lundi 29 février 2016

Saint OSWALD de WORCESTER, moine bénédictin et archevêque

Saint Oswald et l'abbé Eadnoth de Ramsey,

Saint Oswald

Évêque de Worcester puis d'York ( 992)

Il servit le Christ comme chanoine de Winchester, puis comme moine de Saint Benoît à Fleury-sur-Loire et revint à Winchester comme évêque puis archevêque d'York.

À Worcester en Angleterre, l’an 992, saint Oswald, évêque. D’abord chanoine de Winchester, puis moine à Fleury, il fut placé ensuite sur le siège de Worcester, et, quelque temps après, il eut encore à diriger l’Église d’York. Il établit la Règle de saint Benoît dans de nombreux monastères et fut un maître affable, joyeux et savant. (éloge le 28 février omis les années bissextiles)

Martyrologe romain

St. Oswald

Archbishop of York, d. on 29 February, 992. Of Danish parentage, Oswald was brought up by his uncle Odo, Archbishop of Canterbury, and instructed by Fridegode. For some time he was dean of the house of the secular canons at Winchester, but led by the desire of a stricter life he entered the Benedictine Monastery of Fleury, where Odo himself had received the monastic habit. He was ordained there and in 959 returned to England betaking himself to his kinsman Oskytel, then Archbishop of York. He took an active part in ecclesiastical affairs at York until St. Dunstan procured his appointment to the See of Worcester. He was consecrated by St. Dunstan in 962. Oswald was an ardent supporter of Dunstan in his efforts to purify the Church from abuses, and aided by King Edgar he carried out his policy of replacing by communities the canons who held monastic possessions. Edgar gave the monasteries of St. Albans, Ely, and Benfleet to Oswald, who established monks at Westbury (983), Pershore (984), at Winchelcumbe (985), and at Worcester, and re-established Ripon. But his most famous foundation was that of Ramsey in Huntingdonshire, the church of which was dedicated in 974, and again after an accident in 991. In 972 by the joint action of St. Dunstan and Edgar, Oswald was made Archbishop of York, and journeyed to Rome to receive the pallium from John XIII. He retained, however, with the sanction of the pope, jurisdiction over the diocese of Worcester where he frequently resided in order to foster his monastic reforms (Eadmer, 203). On Edgar's death in 975, his work, hitherto so successful, received a severe check at the hands of Elfhere, King of Mercia, who broke up many communities. Ramsey, however, was spared, owing to the powerful patronage of Ethelwin, Earl of East Anglia. Whilst Archbishop of York, Oswald collected from the ruins of Ripon the relics of the saints, some of which were conveyed to Worcester. He died in the act of washing the feet of the poor, as was his daily custom during Lent, and was buried in the Church of St. Mary at Worcester. Oswald used a gentler policy than his colleague Ethelwold and always refrained from violent measures. He greatly valued and promoted learning amongst the clergy and induced many scholars to come from Fleury. He wrote two treatises and some synodal decrees. His feast is celebrated on 28 February.


Historians of York in Rolls Series, 3 vols.; see Introductions by RAINE. The anonymous and contemporary life of the monk of Ramsey, I, 399-475, and EADMER, Life and Miracles, II, 1-59 (also in P.L., CLIX) are the best authorities; the lives by SENATUS and two others in vol. II are of little value; Acta SS., Feb., III, 752; Acta O.S.B. (Venice, 1733), saec. v, 728; WRIGHT, Biog. Lit., I (London, 1846), 462; TYNEMOUTH and CAPGRAVE, ed. HORSTMAN, II (Oxford, 1901), 252; HUNT, Hist. of the English Church from 597-1066 (London, 1899); IDEM in Dict. of Nat. Biog., s.v.; LINGARD, Anglo-Saxon Church (London, 1845).

Parker, Anselm. "St. Oswald." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 29 Feb. 2016 <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Herman F. Holbrook. Saint Oswald, and all ye holy Bishops and Confessors, pray for us.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

St. Oswald, Bishop of Worcester and Archbishop of York

From his life, written by Eadmer; also from Florence of Worcester, William of Malmesbury, and, above all, the elegant and accurate author of the History of Ramsey, published by the learned Mr. Gale, p. 385. The life of this saint, written by Folcard, abbot of Thorney, in 1068, Wharton thinks not extant. Mabillon doubts whether it be not that which we have in Capgrave and Surius. See also Portiforium S. Oswaldi Archiep. Eborac. Codex MS. crassus in 8vo. exaratus circa annum 1064, in Bennet College, Cambridge, mentioned by Waneley, Catal. p. 110.

