The Servant of God Archangela Tardera, Virgin, Third Order
Archangela was the daughter of the pious physician Peter Tardera of Piazza on the island of Sicily. There the Third Order of St. Francis was held in high esteem. To manifest their regard for it, although they themselves were not yet Tertiaries, Archangela’s parents clothed their little daughter at the age of seven in the gray garment that the Tertiaries wore in public.
The little one had ever been a good child, but now she led the life of a true religious. She practiced various rigorous mortifications, was a model of modesty, and by her conduct in church edified all who observed her. After her father died, Archangela, who was then seventeen years old, together with her mother, formally entered the Third Order. Her sister Laura soon followed her example. From now on the women led such devout lives that they were an edification to the entire town; Archangela gave the example.
Archangela Tardera evinced such loving solicitude for Poor orphans that she was quite generally known as the mother of the orphans. She had, moreover, a particular talent in reconciling married couples who were living in dissension. She had arranged a chapel in her home where the afflicted and the sorrowing could assemble in common prayer with the pious members of the house. This practice joined with the advice they received from Archangela, invariably produced peace of heart. She drew her strength from her intimate communion with God. Sometimes she was rapt in ecstasy while at prayer; once she was granted the same privilege that was granted to our holy Father St. Francis – our Divine Lord appeared to her as a new-born infant in His crib, and, to her great delight, permitted her to embrace and caress Him.
However, the servant of God was also to be tried in the fire of tribulation, as gold is tried in the furnace. She was seized with severe maladies, one after the other, so that her limbs were as if withered; continuous palpitation of the heart alarmed her, and her whole body was in torture. These sufferings continued without interruption through the space of thirty-six years. But she bore them with great patience and in devout remembrance of the Passion of Christ.
Towards the end of her life, our Lord impressed on her body His own five wounds. This grace she endeavored to conceal as much as possible so that only a few people knew of it during her lifetime. After her death, the marks of the scourging were also detected on her body.
Amid all those tortures she was always heard to speak only of the sweet love of God. Finally, the day arrived on which this faithful and tried soul was led into the glory of her Lord. She had foretold the day of her death and died on it in the year 1608 at the age of sixty.
The Holy Ghost teaches us by the mouth of the Apostle that tribulation works patience, and patience trial, and that only trial gives hope of the glory of the sons of God. This we perceive in the lives of almost all the saints, and especially in the life of this servant of God Archangela. She was faithful in the service of God even in her childhood days and had been granted many special favors by her Lord, but only the patience required for the long years of suffering proved her sterling qualities and made her worthy of the crown. Not the privilege of caressing the Divine Child, but carrying the cross conducted her to eternal bliss. There are still many who, as Thomas a Kempis says, “desire to rejoice with Jesus, but few are willing to endure anything for His sake. Many follow Jesus to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the chalice of His Passion.”
As long as the service of God furnishes us with joy and sweetness, virtue cannot be recognized. Many a person serves God only because he derives profit for himself and experiences pleasure from it, but such people do not really love God, rather they love themselves and their pleasure. They fall by the wayside in the time of tribulation; their service to God is only seeming virtue, not true virtue. True virtue serves God because He is the Lord and the highest unchangeable Good, whom we must serve with fidelity at all times. The truly virtuous person acknowledges God’s goodness and wisdom also in the afflictions that He sends.
Virtue is tried by afflictions and also increases our merits. In the parable of the vine, our Lord says: “Every branch that bears fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Consider how the husbandman deals with the branch; he cuts and trims it, binds it, and exposes it to the rays of the sun; then only does it produce sweet and precious wine.
Prayer of the Church
O God, who by the patience of Thine only begotten Son hast crushed the pride of the old enemy; give unto us, we beseech Thee, ever to be devoted to what He lovingly endured for us, and thus, after His example, to bear with serene mind the troubles which come upon us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
*from the Franciscan Book of Saints by Marion A. Habig, OFM
Pelayo's resistance initiated the nearly 800-year-long Reconquista to take back his country from the ruthless invader who had conquered his homeland and sought to erase his culture and his faith. His actions would lay the foundations of a Kingdom for Christ that would eventually reach around the world and spread the Catholic faith to millions of souls. Read more...
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