. Her mother pushed her to have social ambitions to be conquered through the pleasant aspect, flirtatiousness and vanity as she herself remembers "For all the time of my life I looked for how I could be adored and honored" 1.

Remained orphaned, she was destined to marriage, as was fitting in those times, with a man older than she and with whom she had children. Widowed at the threshold of forty years in 1285 Lella, who had long been tired of her frivolous existence and set only on appearance and worldliness and who repeatedly tried to confess her sins, ashamed, she finally converted, embracing the Third Franciscan Order in 1291 after a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Francis, but choosing to remain in society and not to withdraw into the convent but to make available to others, women and men, religious and lay people, her experience and her faith, then became Angela.

Her mystical activity earned her the esteem and the affection of the religious and the lay of Foligno and not only, the fame of Angela's spiritual wisdom and her visions and mystical messages soon became an occasion of meeting so much that immediately after her conversion, which took place around 1285, a Cenacle was created around her, a meeting point where lay and religious, met, inspired by her spiritual guidance and her actions, to implement the message of faith of which Angela was an example and an instrument.

Angela, Lella, was a woman of vivacious intellect, she was recognized stubbornness, temperament, an acute intelligence even by those who knew her before conversion as a woman of society intent on luxury. Angela, who was illiterate, nevertheless became, around the "Cenacolo", a point of reference for the faith of women and men, religious and lay people who drew on her mysticism to operate and improve the society of their time.Angela's influence on sacred things was so great that even though she was illiterate, she was called "Master of Theologians", Magistra Theologorum, and many of her followers were counted as such, including Umbertino da Casale. 

From her mystical confessions comes the 'Memorial' that contains her biographical and spiritual memories that constitutes  the first part of the 'Liber', the manuscript codes on the life of the Saint that with the 'Istructiones', the second part consists of documents, especially family letters of Angela, edited by others, form the "Liber", the most important testimony of life, of conversion and of the mystical message of the Blessed.

The Cenacle of Beata Angela is still active, restored in 1989, is a promoter of spiritual and social initiatives. La Teca with the remains of the Blessed is located in the Sanctuary of Beata Angela da Foligno still in the Church of St. Francis of the Friars Minor Conventual of Foligno in Piazza San Francesco where Friar Arnaldo centuries before received from the voice of the Blessed her Memoirs which transcribed and made known to her followers and to posterity.

The liturgical festival takes place on 3rd and 4th of January in Foligno (Umbria- Italy).

"I who speak to you, I am the Divine Power, and the grace I offer you is such that I want you to be happy to all the men who will see you: not only to these but to all those who will think of you and they will remember you or they will hear you name, and to those who love me the most, the more you can help!" 2


Instructiones, da “Liber”, I, 25.
2Consolante Messaggio confidato dal Signore alla Beata”, “Autobiografia della Beata”, come da approvazione Ecclesiastica, Ed. Chiesa San Francesco, Foligno.

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