A.D. 992

ST. OSWALD was nephew of St. Odo, archbishop of Canterbury, and to Oskitell, bishop first of Dorcester, afterwards of York. He was educated by St. Odo, and made dean of Winchester; but passing into France, took the monastic habit at Fleury. Being recalled to serve the church, he succeeded St. Dunstan in the see of Worcester about the year 959. He shone as a bright star in this dignity, and established a monastery of monks at Westberry, a village in his diocess. He was employed by duke Aylwin in superintending his foundation of the great monastery of Ramsey, in an island formed by marshes and the River Ouse in Huntingdonshire, in 972. St. Oswald was made archbishop of York in 974, and he dedicated the church of Ramsey under the names of the Blessed Virgin, St. Benedict, and all holy virgins. Nothing of this rich mitered abbey remains standing except an old gate-house, and a neglected statue of the founder, Aylwin, with keys and a ragged staff in his hand to denote his office; for he was cousin to the glorious king Edgar, the valiant general of his armies, and the chief judge and magistrate of the kingdom, with the title of alderman of England, and half king, as the historian of Ramsey usually styles him. 1 St. Oswald was almost always occupied in visiting his diocess, preaching without intermission, and reforming abuses. He was a great encourager of learning and learned men. St. Dunstan obliged him to retain the see of Worcester with that of York. Whatever intermission his function allowed him he spent at St. Mary’s, a church and monastery of Benedictins, which he had built at Worcester, where he joined with the monks in their monastic exercises. This church from that time became the cathedral. The saint, to nourish in his heart the sentiments of humility and charity, had everywhere twelve poor persons at his table, whom he served, and also washed and kissed their feet. After having sat thirty-three years he fell sick at St. Mary’s in Worcester, and having received the Extreme-unction and Viaticum, continued in prayer, repeating often, “Glory be to the Father,” &c., with which words he expired amidst his monks, on the 29th of February, 992. His body was taken up ten years after and enshrined by Adulph his successor, and was illustrated by miracles. It was afterwards translated to York on the 15th of October, which day was appointed his principal festival.

St. Oswald made quick progress in the path of perfect virtue, because he studied with the utmost earnestness to deny himself and his own will, listening attentively to that fundamental maxim of the Eternal Truth which St. Bennet, of whose holy order he became a bright light, repeats with great energy. This holy founder declares in the close of his rule, that, He who desires to give himself up to God, must trample all earthly things under his feet, renounce everything that is not God, and die to all earthly affections, so as to attain to a perfect disengagement and nakedness of heart, that God may fill and entirely possess it, in order to establish therein the kingdom of his grace and pure love for ever. And in his prologue he cries out aloud, that he addresses himself only to him who is firmly resolved in all things to deny his own will, and to hasten with all diligence to arrive at his heavenly kingdom.

Note 1. The titles of honour amongst our Saxon ancestors were, Etheling, prince of the blood: chancellor, assistant to the king in giving judgments: alderman, or ealderman, (not earldorman, as Rapin Thoyras writes this word in his first edition,) governor or viceroy. It is derived from the word Ald or old, like senator in Latin. Provinces, cities, and sometimes wapentakes, had their alderman to govern them, determine law-suits, judge criminals, &c. This office gave place to the title of earl, which was merely Danish, and introduced by Canute. Sheriffe or she-reeve, was the deputy of the alderman, chosen by him, sat judge in some courts, and saw sentence executed; hence he was called vicecomes. Heartoghan signified, among our Saxon ancestors, generals of armies, or dukes. Hengist, in the Saxon chronicle, is heartogh, such were the dukes appointed by Constantine the Great, to command the forces in the different provinces of the Roman Empire. These titles began to become hereditary with the offices or command annexed under Pepin and Charlemagne, and grew more frequent by the successors of these princes granting many hereditary fiefs to noblemen, to which they annexed titular dignities. Fiefs were an establishment of the Lombards, from whom the emperors of Germany, and the kings of France, borrowed this custom, and with it the feodal laws, of which no mention is found in the Roman code. Titles began frequently to become merely honorary about the time of Otho I. in Germany.

