samedi 12 mars 2016


Benozzo Gozzoli. Fresque de Sainte Fine, Chapelle absidiale de Sant' Agostino, San Gimignano

Bienheureuse Fina de San Gimignano

( 1253)

ou Joséphine. 

Elle passa la plus grande partie de sa vie, étendue sur une planche. Elle était jeune et belle aux dires de ses contemporains quand une maladie étrange la couvrit d'ulcères douloureuses qui ne se guérirent jamais. Ses mains immobiles ne pouvaient chasser les mouches qui l'importunaient. L'odeur de ses plaies ne favorisait pas les visites de ses voisines qui lui apportaient le minimum de nourriture. Ce qui ne l'empêcha pas de se déclarer la plus heureuse des créatures de Dieu. On la découvrit morte un matin, les traits souriants des extases dont souvent le Seigneur crucifié lui donnait la grâce.

À San Geminiano en Toscane, l’an 1253, la bienheureuse Fine, vierge, qui supporta, depuis son plus jeune âge, une longue et cruelle maladie, avec une patience inaltérable, mettant toute sa confiance en Dieu.

Martyrologe romain

Fina of San Gimignano V (AC)

(also known as Seraphina)

Born in San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy, in 1238; died there in 1253. Santa Fina, who is still greatly venerated in her hometown, was a virgin whom a reverse of fortune caused to take a vow of holy poverty. She desperately repented of her sins (her worse apparently was accepting an orange from a boy) after contracting a fatal illness at age 10. It appears, however, that she never became a nun, but rather lived at home under obedience to the Benedictines. She patiently suffered constant, repulsive diseases and continuous neglect on her oaken plank. In a vision, Pope Saint Gregory the Great warned her of her approaching death at the age of 15. As she lay ill, she worked many miracles, some of which are illustrated in Ghirlandaio's frescoes in the Collegiata. For example, she restored a choirboy's sight. At her passing, all the bells of the town spontaneously began to ring, her room was found full of flowers, violets blossomed from her board, and wallflowers sprang from a village tower. Her dead hand cured her nurse of a serious malady (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Jepson, Tabor).

Saint Fina is depicted in art as a maiden holding a bunch of flowers in the town of San Gimignano. She may also be shown lying on a pallet tended by a nurse, as Saint Gregory appears to her, or at her death her pallet is covered with flowers (Roeder). Domenico Ghirlandaio painted an illustrated life of Saint Fina in the frescoes of the Collegiate Church of San Gimignano (Tabor). Fina is the patron saint of at San Gimignano, where her feast is celebrated every five years on the first Sunday in August (Roeder, Tabor). 


Domenico Ghirlandaio. Apparizione di san Gregorio a santa Fina, affresco, Cappella di Santa Fina,

Saint Fina - Seraphina

·         Century: 13th Century

·         Patronage: Physically Challenged People

·         Feast Day: March 12th

St. Fina, also known as Seraphina, was born Fina dei Ciardi, in Gimignano, a village in Tuscany, Italy in 1238.  She was the daughter of the Imperiera, a declined noble family.  She lived all her life in humble house located in the historic center of the famous “city of beautiful towers”.   In 1248, Fina’s life was changed by a serious illness, which began to progressively paralyze her body.  Her deep faith relieved her pain.  She refused a bed and chose instead to lie on a wooden board.  According to her legend, during her long sickness her body became attached to the wood board, and worms and rats fed on her flesh.  

During her illness, she lost her father, and later her mother died after a severe fall.  In spite of her misfortune and extreme poverty, she thanked God and expressed a desire that her soul might separate from the body in order to meet Jesus Christ.  Fina’s immense devotion was an example to all the citizens of San Gimignano, who frequently visited her.  Visitors were surprised to receive words of encouragement from a desperately ill young girl who was resigned to the Will of God.  With her mother and father both gone, she was at the mercy of neighbors and a young girl that was her friend, to take care of her.  

