dimanche 27 décembre 2015

Sainte FABIOLA de ROME, veuve et fondatrice

Sainte Fabiola

Veuve à Rome, fondatrice du premier hôpital d'Occident ( 399)

Elle appartenait à une grande famille patricienne, la "gens" des Fabiens. Elle connut quelques écarts matrimoniaux, divorçant d'avec son mari légitime pour en épouser un autre. Tous deux ne tardèrent pas à mourir. Alors, publiquement, elle fit pénitence et dépensa son immense fortune pour fonder à Rome le premier hôpital en Occident et un accueil pour les pèlerins. Saint Jérôme, qui fut très impressionné par sa forte personnalité, en écrivit la biographie.

Commémoraison de sainte Fabiola, veuve romaine, qui, au témoignage de saint Jérôme, après divorce et remariage se soumit à la pénitence publique et la rendit parfaite pour le bénéfice des pauvres. Après plusieurs années passées en Terre sainte, elle mourut à Rome en 399, pauvre là où elle avait été riche.

Martyrologe romain

Fabiola of Rome, Widow (AC)
Died c. 400. Not even a bad marriage can stop us from becoming saints. In fact, it may be the impetus to reach for Christian perfection. Fabiola was divorced, remarried, explained, praised by Saint Jerome. Fabiola was a Roman patrician of the Fabii family who married a very young man of equal rank but of debauched habits. She divorced him. Then she united herself to another man, causing great scandal in Rome, because this was contrary to the ordinances of the Church. Both men died soon after and Fabiola was re-admitted into communion after she performed public penance. Not only did she complete the required penance, Fabiola completely changed her life. She forsook her luxurious lifestyle and devoted her great wealth to good works. With the help of Saint Paula's widowed son-in-law Saint Pammachius, Fabiola founded the first hospital of its kind to care for indigent patients brought in from the streets and alleyways of Rome. Here Fabiola personally tended to the needs of the sick.

In 395, she visited her friend Saint Jerome in the Holy Land with the intention of entering the convent at Bethlehem and sharing in Jerome's biblical work. Whether she returned to Rome because Jerome dissuaded her from staying or because she was temperamentally unsuited for the quiet life, we don't know. Jerome says that her idea of the solitude of the stable of Bethlehem was that it should not be cut off from the crowded inn. Nevertheless, she travelled with Jerome and his companions when they fled to Jaffa to escape the dissension building among the leading Palestinian Christians and the threatened invasion of the Huns.

Upon his advice, she returned to Rome from Jaffa and founded and enthusiastically superintended a hostel for sick and needy pilgrims near the city at Porto. This is another of Fabiola's innovations; one which Jerome says soon became known from Parthia to Britain. Apparently not even this undertaking was enough to sap Fabiola's abundant energies. At the time of her death she was planning a new enterprise that would take her abroad. The veneration in which she is held in Rome was demonstrated by the great multitudes that followed her funeral with chants of Alleluia.

Jerome dedicated to Fabiola a treatise on Aaron's priesthood and another on the 'stations' of the Israelites in the desert. This wandering of the chosen people seemed to him a type of Fabiola's life and death (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer). 

St. Fabiola

A Roman matron of rank, died 27 December, 399 or 400. She was one of the company of noble Roman womenwho, under the influence of St. Jerome, gave up all earthly pleasures and devoted themselves to the practice of Christian asceticism and to charitable work.

At the time of St. Jerome's stay at Rome (382-84), Fabiola was not one of the ascetic circle which gathered around him. It was not until a later date that, upon the death of her second consort, she took the decisive step of entering upon a life of renunciation and labour for others.

Fabiola belonged to the patrician Roman family of the Fabia. She had been married to a man who led so vicious a life that to live with him was impossible. She obtained a divorce from him according to Roman law, and, contrary to the ordinances of the Church, she entered upon a second union before the death of her first husband. On the day before Easter, following the death of her second consort, she appeared before the gates of the Lateran basilica, dressed in penitential garb, and did penance in public for her sin, an act which made a great impression upon the Christian population of Rome. The pope received her formally again into full communion with the Church.

Fabiola now renounced all that the world had to offer her, and devoted her immense wealth to the needs of the poor and the sick. She erected a fine hospital at Rome, and waited on the inmates herself, not even shunning those afflicted with repulsive wounds and sores. Besides this she gave large sums to the churches and religious communities at Rome, and at other places in Italy. All her interests were centered on the needs of the Church and the care of the poor and suffering. In 395, she went to Bethlehem, where she lived in the hospice of the convent directed by Paula and applied herself, under the direction of St. Jerome, with the greatest zeal to the study and contemplation of the Scriptures, and to ascetic exercises.

An incursion of the Huns into the eastern provinces of the empire, and the quarrel which broke out between Jerome and Bishop John of Jerusalem respecting the teachings of Origen, made residence in Bethlehem unpleasant for her, and she returned to Rome. She remained, however, in correspondence with St. Jerome, who at her request wrote a treatise on the priesthood of Aaron and the priestly dress. At Rome, Fabiola united with the former senator Pammachius in carrying out a great charitable undertaking; together they erected at Porto a large hospice for pilgrims coming to Rome. Fabiola also continued her usual personal labours in aid of the poorand sick until her death. Her funeral was a wonderful manifestation of the gratitude and veneration with which she was regarded by the Roman populace. St. Jerome wrote a eulogistic memoir of Fabiola in a letter to her relative Oceanus.

 Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Fabiola." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 28 Dec. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05743a.htm>.