  Reeve among the English Saxons was a steward. The bishop’s reeve was a bishop’s steward for secular affairs, attending in his court. Thanes, i. e. servants, were officers of the crown whom the king recompensed with lands, sometimes to descend to their posterity, but always to be held of him with some obligation of service, homage, or acknowledgment. There were other lords of lands and vassals, who enjoyed the title of thanes, and were distinguished from the king’s thanes. The ealdermen and dukes were all king’s thanes, and all others who held lands of the king by knight’s service in chief, and were immediate great tenants of the king’s estates. These were the greater thanes, and were succeeded by the barons, which title was brought in by the Normans, and is rarely found before the Conqueror. Mass thanes were those who held lands in fee of the church. Middle thanes were such as held very small estates of the king, or parcels of lands of the king’s greater thanes. They were called by the Normans vavassors, and their lands vavassories. They who held lands of these, were thanes of the lowest class, and did not rank as gentlemen. All thanes disposed of the lands which they held (and which were called Blockland) to their heirs, but with the obligations due to those of whom they were held. Ceorle (whence our word churl) was a countryman or artizan, who was a freeman. Those ceorles who held lands in leases, were called sockmen, and their lands sockland, of which they could not dispose, being barely tenants. Those ceorles who acquired possession of five hides of land with a large house, court, and bell to call together their servants, were raised to the rank of thanes of the lowest class. An hide of land was as much as one plough could till. The villains or slaves in the country were labourers, bound to the service of particular persons; were all capable of possessing money in property, consequently were not strictly slaves in the sense of the Roman law.

  Witan or Wites, (i. e. wisemen,) were the magistrates and lawyers. Burghwitten signified the magistrates of cities. Some shires (or counties) are mentioned before king Alfred; and Asserius speaks of earls (or counts) of Somerset, and Devonshire, in the reign of Ethelwolph. But Alfred first divided the whole kingdom into shires, the shires into tithings, lathes, or wapentacks, the tithings into hundreds, and the hundreds into tenths. Each division had a court subordinate to those that were superior, the highest in each shire being the shire-gemot, or folck-mote, which was held twice a year, and in which the bishop or his deputy, and the ealderman, or his vicegerent the sheriff, presided. See Seldon on the Titles of Honour; Spelman’s Glossary, ed noviss. Squires on the Government of the English Saxons. Dr. William Howel, in his learned General History, t. 5. p. 273, &c. N. B. The titles of earle and hersen were first given by Ifwar Widfame, king of Sweden, to two ministers of state, in 824; on which see many remarks of Olof Delin, in his excellent new history of Sweden, c. 5. t. 1. p. 334. 

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume II: February. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.

There are two saints called Oswald in England: one was a king, the other a monk.

The king lived in the 7th century in Northumbria: he brought St Aidan to Lindisfarne and his feast is on 5th August.

The monk, of danish origin, lived in the 10th century and became bishop of Worcester, and later archbishop of York; his feast is on 28th February. It is about the latter that Patrick Duffy writes here.

A  monk of Danish family

Oswald was of a Danish family and was brought up by his uncle Oda, who sent him to the Benedictine abbey of Fleury-sur-Loire to become a monk.

Bishop of Worcester

When Oswald returned to England as a priest in 958/9, he worked for another Danish patron, Oskytel, who had recently become archbishop of York. His activity for Oskytel attracted the notice of Saint Dunstan, then bishop of Worcester and in the process of moving to become archbishop of Canterbury. Dunstan persuaded King Edgar to appoint Oswald bishop of Worcester in his place in 961.

Founding monasteries

Oswald founded a number of monasteries at Westbury-on-Trym (near Bristol), at Ramsey (in Cambridgeshire) in collaboration with Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester and Pershore and Evesham (in Worcestershire). He also succeeded in gradually changing the cathedral chapter in Worcester from priests to monks, supposedly because the clergy would not give up their wives.

Archbishop of York

In 972 Oswald became archbishop of York, and was able to bring Abbo and other monks of Fleury to York to teach for a number of years.

Death and memory

But Oswald also held on to the diocese of Worcester, presiding over both dioceses. And it was at Worcester that on 29th February 992 he died, while he was washing the feet of the poor, a practice that had become his daily custom during Lent. He was buried in the Church of St Mary at Worcester. His feast is celebrated on 28th February. He is closely associated with other monks who became bishops – like St Dunstan (909-988) and St Ethelwold (908-984) – in restoring monasticism in England.

Saint Oswald

Archbishop of York
(† 992)

Oswald was of a noble Saxon family; he was endowed with a very rare and handsome appearance and with a singular piety of soul. Brought up by his uncle, Saint Odo, Archbishop of Canterbury, he was chosen, while still young, as dean of the secular canons of Winchester, at that time very lax. His attempt to reform them was a failure, and he saw, with that infallible instinct which so often guides the Saints in critical times, that the true remedy for the corruption of the clergy was the restoration of monastic life.

He therefore went to France and took the habit of Saint Benedict. When he returned to England it was to receive the news of Odo's death. He found, however, a new patron in Saint Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, through whose influence he was nominated to the see of Worcester. To these two Saints, together with Ethelwold of Winchester, the monastic revival of the tenth century is mainly due.

