Saint Of The Day For January 4: Saint Angela Of Foligno
Angela is one of the greatest mystics in the history of the Church, whose spirituality was drawn upon by giants of the faith such as Teresa of Avila and Elizabeth of the Trinity.
Saint Angela of Foligno, whose memory falls on 4 January, was canonised by equivalency by Pope Francis in 2013.
Angela, Conversion and the fear of hell
The frivolity and carefreeness of her youth were shattered within a few years by a series of events: the violent earthquake of 1279, a raging hurricane and then the long war against Perugia led her to question the precariousness of life and to feel the fear of hell.
The desire to approach the sacrament of penance was born in her, but – the chronicles narrate – “shame prevented her from making a full confession and she remained in torment”.
In prayer, she obtained the reassurance from St Francis of Assisi that she would soon know God’s mercy.
The encounter of Angela with God’s merciful love
Angela then returned to the confessional and this time was fully reconciled with the Lord.
At the age of 37, despite the hostility of her family, her conversion began in the sign of penance and renunciation of things, affections and herself.
After the close and premature death of her mother, husband and children, the woman sold all her possessions, distributing the proceeds to the poor, went on a pilgrimage to Assisi in the footsteps of the Poverello, and in 1291 entered the Third Order of St. Francis, entrusting herself to the spiritual direction of brother Arnaldo, a fellow citizen and blood relative, who later became her biographer and author of the famous “Memoriale”.
In this text, the stages of Angela’s vocation and her constant ecstasies and mystical experiences, culminating in the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in her soul, are divided into thirty ‘steps’.
“I saw a full thing,” she told her confessor about her vision of the Triune God, “an immense majesty, which I cannot say, but it seemed to me that it was all good. (…)
After his departure, I began to cry out aloud (…) Love unknown, why are you leaving me?”.
The youthful fear of damnation soon gave way to the realisation that she could not be saved by her own merits, but, with a repentant heart, only through God’s infinite merciful love.
Saint Angela Assiduous in prayer and tenderness towards the least ones
To the constant prayerful dimension, expressed especially in Eucharistic adoration and prayer, the Folignate always flanked her charitable activity at the side of the last ones, assisting with tenderness the lepers and the sick in whom she saw Christ Crucified.
Already known in life as Magistra Theologorum, she promoted a theology based on the Word of God, obedience to the Church and direct experience of the divine in its most intimate manifestations.
Fruitful in the spiritual motherhood of Anegla
Passionately involved in the controversies that lacerated the Franciscan order, Angela attracted around her a cenacle of spiritual children who saw in her a guide and a true teacher of faith: for this reason her figure embodies one of the models of female genius in the Church.
Even before her death on 4 January 1309, she was unofficially given the title of saint by the people.
On 9 October 2013, Pope Francis completed what had already been started by his predecessors by canonising Angela of Foligno by equivalency.