Spiritual Bouquet: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. St. Matthew 5:44
SAINT ANDREW CORSINI
Bishop of Fiesole
Saint Andrew was born in Florence in 1301 of the illustrious Corsini family. A short time before the birth of Saint Andrew, his mother experienced a strange dream, in which she had given birth to a wolf which became a lamb upon entering a Carmelite church. After a dissolute youthful life Andrew repented, when one day in 1318 his desolate mother told him of her dream. He rose and went to the altar in the church where his parents had offered to God the child they hoped to obtain from His mercy; there he prayed to the Blessed Virgin with tears, then went to beg his admission to the Carmelite Order.
He began a life of great mortification. Ordained a priest in 1328, he studied in Paris and Avignon, and on his return became the Apostle of Florence, and Prior of his convent there. In 1360 he was consecrated Bishop of Fiesole, near Florence, and gained a great reputation as a peacemaker between rival political factions and for his love of the poor. He was also named papal nuncio to Bologna, where he pacified dissenting factions and won the hearts of the nobility with whom he was associating. He wrought many miracles of healing and conversion during his lifetime.
At the age of 71, while he was celebrating the midnight Mass of Christmas, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he would leave this world on the feast of the Epiphany, to meet the beloved Master he had served so faithfully. In effect, he died on that day in 1373, in the thirteenth year of his episcopacy. Miracles were so multiplied thereafter that Pope Eugenius IV permitted a public cult immediately. The city of Florence has always invoked him with confidence and happy results. He was canonized in 1629.
He is often represented holding his crosier, with a wolf and a lamb at his feet, or hovering over a battlefield on a cloud or a white steed — this in memory of his miraculous intervention in a battle the Florentine people won by his assistance.
Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 2; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).
SAINT JANE of VALOIS
Born of the royal blood of France, herself a queen, Jane of Valois led a life remarkable for its humiliations even in the annals of the Saints. Her father, Louis XI, who had hoped for a son to succeed him, banished Jane from his palace, and, it is said, even attempted her life. At the age of five the neglected child offered her whole heart to God, and yearned to do some special service in honor of His blessed Mother. At the king’s wish, though against her own inclination, she was married to the Duke of Orleans.
Towards an indifferent and unworthy husband her conduct was always patient and dutiful. Her prayers and tears saved him from a traitor’s death and shortened a captivity which his rebellion had merited. Still nothing could win a heart which was already given to another. When her husband ascended the throne as Louis XII, his first act was to repudiate, by false representations, one who through twenty-two years of cruel neglect had been his true and loyal wife. At the final sentence of separation, the saintly queen exclaimed, “God be praised who has allowed this, that I may serve Him better than I have heretofore done.”
Retiring to Bourges, she there undertook to realize her long-formed desire of founding the Order of the Annunciation, in honor of the Mother of God. Under the guidance of Saint Francis of Paula, the director of her childhood, Saint Jane was enabled to overcome the serious obstacles which even good people raised against the foundation of her new Order. In 1501 the rule of the Annunciation was finally approved by Alexander VI. The chief aim of the institute was to imitate the ten virtues practiced by Our Lady in the mystery of the Incarnation. Its Superior was called “Ancelle,” handmaid, in honor of Mary’s humility. Saint Jane built and endowed the first convent of the Order in 1502. She died in heroic sanctity in 1505, and was buried in the royal crown and purple, beneath which she wore the habit of her Order.
Reflection. During the lifetime of Saint Jane, the Angelus was established in France. The sound of the Ave thrice each day gave her hope in her sorrow, and fostered in her the desire to honor, yet more, the Incarnation. How often might we derive grace from the same beautiful devotion, so enriched by the Church, yet neglected by so many Christians!
Source: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).