Oswald's first care was to deprive of their benefices all disorderly secular clerics, whom he replaced as far as possible by religious priests. He himself founded seven religious houses. Considering that in the hearts of the secular canons of Winchester there were yet some sparks of virtue, he would not at once dismiss them, but rather reformed them through a holy artifice. Adjoining their cathedral church he built a chapel in honor of the Mother of God, causing it to be served by a body of strict religious. He himself assisted at the divine Office there, and his example was followed by the people. The canons, finding themselves isolated and the church deserted, chose rather to embrace the religious life than continue to injure their own souls, and be also a mockery to their people, through the contrast offered by their worldliness and the regularity of their religious brethren.

Later, as Archbishop of York, Saint Oswald met a like success in his efforts. God manifested His approval of his zeal by discovering to him the relics of his great predecessor at Worcester, Saint Wilfrid, which he reverently translated to the church of that city. He died while washing the feet of the poor, as he did daily during Lent, on February 29, 992.

Reflection. A soul without discipline is like a ship without a helm: it must inevitably strike unawares upon the rocks, founder on the shoals, or float unawares into the harbor of the enemy.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894)

*On leap years, the feast day of this Saint is celebrated on February 29.

dimanche 28 février 2016

Bienheureuse ANTONIA (ANTOINETTE) de FLORENCE, religieuse clarisse et fondatrice

Fresque représentant la bienheureuse Antoinette de Florence 

dans le cloître du couvent des frères à Ocre (L'Aquila), Italie

Bienheureuse Antoinette de Florence

Clarisse à Florence ( 1472)

Elle se maria à quinze ans et devint veuve très jeune encore. Elle se remaria et mais elle connut à nouveau le veuvage. Alors elle décida d'entrer chez les clarisses de sa ville natale, Florence. Elle eut beaucoup à souffrir à cause de l'un de ses fils qui ne cessa de la tourmenter. Mais son père spirituel, saint Jean de Capistran, la réconfortait et elle reçut de Dieu de grandes consolations. 

À L’Aquila dans les Abruzzes, en 1472, la bienheureuse Antonie de Florence, veuve, qui entra chez les Clarisses et fut ensuite la fondatrice et la première abbesse du monastère du Corpus Christi, sous la Règle primitive de sainte Claire. (éloge omis le 28 février les années bissextiles)

Martyrologe romain



Religieuse Clarisse, Bienheureuse


Antonia naquit à Florence en 1400. Jeune veuve avec un enfant, elle s’opposa à sa famille qui lui proposait de secondes noces. De son côté, elle considérait les adversités de la vie comme un dessein particulier du Seigneur.

A cette époque, saint Bernardin de Sienne, avec ses compagnons, répandait en maintes villes d’Italie le mouvement de l’Observance, avec un retour au “francescanisme” des origines. La plupart des homélies se faisaient sur la place publique, car les églises étaient trop petites pour contenir toutes les foules qui accouraient. C’est ainsi que frère Bernardino se fit entendre à Sainte Croix de Florence du 8 mars au 3 mai 1425. Après l’avoir entendu, Antonia répondit “oui” sans conditions à l’appel de Dieu. Elle avait connu la vie matrimoniale, elle était mère, mais le Seigneur apportait un tournant à sa vie. Quatre ans plus tard, après avoir réglé les affaires familiales, elle entra parmi les tertiaires franciscaines fondées par la bienheureuse Angiolina de Marsciano, elle aussi jeune veuve.

Le couvent florentin de saint Onofrio était déjà le cinquième qui se fondait. Peu après sa profession, Antonia fut envoyée, au vu de son charisme, dans le monastère le plus ancien de l’Ordre, érigé à Foligno en 1397. La fondatrice la transféra successivement à Assise, puis à Todi, enfin à L’Aquila en vue de fonder une nouvelle communauté. C’était le 2 février 1433, fête de la Présentation de Jésus au Temple. Ce couvent de L’Aquila, mis sous la protection de sainte Elisabeth, fut guidé par Antonia pendant quatorze années, durant lesquelles elle se voua corps et âme à la croissance de la communauté dans les préceptes de l’Evangile.

Toutefois, dans le cœur d’Antonia mûrissait le désir d’une vie davantage contemplative. Il faut signaler aussi que pendant plusieurs années elle subit une pénible épreuve à cause des désordres de Battista, son fils, qui dilapidait tout le patrimoine familial, engendrant aussi des litiges entre parents.

