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THE PERFECT POOR CLARE

Father Francis's picture
Blessed Florida of Cevoli

For one convent to produce a saint is truly remarkable. But to have an Abbess who was proclaimed a saint and her Vicar beatified by Pope John Paul II is even more remarkable.

Lucretia Helen Cevoli was born in Pisa in 1685 to a noble religious family. At the age of 13 she entered a Poor Clare boarding school where the seeds of her vocation were sown.

She entered the Capuchin Poor Clares at Citta di Castello, aged 18, and received the name Florida. She was given various jobs until at the age of 31 she was elected vicar to Veronica Guiliani who was the Abbess. Their united efforts inspired their community to renewed spiritual fervour.

When Veronica died Florida became Abbess for most of the next 40 years until her death. She guided the spiritual growth of her sisters, practising what she asked of others. She excelled in showing charity both to her own sisters and towards the poor who knocked on her door. Countless people came to the convent grill for her counsel and for comfort. Her written correspondence was vast and included letters to people from every social class.

Her reputation was even more widespread than that of St. Veronica playing a key role as peacemaker during the riots that broke out in Citta di Castello in 1758, following the death of Pope Benedict XIV.

Florida spent long hours before the Lord in the Eucharist and to have her "mind solely and perpetually lost in God" was her sole desire. Although she helped so many others in need her heart belonged to God alone. Her spiritual journal which she shared with her confessor filled 20 notebooks. The moment he died she burnt them all.

Her life was marked by personal suffering, anguish of spirit and mysterious physical ailments. She endured them all patiently and found strength to cope with them by meditating on the sufferings of Christ. She was offered the gift of the stigmata and asked to be spared these external signs. Instead she endured a very painful dose of singles for the last 20 years of her life. She died at the age of 82 and was beatified in 1993.

Florida was the wonderful nun she was because of her great love for the Lord and for the people who crossed her path. Her strength came from the long hours she spent before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Through meditating on the Passion of Our Lord she was able to endure much suffering in her life. She was the perfect leader and animator of her sisters. Today we ask her to pray for us and bring about an increase in vocations to the Poor Clares in our country.

Blessed Florida of Cevoli, pray for us.