On March 4, 1253 after five years of sickness and pain, being bound to a board she used as her bed, those around her were waiting for her passing away.  During this time, St. Gregory the Great allegedly appeared in Fina’s room and predicted that she would die on March 12th.  Fina died on the predicted date, and she was only 15 years old.  She was one of the most beautiful girls in her town, and the disease disfigured her to a point of being grotesque.  She did pass on March 12, which at that time was the Feast Day of St. Gregory the Great, just as she predicted he told her.  

When Fina’s body was removed from the pallet in which she had laid for over 5 years, the people who were there saw white violets bloom from the wood and smelt a fresh flower fragrance through the whole house.  The violets grew out of the board on which she laid, and the violets also grew on the walls of San Gimignano, something that is still occurring to this day.  For this reason, the white violets have been called throughout the world as the “St. Fina Violets”.  As they transferred her body through town, the town’s people shouted, “The Young Saint is Dead”.  

For the next several days, pilgrims went to the Pieve to see Fina’s remains and in that same period, many miracles of healing took place.  One person healed was her young friend, who had a hand paralyzed while caring for Fina during her illness, holding her head up.  While she was near the body, the dead young girl cured her hand.  At the exact moment of Fina’s passing, all the bells of San Gimignano rang without anyone touching them.  Many sick people who visited her grave during the following years were cured and some of these became some of the most fervent supporters of St. Fina.  The decision of Fina to lie down on a wood table is still a mystery, but legend says she did it to offer her suffering for the conversion of sinners.  

Another legend tells that during a walk with two of her friends, she heard another young girl cry out.  The young girl crying had broken a pitcher that her mother had given her in order to fill water from the well.  While she stopped to play with the other children, she forgot the pitcher on the ground, which unfortunately rolled down and broke.  Fina told her to arrange the pieces and put them under the water.  The Pitcher became complete and full of water.  Another miracle was Fina’s neighbor, the man, a few years after Fina’s death on March 12th stopped working to remember the poor young girl’s passing, went to cut the wood and unfortunately hurt his leg.  Suffering for his pain he asked forgiveness of St. Fina and was very sorry for not having respected the holy day of her passing.  Then his cut disappeared, completely healed.  Many miracles are attributed to St. Fina through writings, paintings, poems, and legend.  

St. Fina’s Feast day is celebrated since 1481.  In 1479, two years before her feast day being celebrated, she was implored to stop the plague.  The plague stopped and this miracle occurred again in the same period of 1631, when the plague returned.   The most important thing produced from St. Fina’s intercession, is the hospital that took her name and was built in 1255.  It was built thanks to the donations given at her tomb.  The hospital gave housing to the old and poor, and pilgrims too.  It became in the following century, one of the best in Tuscany.  In the hospitals chapel, the original oak wood board where St. Fina lay down for five years, is preserved.  

Practical Take Away

St. Fina was a young girl born in Tuscany, Italy. She was one of the most beautiful girls in her town, and became paralyzed from an illness at the age of 10.  The disease disfigured her greatly, and then she lost her parents.  Her survival was dependant on her friend, who’s arm became paralyzed from taking care of her and holding her head up, and the town’s people who came to visit the young girl.  She chose to lie on a board, rather than a bed during her illness, which lasted for five years.  When she died, her body was grown fast to the board.  When she was removed, instead of finding her decaying flesh, white violets suddenly grew from the board.  The white violets grew on the stone walls throughout the city as well.  The town folks named them “Fina Violets” and to this day, you can purchase them throughout the world, known as Fina Violets.  


Domenico Ghirlandaio, Esequie di Santa Fina, chapelle de sainte Fina

The Stories of St Fina at San Gimignano (1473-75)


Violets flower in March in San Gimignano, a town of many towers; they are celebrated as the "Fiori di Santa Fina", the flowers of Saint Fina, the town's patron saint. Fina, the pious daughter of poor parents, died on the feast day of Saint Gregory in 1253 after a long and painful illness. She was just fifteen years old. According to legend, after the death of her mother Fina lived an ascetic lifestyle so strict she was, in the end, scarcely able to move. At the instant she died, white, beautifully scented flowers blossomed forth from her bed of pain.