Concernant la réforme de l’Observance, plusieurs communautés de Clarisses y adhérèrent, et ce fut saint Giovanni de Capistran qui guida la réforme à L’Aquila. Antonia fut parmi les premières de ce groupe. Le Saint trouva l’édifice adéquat pour abriter le monastère, et présida à la solennelle fondation le 16 juillet 1447. Partant de Collemaggio, le cortège accompagna Antonia, nouvellement élue abbesse par volonté de Jean de Capistran, avec ses treize compagnes, pour rejoindre le monastère de l’Eucharistie (appelé aussi du “Corpus Domini”). Les débuts furent marqués par une extrême pauvreté, on manquait du plus nécessaire et Antonia n’hésita pas à aller mendier. Les religieuses vivaient la pauvreté avec une joie évangélique, leur Mère leur en donnait un exemple courageux et maternel, tout cela dans un climat authentiquement fraternel. Il en résulta des fruits abondants et de nombreuses vocations.

Même le fils d’Antonia bénéficia de l’influence de saint Jean de Capistran : Battista vêtit en effet l’habit franciscain au couvent de Campli où sa conduite fut exemplaire.

Après sept années, Antonia obtint enfin de pouvoir s’adonner exclusivement à la contemplation et au silence. Sainte Claire d’Assise disait d’elle : “Elle se taisait, mais sa renommée hurlait”. Modeste et obéissante, elle se mettait à la dernière place aussi bien à table qu’au chœur, et se mettait les habits les plus usés, que ses consœurs ne pouvaient plus mettre. Certaines moniales la virent ravie en extase, avec une auréole lumineuse au-dessus de sa tête. Dans les dernières années de sa vie, elle dissimula une plaie qu’elle avait contractée à la jambe. Elle mourut à vingt-et-une heures le 29 février 1472, entourée de ses chères consœurs.

Des miracles eurent lieu avant même sa sépulture. Une des moniales s’étendit près d’elle et guérit de plusieurs plaies. Les magistrats de la ville voulurent assumer les frais des obsèques. Quinze jours après la sépulture, les consœurs l’exhumèrent pour en revoir encore une fois les traits, et la trouvèrent comme si elle venait de s’éteindre. Le bruit s’en répandit dans la ville et l’évêque Agnifili ordonna qu’on l’ensevelît dans un endroit choisi. Cinq ans plus tard en 1477, l’évêque Borgio ordonna une nouvelle reconnaissance de la dépouille, constata la parfaite conservation du corps de Mère Antonia et, connaissant bien sa renommée de sainteté, en autorisa le culte. Le culte fut à nouveau confirmé en 1848.

Récemment, les reliques de la Bienheureuse ont été transférées du monastère de l’Eucharistie à celui des Clarisses de Paganica, non sans quelques manifestations de mécontentement des habitants de l’Aquila.

La Bienheureuse est donc inscrite au Martyrologe le 29 février.

Bruno Kiefer, Prêtre


Blessed Antonia (Antoinette) of Florence

OFM Widow (AC)

February 28

Born in Florence, Italy, in 1400; died 1472; cultus confirmed in 1847. Twice widowed, twice prioress, Antonia joined the Franciscan tertiaries when she was widowed while still very young. She was chosen as superioress of Aquila and adopted the original rule of the Poor Clares. She contracted a painful disease, which afflicted her for 15 years, but this and other trials she bore bravely under the guidance of Saint John of Capistrano (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Blessed Antonia of Florence

(Beata Antonia de Firenze)

Feast Day – February 26

Blessed Antonia of Florence was born of a noble family at Florence, Italy, in 1401. She entered the married state at a very early age, in compliance with the wish of her parents. When her husband died in 1428, she allowed nothing to induce her to contract a second marriage, but resolved to withdraw from the world and live only for God and the salvation of her soul.

In the following year she entered the convent of Tertiaries which Blessed Angelina had recently founded at Florence. Here she so distinguished herself by virtue and wisdom, that after a few years the superiors called her to Foligno to preside as superior of the convent there.

Although in her humility she found it difficult to accept the advancement, she was happy to carry out the appointment under the guidance of Blessed Angelina, who, as superior general of the several convents she had founded, dwelt at Foligno. Antonia so availed herself of the opportunity to profit by the holy example and the good counsel of the foundress, that she could be held up as a model superior.

In consequence, after a few years, Blessed Antonia of Florence was sent to establish a convent in Aquila. There, under her maternal direction, a veritable sanctuary of holiness budded forth, the fame of which brought joy to that city and the entire vicinity.

Although the religious community zealously served God according to the rule of the Third Order, it did not satisfy Blessed Antonia in her yearning for personal perfection. She felt strongly drawn to a stricter life, to more perfect poverty, and to more complete renunciation of the world, as practiced in the Order of St Clare.

