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Saint Of The Day For December 24: Saint Tarsilia

Tarsilia, Roman nun and paternal aunt of Gregory I the Great, Pope from 590 to 604, is highly praised by her nephew for her faith and charity.

She dedicated her life to prayer and helping her neighbour in need.

She did not shut herself away in the monastery, but often went out into the streets to assist the poor and the sick.

The life of Tarsilia

Tarsilia, Virgin of Rome, who lived in the 6th century, was one of the three paternal aunts of Gregory the Great I (pope from 590 to 604).

With her sister Emiliana, she dedicated herself to God and lived in piety and mortification.

Her nephew praised her ‘assiduity in prayer, the most severe abstinence and modesty’ that placed her ‘in an eminent degree of holiness’.

The only authoritative source is that of her nephew Gregory, who reports that Tarsilia led a life of prayer and penance, helping the poor.

When she died, it was found that her knees and elbows were badly bruised from kneeling to pray.

Tradition has it that the saint’s body, together with that of her sister, was laid to rest by her nephew in the area of the church of Saints Andrew and Gregory on the Coelian Hill in Rome.

The cult of Tarsilia

According to the Roman Martyrology, the day dedicated to the saint is 24 December:

“In Rome, commemoration of Saint Tarsilla, virgin, of whom Saint Gregory the Great, her nephew, praises her assiduous prayer, rigour of life and singular spirit of penance.”

Tarsilia is depicted in an engraving by Jacques Callot from 1632.

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