Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Seraphina was born in a little Italian town called San Geminiano, Tuscany. Her parents had once been rich, but difficult times had made them poor. Fina as her family affectionately called her, was their pretty and lively daughter who had a generous nature.
Each day she saved half of her dinner for someone in the town poorer than she was. During the day she sewed and spun cloth to help the family with expenses. At night, she usually spent a long time praying to Jesus and Mary.
When she was still quite young, her father died. Fina was struck with an illness that deformed and paralyzed her. She found it very painful to move and had to be carried everywhere on a piece of board. Fina lay for six years on wooden planks.
Pain rushed through her whole body and the only way she could bear it was to think of Jesus as he was nailed to the cross. "I unite my sufferings to yours, Jesus," she would whisper. Sometimes, when the pain was just too much, she would say, "It is not my wounds but yours, O Christ, that hurt me."
Fina was left alone for many hours every day because her mother had to go out to work or beg. The neighbors knew about Fina, but her sores smelled so bad that people made excuses not to go and visit her.
Fina's mother suddenly died and she was left alone. Only one neighbor, her good friend Beldia, came to care for her giving Fina as much attention as she could, but Fina had to be left alone most of the time. Fina knew that she could not live much longer but she refused to lose heart.
Someone talked to her about the terrible sufferings St. Gregory the Great had to undergo during his life. Fina became devoted to him and although she did not join the order, she lived the rest of her life following the Benedictine rule.
One day, as she groaned in pain, St. Gregory appeared to her. He said kindly, "Child, on my feast day God will grant you rest." which in older calendars was celebrated on March 12 that was the day he died in 604. And as promised, on March 12, 1253, St. Gregory came to take Fina home to heaven. We celebrate her feast day on March 12th.