At a visitation she communicated her desire to her spiritual director, St John Capistran. He approved it, and at his suggestion and with the sanction of the Holy Father, a new convent of the Poor Clares was founded at Aquila, which Antonia with twelve consecrated virgins entered in 1447. She was appointed superior and abbess; but, while she occupied the highest place, she always strove to find the last. The lowliest tasks, worn clothes, the most disagreeable occupations she assigned to herself, while she shunned all honor and distinction. In all she did and said there shone forth the most sincere humility.

Just as pronounced was the patience with which she bore the burdens of her position, the weakness of all her subjects, the many importunities of her relatives, and finally the sufferings of a lingering illness.

While she was extraordinarily severe with herself, she possessed truly motherly concern for her sisters. They in turn clung to her with filial love, and when after seven years of administration she was relieved of the burden, she was still considered by the sisters as their mother and model.

God distinguished His faithful servant with special graces. Her prayer amounted to perfect contemplation of heavenly things, the ardor of her devotion sometimes causing her to be raised aloft bodily. Once a glowing sphere was seen suspended over her head.

Blessed Antonia of Florence reached the age of seventy-one years, and died on February 18, 1472, addressing words of comfort and holy exhortation to her sorrowing fellow sisters about her.

Numerous miracles occurred at her grave, and her body is a constant miracle, for, up to the present time it is preserved wholly incorrupt and is of an extraordinary freshness which is emphasized by the open eyes. The uninterrupted veneration which began with the day of her death received the sanction of Pope Pius IX.

*from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm

Blessed Antonia of Florence


Married and a mother of one. Widowed twice. Franciscan tertiary. Poor Clare nun. Spiritual student of Saint John Capitran. Abbess at Aquila, Italy from 1433 to 1447. Founded a Observant-oriented house of Poor Clares in Aquila. Sick the last 15 years of her life.


Beata Antonia di Firenze Badessa

† 29 febbraio 1472

Nata a Firenze, giovanissima si sposò ed ebbe un figlio. Rimasta vedova, entrò nel monastero delle terziarie di s. Francesco, fondato a Firenze nel 1429 dalla beata Angelina. Fu badessa a Foligno (1430-33) e poi a L'Aquila dove, nel 1447, confortata dal consiglio di S. Giovanni da Capistrano, fondò il monastero del Corpus Domini sotto la regola prima di s. Chiara. Allora, come era avvenuto ad Assisi ai tempi di s. Chiara, molte fanciulle aquilane, per seguire Antonia che ne rispecchiava le virtù, abbandonarono il mondo. La beata morì il 29 febbraio 1472. Il suo corpo si conserva, tuttora intatto e flessibilie, nel monastero di s. Chiara dell'eucarestia a L'Aquila. Pio IX approvò il culto il 17 settembre 1847.

Etimologia: Antonia = nata prima, o che fa fronte ai suoi avversari, dal greco

Martirologio Romano: All’Aquila, beata Antonia da Firenze, vedova, poi fondatrice e prima badessa del monastero del Corpo di Cristo sotto la prima regola di santa Chiara.