Between 1468 and 1472, architect Giuliano da Maiano built Saint Fina's mortuary chapel in the collegiate church (his brother Benedetto da Maiano created the saint's burial altar about 1475) and Ghirlandaio covered the walls with frescoes. Both artists were working in direct competition with each other, for they were depicting the Obsequies of Saint Fina side by side, each using his own medium, fresco and relief carving. The entire layout of the magnificent ensemble, which is still in its original location, is reminiscent of Antonio Rossellino's mortuary chapel for the Portuguese cardinal dating from 1461-66 in the Florentine church of San Miniato al Monte, the frescoes for which were painted by Ghirlandaio's first teacher, Alessio Baldovinetti.

The year in which the frescoes in the chapel of St Fina were executed can be fixed almost with certainty at 1475 or shortly after. There are two Stories of St Fina: the Apparition to Fina of St Gregory who announces her Death and the Obsequies of the Saint.

It was in the frescoes for this chapel Ghirlandaio was able to develop his own style. The two frescoes in the Saint Fina Chapel are the first major works of Ghirlandaio's career. There are already signs of the architecture that will feature in his later works, here imaginatively and skillfully constructed according to the laws of perspective. The spaces appear to be filled with light and air and to create a bright atmosphere that is enhanced by the luminous colours of Domenico Veneziano. Also evident here is Ghirlandaio's ability, which was much appreciated by his patrons, of including them and their families in religious scenes.


Santa Fina di San Gimignano Vergine

San Gimignano, 1238 - 12 marzo 1253

Nata nel 1238 da due nobili decaduti di San Gimignano, Iosefina (Fina) mori giovanissima, 15enne, nel 1253. Colpita a dieci anni da una grave malattia che la immobilizzò, fu esempio di vita cristiana per chi la visitava. Il dolore della santa fu aumentato, oltretutto, dalla morte della madre. Al momento del trapasso di Fina le campane della città suonarono senza che nessuno le azionasse, narra il suo biografo, il domenicano Giovanni del Coppo, attento più alla devozione che alla storia. Il culto si diffuse subito anche per i molti miracoli avvenuti sulla tomba. Dichiarata patrona della cittadina toscana, in suo onore fu costruito un ospedale. Nel 1457 il Consiglio del Popolo decise la realizzazione di una splendida cappella nella collegiata. (Avvenire)

Martirologio Romano: Nella città di San Gimignano in Toscana, beata Fina, vergine, che fin dalla tenera età sopportò con invitta pazienza una lunga e grave infermità confidando solo in Dio.

Nata da Cambio ed Imperia, nobili decaduti, a san Gimignano nel 1238, Fina (abbreviazione di Iosefina) ebbe una vita breve, ma religiosamente molto intensa. A dieci anni di età fu colpita da una gravissima malattia che la costrinse a letto impedendole qualsiasi movimento. Ad accrescere il dolore si aggiunse la perdita della madre.

Col corpo piagato diede ai visitatori esempio di pazienza, insegnando loro il culto della Passione del Signore e la devozione alla Regina dei martiri.

Si spense il 12 marzo 1253, festa di s. Gregorio Magno, di cui era devota e dal quale avrebbe avuto l'annuncio della morte; al momento del trapasso le campane di San Gimignano suonarono a festa senza che mano alcuna toccasse le corde. Questi particolari si trovano nella sua biografia scritta al principio del sec. XIV dal domenicano Giovanni del Coppo, più con intenti pii e devoti che storici.

Il culto per s. Fina fu molto vivo fin dagli inizi anche per i numerosi miracoli che avvenivano al suo sepolcro. Fu eletta patrona della città; in suo onore fu costruito un ospedale; nel 1457 il Consiglio del Popolo deliberò la costruzione della magnifica cappella che si può ancora ammirare nella collegiata.

Adone Terziarol

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