Blessed Baptista Varani

Blessed Baptista Varani
(Beata Baptista a Don Varani)

Virgin, Second Order

Baptista was the daughter of Duke Julius Caesar of Camerino, Italy. She was born in the capital city of that prince in 1459. In her earliest years she took pleasure in the vanities of the world. Her heart, it is true, remained unstained; but nevertheless she liked to appear in costly garments and beamed with joy when she was adorned with glittering jewels.

But one day she heard a sermon by a Franciscan on the bitter sufferings of Christ. The touching portrayal so wrung the heart of the young princess that she bewailed her previous vanity with many tears and was henceforth a changed person. From then on not a day passed on which she did not meditate on the sufferings of Our Lord. Under the spiritual direction of Blessed Peter of Mogliano, a Franciscan, she also practiced various bodily mortifications, and arose every night to pray the rosary in honor of the Mother of God.

Meanwhile her father was contemplating marriage for her, but Baptista desired only to devote herself to God and the contemplation of the divine mysteries in some quiet convent cell. The duke opposed this wish of his beloved daughter for the space of two years. At last, however, he consented that Blessed Baptista Varani take the veil in the convent of the Poor Clares at Urbino.

Now Baptista was happier than if she had received a royal crown, and later she often said:

“Oh, what sweetness I experienced in the holy convent at Urbino.”

Some years later, there was an urgent request that the daughters of St Clare establish themselves in Camerino. The duke built a convent for them, and Baptista was sent there with several other sisters.

But now the servant of God, already firmly established in her vocation, was not to escape the test of suffering. She endured long and painful maladies, to which were added violent interior struggles and also persecution by misguided people. But she thanked God for them all, feeling that she was thereby more intimately united with her suffering Savior. She prayed for those who persecuted her; and when her father and brother were cruelly murdered, Baptista prayed to God for the murderers:

“Oh Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

Because of her fidelity in suffering, her crucified Lord constantly drew her more closely to Himself. Christ revealed to her what suffering His own Heart endured, and had her record much of it for the benefit of others.

After Blessed Baptista Varani had served her Divine Spouse in the convent for more than forty years, Baptista died blessedly on the thirty-first of May, 1517. Thirty years after her death her body was exhumed, and the tongue which had so often prayer for her enemies, was found incorrupt and fresh, and it is still preserved that way in a special reliquary.

Blessed Baptista Varani, who was venerated as a saint immediately after her death, was declared Blessed by Pope Gregory XVI.

From: The Franciscan Book of Saints, by Fr Habig, OFM

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