Antonia nacque a Firenze nel 1400. Giovane vedova, con un figlio, si oppose alla famiglia che era favorevole ad un nuovo matrimonio. Vedeva, nelle avversità della vita, un disegno singolare del Signore. Erano gli anni in cui san Bernardino da Siena, con alcuni compagni, diffondeva in molte città italiane il movimento dell'Osservanza e il ritorno di un "francescanesimo" delle origini. La maggior parte delle prediche erano fatte in piazza, le chiese non riuscivano a contenere le folle che puntualmente accorrevano. Frate Bernardino predicò in Santa Croce a Firenze dall'8 marzo al 3 maggio 1425. Antonia, ascoltandolo, rispose sì, senza condizioni, alla chiamata di Dio. Aveva conosciuto l´esperienza della vita matrimoniale, era madre, ma il Signore dava una svolta alla sua vita. Quattro anni dopo, sistemate le questioni familiari, entrò tra le terziarie francescane fondate dalla b. Angiolina da Marsciano, anch'essa giovane vedova. Il convento fiorentino di sant'Onofrio era il quinto che veniva fondato. Poco dopo la sua professione Antonia fu mandata, per il suo carisma, nel monastero più antico dell'Ordine, sorto a Foligno nel 1397. La fondatrice la trasferì in seguito ad Assisi, a Todi, poi definitivamente a L´Aquila, per fondare una nuova comunità. Era il 2 febbraio 1433. Il convento aquilano, posto sotto la protezione di s. Elisabetta, la ebbe come guida per quattordici anni, durante i quali diede tutta se stessa perché la comunità crescesse secondo i precetti del Vangelo. Nel cuore di Antonia maturava però il desiderio di una vita maggiormente contemplativa. Motivo di pena fu, per diversi anni, la vita disordinata del figlio, che aveva sperperato il patrimonio, causando litigi tra i parenti. Al movimento dell'Osservanza aderirono diverse comunità di clarisse e a L´Aquila fu san Giovanni da Capestrano a guidare la riforma. Antonia fu tra le prime che vi aderì. Il santo trovò l'edificio per il monastero, presenziando alla solenne fondazione del 16 luglio 1447. Il corteo, partendo da Collemaggio, accompagnò Antonia, eletta badessa per volontà del Capestrano, e le tredici compagne al monastero dell'Eucaristia (o del Corpus Domini). Si cominciò nelle ristrettezze più assolute, mancava anche lo stretto necessario, e Antonia non esitò a farsi questuante. La povertà era vissuta con letizia evangelica, l'esempio della Madre era forte e materno e il clima sinceramente fraterno. I frutti furono abbondanti e molte giovani chiesero di vestire l'abito e di consacrarsi al Signore. Anche per il figlio di Antonia, Battista, s. Giovanni ebbe un ruolo determinante. Il giovane vestì il saio francescano nel convento di Campli, conducendo una vita esemplare. Trascorsi sette anni, Antonia finalmente ottenne di potersi dedicare esclusivamente alla contemplazione e al silenzio. "Taceva ma la sua fama gridava", come si disse di S. Chiara. Era modesta ed obbediente, in mensa e in coro stava all'ultimo posto, indossava le vesti più logore, lasciate dalle consorelle. Alcune monache la videro rapita in estasi, con una aureola luminosa sul capo. Negli ultimi anni ebbe una piaga alla gamba che tenne nascosta. La Beata morì alle 21 del 29 febbraio 1472, vegliata con amore dalle sorelle. Alcuni miracoli si verificarono prima ancora che venisse sepolta. Una monaca si distese al suo fianco e guarì da alcune piaghe. I magistrati della città vollero sostenere le spese del funerale. Quindici giorni dopo la sepoltura, le consorelle, volendo ancora vedere le sue sembianze, la disseppellirono, trovandola come se fosse appena morta. Si diffuse la voce in città e il vescovo Agnifili ordinò che fosse sepolta in un luogo distinto. Nel 1477 il vescovo Borgio, dopo una nuova ricognizione, constatato lo stato di perfetta conservazione del corpo di Madre Antonia e, soprattutto, ben conoscendone la fama di santità, ne autorizzò il culto che fu poi confermato il 28 luglio 1848. Le clarisse di Paganica, custodi del suo corpo, sono oggi fedeli testimoni del suo carisma.


Padre delle Misericordie,
Tu che hai scelto la Beata Antonia,
come figlia, sorella e sposa
del Tuo Figlio Gesù Cristo
sulla via tracciata da Francesco e
Chiara d’ Assisi e l’hai colmata
dei doni del tuo Spirito
rendendola modello di povertà
e di vita evangelica per l’ardente
desiderio del Crocifisso povero,
concedi, per sua intercessione,
la semplicità, la purezza di vita
e la grazia che ti chiediamo
perché tutto di noi sia una lode
senza fine a Te che vivi e regni
nei secoli dei secoli.

