Saint Angela of Foligno
Born: 1248 Foligno, Italy
Died: 4th January 1309 Foligno, Italy
Feast Day: 4th January (7th January in USA)
Patron Saint: Death of Children, People ridiculed for their faith, Sexual temptation, Temptations, Widows
Shrine: Church if St Francis, Foligno
Beatified: 1693 by Pope Innocent XII
Canonised: 2013 by Pope Francis
The story of Saint Angela is one of my favourites, being a Saint behaving badly, but turned good later in life. Saint Angela was born in 1248 in Foligno, about 15 miles South of Assisi to a wealthy family, she wanted for nothing and married a rich man at a young age. She did not take her marriage vows seriously and lived a sinful but luxurious and decadent lifestyle.
In 1285 however, Angela went to confession for a serious sin and wept bitterly, she was absolved. Over the next 6 years she started leading a life of penance and prayer, ridding herself of material goods. In 1288, Angela’s mother, husband and son all died of the plague, this freed Angela to concentrate holy on God. She prayed to Saint Francis who visited her in a dream, she joined the Franciscan Third Order in 1291. She had a devotion to the poor and sick. On Holy Thursday 1292, she and a companion went to care for lepers at Foligno hospital, bathing one who was badly decomposed. Afterwards they drank some of the bathwater, Angela said “it felt as if they had received holy communion”
Angelo was a visionary who would often fall into a trance. She dictated her book of visions and instructions to Brother Arnold during 1292 and 1296, she soon gathered a group of followers who she instructed wisely. In the book she recalls some of the temptations she suffered after her conversion for a period of approximately 2 years It is said that she also suffered from the Stigmata for a period of time. From the following extract from her book, it can clearly be seen that prayer was key for Angela.
“No one can be saved without divine light. Divine light causes us to begin and to make progress, and it leads us to the summit of perfection. Therefore, if you want to begin and to receive this divine light, pray. If you have begun to make progress, pray. And if you have reached the summit of perfection and want to be super-illumined so as to remain in that state, pray. If you want faith, pray. If you want hope, pray. If you want charity, pray. If you want poverty, pray. If you want obedience, pray. If you want chastity, pray. If you want humility, pray. If you want meekness, pray. If you want fortitude, pray. If you want any virtue, pray.
Angela foresaw her death and announced that she would die soon at Christmas 1308, a few days later, Christ appeared to her promising to take her personally to heaven, she died in her sleep on 3rd January 1309. Her incorrupt body can be seen in a glass reliquary at the Church of St Francis in Foligno. Many miracles are attributed to Saint Angela at her tomb.