Monday, October 14, 2013

St. Angela of Foligno

On October 9, Pope Francis canonized Bl. Angela of Foligno. Such things are less of a deal than is usually thought -- people who have been beatified are already on the calendar as saints, they just aren't raised to the highest liturgical ranking (in particular, they are only on local calendars rather than the Roman universal calendar). So the big practical difference now is simply that she can be officially commemorated on her feast day all over the world (assuming that it isn't Sunday, which always takes precedence). (There are fully canonized saints that are not on the universal calendar; they get in under an ancient-devotion exemption, and are usually found in one of the official Martyrologies. Hildegard of Bingen was recently given a spot on the universal calendar, for instance; she was already officially recognized as canonized because she was recognized as a saint in the Roman Martyrology, and just needed a regular feast day for universal celebration. Saints recognized in the Roman Martyrology can be universally celebrated in the liturgy, but they have no regular, consistent day for doing so. Canonization of the beatified, on the contrary, changes the status of a person from local-commemoration-only to universal-commemoration-allowed.)

So who was St. Angela? She was a visionary from the thirteenth century (1248-1304). She is a 'sinner saint' -- that is, she led a very worldly early life, contemptuous of those devoting themselves to religious matters, then became convinced that she was going to hell; as a result, she repented and devoted herself to prayer and charity. In particular, she became a Third Order Franciscan. She wrote a book, called Book of Visions and Instructions, that describes her conversion and presents her visions (as you might expect). Pope Benedict XVI had an audience devoted to her, in which he summarizes some of her ideas.

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