Per informazioni:
Monastero S. Chiara (Paganica – L'Aquila)
tel.: 0862.6899778

Autore: Daniele Bolognini
Clarissa (1400-1472 ca) 28 febbraio
Di lei si disse: “Taceva ma la sua fama gridava.” Seppe vivere l’austera povertà con letizia evangelica e il suo trapasso fu segnato da miracoli, ma ancor prima si parla di fenomeni di levitazione e luce infuocata attorno al capo.
Nata a Firenze tra il 1400 e il 1401, trascorse la fanciullezza nell’anonimato di una famiglia ordinaria. Sposatasi in giovane età, Antonia rimase vedova dopo pochi anni di matrimonio. Senza dare ascolto ai genitori che tentavano di persuaderla a risposarsi, decise di dedicarsi alla vita religiosa. 
San Bernardino predicava nelle chiese e sulle piazze di tutta Italia, suscitando una vera primavera di vita cristiana. Predicò anche nella Chiesa di S. Croce a Firenze, dall’8 marzo al 3 maggio 1425. Antonia lo ascoltò e le nacque nel cuore la decisione di consacrarsi a Dio. Era attratta da un amore più grande, al quale seppe rispondere con una generosità piena e incondizionata, diventando una delle prime postulanti delle terziarie di S. Francesco, costituite a Firenze nel 1429 da B. Angelina di Marsciano (14 lug.).
Ebbe un figlio che curò da sola e da sola attese alla sua prima educazione. Quella fiorentina era la quinta delle fondazioni di Angelina: la prima era sorta a Foligno nel 1397 e Antonia vi fu trasferita l’anno successivo al suo ingresso in considerazione dei suoi eccezionali meriti. Qui lavorò per tre anni sotto la diretta guida della fondatrice e poi venne inviata a L’Aquila come responsabile di una nuova fondazione, dando ancora una volta prova della sua santità nelle attività caritative.
Sentendo tuttavia che la regola delle terziarie di S. Francesco non era sufficientemente austera per lei, espresse a S. Giovanni da Capestrano (23 ott.), durante una visita di quest’ultimo a L’Aquila, il suo desiderio di uno stile di vita più duro; questi allora decise che Antonia si trasferisse, insieme ad altre undici suore, nel nuovo convento del Corpus Dominidove le religiose abbracciarono l’originaria regola di S. Chiara (11 ago.) alla lettera. Il convento, rivelatosi ben presto troppo piccolo per contenere tutte le aspiranti accorse numerosissime, dovette essere allargato per ospitare oltre cento religiose. Antonia chiamò la povertà la “Regina della casa”, mostrando un’inesauribile umiltà e cortesia nei rapporti con le consorelle, di cui fu superiora per sette anni.
Era tale la povertà che s’imposero che alcuni giorni dopo l’ingresso in Monastero mancava anche lo stretto necessario per sopravvivere e lei di persona decise di uscire con una compagna per chiedere elemosina. Tuttavia seppe vivere l’austera povertà con letizia evangelica, tanto che raccontano le compagne –  era sempre tanto allegra che pareva abbondasse di ogni cosa. Sapeva trascinare tutte con la parola e l’esempio; era forte e materna con tutte, coltivando l’unità e l’armonia della vita fraterna. – Le altre sorelle della fraternità subirono il fascino del suo esempio e molte di esse offrirono alla Chiesa un genuino esempio di santità. Ne citiamo alcune: beata Ludovica Branconío dell’Aquila, beata Giacoma dell’Aquila, beata Bonaventura d’Antrodoco, beata Paola da Foligno, beata Gabriella di Pizzoli, beata Giacoma da Fossa e tante altre.
Visse sempre in obbedienza e umiltà. Il suo stile di vita era limpidamente evangelico: occupava a mensa e in coro l’ultimo posto; indossava i vestiti più logori della comunità, messi fuori uso dalle sorelle; si faceva, per amore di Dio tutta a tutte. Le sorelle inferme, deboli, tentate e scoraggiate, trovavano sempre in lei conforto e l’amore tenero di madre pur essendo lei stessa affetta da un’orribile piaga che volle mantenere nascosta.
Dovette superare molte difficoltà personali dovute alla cattiva salute, logorata anche dalle apprensioni per il figlio dissoluto che dissipò l’intera eredità e per un gruppo di parenti litigiosi; non mancarono altre pene spirituali. Quando diede infine le dimissioni dall’incarico di superiora, dedicò il resto della propria vita alla preghieraSi racconta che l’abbiano spesso vista in estasi, e che a volte abbia mostrato fenomeni fisici ancor più sorprendenti, come la levitazione o l’apparizione di un’aureola di luce infuocata attorno al capo. Morì nel 1472 e fu sepolta con una cerimonia solenne; i vescovi, i magistrati e tutta la cittadinanza vollero a ogni costo sostenere gli oneri del funerale.
Il suo trapasso fu segnato da miracoli prima ancora che fosse inumata la salma. Celebri rimasero le guarigioni istantanee del cittadino aquilano Zingarelli sofferente di idropsia e di suor Innocenza clarissa, aquilana anche lei che fu guarita dalle numerose piaghe dopo essersi distesa sul corpo di Antonia ad esequie avvenute. Dallo stesso male furono risanate una Maria aquilana e sr. Orsola clarissa anche lei. Quindici giorni dopo l’inumazione le suore disseppellirono il sacro corpo per rivederlo prima che si disfacesse completamente. Con grande meraviglia lo rinvennero fresco e incorrotto. Ripeterono più volte l’esperienza e se ne diffuse la voce in città; ma il vescovo Cardinale Agnifili, per evitare esagerazioni, ordinò che la salma fosse sepolta allo scoperto, fuori del luogo sacro.  Beatificata nel 1847, le sue reliquie si trovano a L’Aquila, dove sono conservati anche i resti di S. Bernardino da Siena (20 mag.) e del B. Vincenzo da L’Aquila (7 ago.). Ancora oggi, le sorelle povere, trascinate dal suo esempio e da quello della Madre S. Chiara, vivono una vita semplice, nel silenzio del chiostro, ponendo Dio come il “tutto” della loro vita. 
FontiIl primo grande dizionario dei Santi di Alban Butler /