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St. Seraphina

St. Seraphina by Brenda Nippert

Artist Narrative:

Though Seraphina was born poor in Tuscany Italy in the village of San Geminiano, she always found a way to help those even more in need than her. She spent most of her time at home, praying, sewing and spinning (making her the patron saint of spinners). Her father died when she was young and soon after that Seraphina became very ill. Instead of becoming bitter, she only drew closer to God. She prayed constantly and was very devoted to Saint Gregory, who also suffered much in his lifetime. Seraphina became so holy, people began to call her a Saint.

Eventually she was paralyzed and laid on a board for five years. Her mother died suddenly of a fall and Seraphina was all alone. She had a friend named Beldia who cared for her. People often came to seek her spiritual advice because of her holy reputation. At only 15, Seraphina had a vision of Saint Gregory, who told her she would meet him in Heaven on his feast day. She indeed died on march 12 and the two now share a Feast Day. When her body was removed from the board she laid on, white violets bloomed in its place and all over the walls and towers of the town. They still grow there today every March, and are known as “Phina Violets.”

Her feast day is March 12.

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She was a little girl, very pretty, born into a very poor family, whose father died when she was very young. As a little girl she learned to sew and spin, spending most of her time at home.

After her father's death, she was struck with a strange and paralyzing illness. She became misshapen and ugly, in constant pain, unable to get out of bed or even to move. Her mother took care of her but had to leave her for hours at a time to attend to her work. Seraphina's only consolation was the crucifix, and she realized that she was called to imitate the suffering Christ.

Yet she never complained. She managed to remain serene, and something beautiful shone out of her face. Then she was struck another blow. Her mother died, and she was left completely destitute, her neighbors repelled by her appearance and her sickness, her only friend a girl named Beldia who visited her and brought her food.

In her reading, St. Seraphina had heard of the great sufferings of Pope St. Gregory the Great and he became her special saint. She prayed to him, drew strength from the sufferings that he had to endure, and prayed that he would obtain for her the patience she needed to bear her own sufferings. She was now so weak and helpless that it was clear to everyone she could not live very long.

Eight days before her death, alone and almost completely forsaken, St. Gregory appeared to her and told her: "Dear child, on my feast day, God will give you rest" (in those days his feast day was celebrated on March 12). On that day, she died. The whole city attended her funeral and from that moment everyone began to pray to her. On the place where she had lain, her neighbors found white violets growing, and even today in the village of San Geminiano where she lived, the white violets that bloom in March are called Santa Fina flowers. She died on March 12,1253, at the age of fifteen.

Thought for the Day: Sufferings and pain are difficult for anyone to bear, and in St. Seraphina's case they were a true martyrdom. Seraphina had to make sense out of it, young as she was. She drew strength from the sufferings of Jesus and found her happiness in God, in spite of her terrible afflictions. We have little reason to complain about ours.

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